A couple of years ago, Resident Advisor released a collection of short films between 20 and 30 minutes, picturing the electronic music scene in different cities worldwide. They were shown two years ago during Sónar by Day in Barcelona and as well last Fall at the Amsterdam Dance Event. These little masterpieces are a nice insight into a scene that constantly changes, lives and struggles, even for those who never really gave it a try.
Raves, parties, festivals and other events related to electronic underground music are often associated to a dark filthy world, with lost people and the urge of getting high with whatever substance can be found, this is mostly the opinion that I become to hear from those around me who never had a proper approach to it. Let’s say they never gave it a try. Sometimes because of a good amount of open minds missing, or also simply because all of this, far away from glittery nightclubs and sparkling plateau heels, is somehow scary.
Speaking for myself, I gave a try to a lot of things, speaking in terms of venues and musical events. You never know what you’ll be able to find in this wide world of tunes. So defining myself as somebody that likes to define herself and her life via lyrics, it happens that my musical taste is spread around in different styles: I almost find a good song in every scene. Although, my trials taught me that I probably ain’t a lover of dubstep or commercial hip hop, for example. Basically, go out and experience, people!
The underground music scene might have the above mentioned elements and people who really go out to get shitfaced in order to tell after they had a great party. But in 99% of the cases it’s so much more than this. It’s about entering a place where music matters in the first place: where you are warped by it, able to free your mind and flush your sorrows down the toilet for the next 3 to 15 hours – it’s up to you. It’s actually an environment where your outfit isn’t really your ticket to ride this time: in fact, you can meet the most diverse people of all kind and sometimes end up in pretty awesome conversations.
This is why I am very thankful for the RA Real Scenes series: it opens up a virtual door to this world maybe to people who never considered this type of music for themselves. It’s a culture and a way of life, it’s connected to passion and sometimes called community. I want to share a part of it, the cities pictured in the films that I found the most interesting. Starting with the oh so obvious European underground capital Berlin, that became THE place to be involountairly, where clubs started to be listed in tourist guides and still pop out like mushrooms in order to “cover” the need that has been built up. THE place to enjoy the party of a lifetime, but also THE place where a tourist can be a pain in the ass for a selector.
Then we move to cities who might will never be seen as an underground place (Paris). But where great people are trying to get the curiosity out of people, leading them outside of the chic quarters and bring them to suburbia, where the actual stuff is happening. Or, by simply developing Sunday afternoon as the new Saturday night.
After there is New York, place of rises and falls of many artists. Where you first have to make sure to be able to pay your bills with an unpleasant job and try to be creative afterwards, in case your energy hasn’t been completely sucked in. Showing how there’s no space for underground in Manhattan anymore and picturing Brooklyn’s shining in this topic. What happened after is more than clear: a new trending place, another reason to increase rents and costs, the dying of little local activities.
Tokyo was one of the biggest surprises during my personal movie marathon: a modern city like this that is still fighting hard for its own club scene. I mean, signs like “no dancing please” would be out of this world in almost every other place I guess!
Last but not least, there are places which I’ve never would have been thought to be a significant place for underground music (Johannesburg). Different surroundings, maybe less possibilities, but a healthy confidence in dreams – because talent can be a huge door opener to a much better life.
I could go on and on because all of them are somehow inspiring. The cities may be different from each other, the ones with a bigger scene that became a huge business, others are still trying to rise higher. But in the very end, all they have in common is one thing: the love of keeping the scenes up as good as they can. And they should.
*All films and pictures are courtesy of Resident Advisor
Other featured cities: Mexico City, Bristol, Detroit