Over the last decade weekenders that have been my favourites for a long time have suffered from the decreasing number of Mods attending these events for diverse reasons and there has been one remarkable reaction to this problem: Make it bigger – to make more people interested in the scene and possibly join it. Sounds nice, but does it work? Possibly in Spain, obviously in the UK. It doesn’t seem to work in Central Europe, though. It seems like most people over here prefer to enjoy whatever comes there way without wanting to commit themselves for a longer period, as commitment to them – so my guess – means limitation.
Now, as Modernism is very much about commitment it’s clear that we can’t count on those people to bring new life to our scene. They’ll be there for some time, maybe even dress up a bit, but sooner or later they’ll go another way, find their kicks somewhere else. What has the Mod scene to give them after some easy thrills of a tourist being in a new holiday resort for the very first time? Tourists know they’ll leave home after a fortnight or so, they’re not supposed to live in the resort for a few years or longer, so they try to have a hell of a good time and then they’re gone. And the next year they’ll spend their holidays somewhere else, of course. Why go to the same old resort again? You’ve been there anyway!
Yes, some people may stay on the scene, just like some tourists may decide to visit the same old resort year after year again. And yes, this is a valid argument when it comes to the question whether a mod event’s door policy should be rather strict or rather liberal. There’s always a chance that some people might feel so much attracted that they’ll at last commit themselves. And yes, this is why I would never denounce the idea of those really big events open for any kind of person interested in it. After all, we’d organised Beat-O-Mania back in the 9Ts, which was very much about this idea. Besides, once you’ve reached a certain number of guests it really does make sense to offer bigger venues and even different rooms, to sort of give back some kind of an intimate atmosphere you wouldn’t be able to experience in a big hall for 1,000 – 2,000 people.
There are quite some more reasons in favour of bigger events, at least from an organiser’s point of view: when you never try something new you might risk missing the party/all-nighter/weekender of your lives, and of course, all the big events started some time and were possibly not that successful at first, but as the organisers persevered the events became established and successful. Still, when you want to start a new weekender, it should offer something unique, e.g. more bands from far-away places, a compelling DJ line-up, a boat-cruise, a swimming-pool party, a headliner everyone’s always wanted to see.
Yet, thinking of the “standard” Mod-weekender, hardly anyone from abroad will bother to even consider coming, and even most people in your own country might let you down for the sake of their local party incidentally taking place at exactly that same weekend. Frankly speaking: why should you travel to a minor event knowing quite well that you can listen to the same music in your hometown every weekend in one or another club? Why should you travel there in times like these, when more and more people barely make ends meet?
So is there another solution to the problem, apart from making your do big?
There seems to be one: specialisation.
Separate the dancefloors. Set up a black dancefloor for anything from Jazz and R&B, via Soul to Ska and hope to attract many more people who like that sort of music, but hate anything that sounds white. And set up a strictly white dancefloor embracing Beat, Freakbeat, Psych, Prog and Funk-Rock (I’m still waiting for a Mod DJ to play early Mother’s Finest) for all those who really hate all of that “lousy disco music”.
But what about those stupid old sods, I mean “Mods”, like me? Do I have to hop from room to room, always running the risk of missing the new killer number that’s being played in the other room right now? I always thought Mod is about picking out the truffles from a vast pool of yet undiscovered, unknown gems from the sixties, no matter if it’s black or white. Isn’t Mod about expanding one’s horizon, not about narrowing it? Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve had the funny feeling that more and more people voluntarily are in danger of limiting their scope.
Of course, predilections change, it’s inevitable, but why narrow down the choice so much? As for me, I love all those styles of Mod music, and I enjoy myself best when there’s variation on the dancefloor. A bit of this, a bit of that, and when I don’t feel in the mood to listen to or dance to this or that DJ, hey – time to go to the bar and have a nice drink and a chat.
But I’m really worried today that when you separate the dancefloors you start to separate the scene. This reminds me of HG Wells’ “Time Machine” – when you separate a group of people who’d lived in the same habitat for ages they will end up being complete aliens to each other – it’s just a matter of time.
And apart from that – what’s the lesson we teach those who attend a Mod do for the first time? What we show them is the following: there is not one scene, there are two scenes and each group doesn’t appreciate the other one very much. And you have to decide which side you are on.
I’m in constant anxiety these days that this might bright about the end of everything I’ve always found essential and worthwhile about the scene. To me this scene has never been narrow-minded and intolerant, quite the opposite. But by separating the scene at an event where the people should be “in one”, together, not separated, don’t we run the risk of generating more stereotyped thinking and breeding more narrow-mindedness?
Please understand that I’m just trying to throw in my five cents here, I do not intend to point my fingers at anyone on a moral level, I’m not trying to judge others. In fact I very, very much do appreciate all the hard work and the efforts made by all those folks around the globe trying to keep the scene alive by organising parties, clubs, all-nighters and weekenders, no matter how many different dancefloors they opt for. In the end a good party is a good party is a good party.
So this is just a (slightly provocative) attempt to start a discussion without wanting to generate bad feelings in anyone on the scene. I think our scene is grown-up enough to sensibly discuss controversial issues these days.
By the way: I’ll be attending Beat Bespoke 8 this year, and wouldn’t you know? I’d love to see the Poets AND Maxine Brown/The Pepperpots. Alas, they seem to play at the same time in different rooms.
So if you feel a breeze or a draught while you are in the one or the other room at Easter, or if you see a blurred shape for a split-second, who knows …. that might be me trying to achieve the impossible: being in two rooms at the same time! Now that’s what I call a dual-dancefloor dilemma!
Powered by Max Banner Ads