Writing About Dancing: Disco Critics Survey
10. What are the greatest challenges and obstacles in writing about dance music these days?
Avoiding boosterism and developing a truly critical language for dance music. Most dance reviews are 7 or 8 in essence even when un-graded. there should be 3's and 1's and zeroes. Of course, the boosterism is based on feeling like the scene is underground and needs support, so it's sort of understandable to an extent.
Resisting nostalgia for the early, less professionalized and more anarcho days of rave, before it became an industry. Things can never stay the same. Don't fall into the Meltzer trap!
Learning that "vibe" migrates and that you can't keep looking in the same place for your bliss. Knowing when to leave the party (and find another, more pumping one)
Retaining the capacity to be astonished. (So much stuff comes out that the landmark releases don't stand out so starkly against the plains of lameness).
I guess you could argue that the audience for dance music is not as large as the audience for rock, but it's a two-way street (and I would argue that if you started running electronic music pieces/features on a regular basis, you would discover a whole new audience, which is larger than you think). I mean, NYC raves reach capacities of 10,000 with flyering as the sole promotion, and Twilo, the Tunnel, and the Limelight pack outs thousands of people on a weekend, yet can you find me a rock show that's not Bruce Springsteen, that would be able to pack out a venue of that size with only word of mouth and hand-to-hand flyering and one month (or less) of promotion!!?. Most of these clubs don't even bother taking out big ads in the papers, because they don't have to. And considering how many venues are dedicated to dance music not rock music in NYC, I think the argument that there's no audience and that no one will read it, and that it's not important, is utterly absurd. There's an audience, they just don't buy records, they go raving or clubbing, instead.
Sometimes one breaks through the fog of ignorance. Back in 1994 I wrote a scathing letter to Tower Pulse! complaining about their Dance Music column, which was being written by an enemy of the style, one Lorraine Ali. They called me, told me my letter was better written than any of her columns, fired her & gave it to me. (I wrote it for four and a half years, until a new, "typical" editor took over the magazine and fired me.) During that time I wrote about "deepest house and highest Euro," as I told Pulse! that I would. Wrote about it and was glad of it! (Of course Lorraine Ali had no trouble making it to Rolling Stone, natch, and then on to the big time, where writers of her outlook are especially well received.)