27 November 2011

Dance music is like a western…

To continue the thread about the increasing need for temperance and lucidity today as opposed to the obliteration and highs of yesteryear I am faced with balancing the needs must of function, achievement and not appearing to much like a self-obsessed weirdo with the unnecessitous misdemeanours and temptations of the don’t need, mustn’t activity of the mainstream prevalent attitude of current party philosophy as experienced by me in this moment.

All opinions expressed may, or indeed must change tomorrow or whenever I can think of a better way to justify my behaviour. Behavioural justification being of course the mainstay or default reason for say, western narrative tradition in film. The western storytelling tradition has canonised a distinctive set of narrative values characterised by tight economy and closure. Ditto me with dance culture. I need to get in there, do my bit, talk to who I need to talk to and get out with a tight closure, a line drawn and a move to the next compartmentalisation scenario that I can hang my latest anxiety on.

Write your own goddamn stories.
I like this quote from Graham Turner who wrote a book called Film as Social Practice...
... the world ‘comes to us’ in the shape of stories... story provides us with an easy, unconscious, and involving way of constructing our world; narrative can be described as a means of ‘making sense’ of our social world, and sharing that ‘sense’ with others.” (Turner 78-9)

You can’t get much more narratively simplistic that the story of a party. Like western film we all favour narrative simplicity. Seeing complexity in something that really is genuinely complex flux is not the story of a party for most. Reduce multifaceted, multifarious human interaction down, make it into a simple story and then tell it. Simplify deep social issues, emphasise the emotional and the dramatic. Don’t mention messy, complicated social issues, don’t grapple with important social issues, don’t resort to dogmatism or polemic. Now, try writing a story or promoting a party taking that on board? Can’t be done?

It can be done.

Structuralist narrative approaches and the significance of genre and point-of-view as forms of discourse can uncover real social meaning within the narrative structures. Stock character types, binary oppositions, a story arc which takes the chaos of life, structures it, and ultimately gives it meaning. My wife got shot now I’m gonna kill the killer. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was off my head. But wasn’t it funny. Tell me about it again?

I haven’t been writing party reviews for a few weeks because I’ve been somewhat disturbed by the reaction to some of the pieces written; perceived slights to people’s characters, portraying them as if they were stock character types, binary oppositions, part of a story arc which takes the chaos of life, structures it, puts it through the lens of my mind and ultimately gives it meaning; if only to me. I do reduce people down to cyphers but it is all in the cause of narrative impurity; to tell a few lame jokes, to tease but untimately because I love these people and want to write about their lifes because no-one else is. What we do is important to us.

If I stick ‘to the narrative’, which goes some like this – arrived at party, everyone was beautiful and witty, the sound system was superb and the DJ’s perfect, had such a wonderful time, went home – the ‘reviews’ are loved and the compliments about the great writing flow thick. But, you know, things are only sometimes like that.

I got one close friend in a lot of trouble because I made a lame joke at his expense and said, and I paraphrase here, ‘this DJ had this woman round his house and was “teaching her how to DJ”’. “What do mean putting inverted commas around teaching her how to DJ? Said the said DJ’s partner fully getting my ‘humorous’ intonation but not seeing the funny side of it all. I had never got into as much trouble over two inverted commas. I removed them from the blog and she was happy.

The intonation is still there, the intonation that my aging lothario DJ chum may have, in his mind, wanted (wink) ‘to teach her to DJ’ but only in passing thought and only in his own, sad, sick puppy, male mind. But we all know what men are like? Right?I wasn’t saying they had fucked or wanted to or wished to pry open his partners insecurity about his commitment or loyalty to her if indeed there was any. In fact she was just round playing a few tunes with him and there was no impropriety suggested or took place. It was, admittedly, a fairly poor sexual backfire on my part and I was obliged to apologise to all parties concerned and censor my text.

Now imagine that happening dozens of times?
Formalist Vladimir Propp argued that all fairy tales were constructed of certain plot elements, which he called functions, and that these elements consistently occurred in a uniform sequence. As a firm Proppian I believe that a cohesive story can be formed by connecting a series of any set of his thirty-one functions in order. That’s why I can write 100 odd blog posts on tVC playing down the Smack on a Saturday night and everyone of those stories will be different every time. This piece could be seen as...

HERO'S REACTION: Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service and uses adversary's powers against him.
Of course by inserting verbal considerations, considerations of tone, mood, character and all that baloney that makes us human and different, which Propp ignores, and you can potentially have a great yarn to tell.

So on to the weekend; was great to see my old mate who begins with an S and ends in a toney for his birthday on Saturday night. Surrounded by his close chums he basked the warm blanket of friendship and the music he loves. He’s to another 48 years mate!

Was also good to spend time with my old mucker DP and new mucker Dantix down at The Jekyll and Hyde in Ramsgate, not too bad a turn out for the third one as the pre free party people gathered few a few drinks before heading out to the wilds of the Kent countryside. For some reason we had no technics 1210’s there and we all Djed digital for the first time without of favourite vinyl playing decks. Indeed 3 of the DJ’s brought memory sticks down with tunes on and it was a swift matter of copying them over onto my laptop (thanks for the free tunes guys) boshing them in a folder with their names on and they were off.

The bad news of the weekend was the death of our dear old chum from The Smack, Pugsly the dog, who sadly had to be put down in the week; he was 19 years old and will be missed by all who were the recipient of his gentle if somewhat drooling affection. Now, after me; "in yer basket!" RIP Pugsley 1992 - 2011.

Turner, Graeme. Film as Social Practice. London: Routledge, 1999.