The 25 worst moments in dance music history
With 25 years of Conference in the books, it's time for a look back at the corresponding period of dance music history. Yes, there were moments of sheer joy and ecstasy (take that as a pun or not). But there are plenty of other developments we want to pretend never happened. Yet the scars are deep and some things stay with us like cheesy tribal tattoos. Now join us on the journey as we explore the 25 worst moments in dance music history, in no particular order.
Technotronic. Sure, the group's songs were damn catchy and inescapable in the early '90s. They were the official anthem for every LA Fitness aerobics class and junior high dance. Yet behind every neon-color jumpsuit and high-top fade was the disheartening realization that "Pump Up the Jam" was far from cool.
PLUR. With an acronym like that, how can you not cringe in discomfort? PLUR sounds more like a dish detergent than a movement. Plus it came with all of those unfortunate candy raver bracelets.
Glowsticks. What started as children's party toys became a weapon of choice for many ravers. Most unfortunate were the sets on strings, which were about as dangerous as nunchucks.
Ecstasy. Rumor had it the drug made you horny, but it turns out it actually just burns holes in your brain. And let's not forget the over-the-top names for some of these guys: Batmans, Whiffledust, Pink Bunnies, Tweetie Birds, Sextasy, Peepers, Pikachu, Hippieflip, Kitty Flipping, H-Bombs, E-Bombs, X-Bombs, and whatever-bombs you wanted to drop.
"Macarena" and all of its remixes. We had no idea what they were saying, but we all knew the chorus. And who was this Macarena chick anyway? Regardless, the song is tragically embedded in our minds for the rest of our lives and we hate every single moment of it.
Hip-house. There was a time in the late '80s when music aficionados claimed the death of hip-hop and predicted hip-house would take over the airwaves. Even notable hip-hop pioneers such as Jungle Brothers jumped on the hype wagon and created "I'll House You," which didn't house anyone. By the early '90s, hip-house was a bad dream and we were back to good old James Brown samples and real lyrics.
The 18-minute trance song that really never had a beginning, middle, or end. You weren't quite sure when the track began, and you were definitely wondering when the damn track would end. Some people called it epic, while others called it annoying.
Moby and punk rock. We can clearly remember when electronic music pioneer Moby traded in his turntables for a guitar and his cuddly vegan persona for a wailing, bald punk rocker. He countered that with a bunch of down-tempo songs for commercials, but hey, at least he's still making a buck.
Gabber, "gabba," and happy hardcore. The 220-bpm, high-pitched bass drops left listeners with migraines for days if not weeks. Somehow, some people loved it.
Raver pants. You couldn't miss them, with their two-foot-wide legs that could easily hide a toddler. They were not only a fashion faux pas but also a safety hazard. How many times have you seen people trip over their own UFOs?
Bad Euro dance groups such as ATC and Aqua. The fact that their songs were megahits (ATC's "Around the World" and Aqua's "Barbie Girl," to name just two examples) didn't mean they were any good.
Bad drum 'n' bass MCs. For each quality d 'n' b MC (e.g., MC GQ, Dynamite MC, MC Conrad, Killa Kela) there is a slew of others that never should have gone near a mike. Most of them abuse their rights and overtake the DJ's set with textbook sayings like "rewind selecta" and poor imitations of British or Jamaican accents. Sadly, this trend has now crossed over to dubstep.
When the subgenres took over. It wasn't simply techno or house anymore but tech-house, trance, tribal, hard trance, minimal techno, Detroit techno, Chicago house, Miami bass, Parisian house, and any random-city-style. Whatever you call it and whichever style you align yourself with, it's still dance music, right?
The term IDM (intelligent dance music). The name supposedly originated in the States in 1993. No matter from where it came, it quite possibly is the dumbest name for a subgenre of music that classifies itself as "intelligent."
When every pop song had to have a techno/trance remix. There was a moment in music history in which a club remix was as essential as a press release. It didn't matter if it was good or not; as long as your song had a four-four dance beat, you were golden. And let's not bring up Cher's "Believe" — bad, bad thoughts.
Superstar DJs. The success of some pioneering DJs was a great moment in dance music history. But having to pay them $1 million for a two-hour set was the worst. We're looking at you, Paul Oakenfold.
Major Hollywood "rave" movies such as Go and Groove. As if Katie Holmes would ever drop Ecstasy and go to some underground warehouse rave. MTV's Jersey Shore does a better job at getting the dance scene than those sad millennial attempts.
When everyone thought they could DJ. With the advent of cheap $300 plastic Numarks up for grabs at the nearest Wal-Mart, becoming a superstar DJ was closer than you'd think. Then along came software like Serato, and everyone with a laptop was suddenly "spinning."
NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani's ridiculous cabaret law. What? No dancing? It was now illegal? In the early '00s, the cabaret law stunned not only the dance music community but also all New Yorkers. The measure stated there was no dancing allowed in a venue that wasn't officially licensed as a "club." So that cool lounge in the East Village that plays some pretty amazing house music — try not to dance or you'll get arrested. Luckily, things have eased up, and that never made its way to Miami.
Ibiza. What once was a peaceful island in the Mediterranean is now the mecca of summer hedonism for every clubbing junkie around the world. Despite the overpriced club entry fees, expensive drinks, touristy food and hotel accommodations, and trance music coming out of every shop, boutique, and car stereo, Ibiza does have great beaches. Hmmm, sounds like Miami.
Goa trance. A subgenre of trance music that originated in Goa, India, the music is often littered with cheesy new-age chanting and psychedelic gibberish. We'll even take Enigma over this crap any day.
The death of vinyl. OK, so Serato and Final Scratch took a heavy load off the average DJ. Yet as much as technology has made traveling a breeze for DJs, it's sad to see vinyl stored away in bookshelves and dusty crates. While online digital portals such as Beatport.com thrive, local dance music stores are dead and gone.
The AIDS needle scare. At the peak of the '80s and '90s club scene was a burgeoning HIV epidemic that struck the dance community. And to make matters worse, rumors were floating of some sick individuals who would attempt to stick HIV-contaminated needles into innocent clubgoers on the dance floor. Some folks claim these tales were true, while others consider them urban legend. Nevertheless, it had a chilling effect.
Trance ringtones. Bad trance music heard outside a booming club sound system was bad enough, but imagine hearing a stripped-down tone-deaf version every time someone called. Whoever thought that was a good idea is now a millionaire. Damn you!
The death of dance music and its reincarnation in the form of Auto-Tuned songs by artists like Ke$ha. Even though electronica purists would still consider the likes of Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Sasha, and Eric Prydz to be true dance music makers, try telling that to the Grammy Association. With Gaga winning top prize for Best Dance Album, it's safe to say dance music is, well, safe.
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