Bliss Awakens The Best In The Dance Community
Good news, everyone. Turns out trance isn’t dead.
But you probably knew that already. It should come as no surprise that trance is indeed alive and well, accompanied by all the interest, passion, and emotion that comes pretty unique to the genre. And that’s saying something considering how passionate and emotional the electronic music community is in general.
But while forever present, that fiery passion seemed to be relatively dormant. This may be specific only to Seattle, but it’s pretty typical to hear fans lament about the absence of artists, only to not turn up to shows when they would get booked. What exactly was going on?
What Happened to Trance?
Let’s use myself as an example. Trance is really the first genre that got me into dance music. But outside of spending some time at the Anjunabeats Stage at Lucky Festival in March and a few scattered shows at Foundation Nightclub, it’s been a while since I’ve really been to a trance show. It’s not so much that I lost interest in trance, but more that I gained interest in other genres. The longer I listen to electronic music, the more artists I discover and the wider my interests become. At a certain point, you simply can’t go to every show. Think of this as a good thing. We should be so lucky they’re “too many” shows and festivals occurring every weekend.
In addition to that, after a few years of going to shows I don’t feel like I have to go to every single one for the fear of missing out. Festivals and nightclubs are already experiencing this, some to the extent that they have had to close their doors permanently (see Future Music Festival and Pacha Night Club in New York). This puts pressure on production companies to come up with new and innovative ways that catch our attention and keep our attendance. Maybe that’s something extravagant and unique like Holy Ship. Maybe that’s the increasing commonality of open to close sets. Maybe it’s what seems to be the newest trend of genre specific festivals. We see this Insomniac’s Dreamstate, we see this at the touring Safe in Sound bass festival, we see this at the Dirtybird Campout.
The entire event was really set up as a call to action to the trance community. One stage, seven hours, legends behind the decks (Paul Oakenfold, Giuseppe Ottaviani, John O’Callaghan headlining), incredible production, and after a period of hopping around to different venues, the show was held at a location most seasoned people associate with the Seattle scene. Bliss was meant to demonstrate that USC was listening and wanted to create an opportunity for those in the Pacific Northwest to experience something unique. It really seemed like a beautiful perfect storm.
However, the one thing that had kept me slightly at a distance wasn’t my interest in the music, but the attitude that seemed to accompany the community as of late.
If I had to base my opinion solely on what I see on Facebook and Reddit, insufferable is the word that comes to mind. Like it’s a war and only one sub-genre can be pure enough to be enjoyed non-ironically. Judgmental of other genres under the pretense of being more enlightened and educated than everyone else, obsessed with putting a label on what is “real trance,” hung up on pointing out every imperfection in a set, upset because people in the crowd don’t recognize some of the music, longing for the good old days of 2007, blah blah blah Anjunabeats, insert thing about Tiesto here, blah blah blah. This attitude isn’t just found in trance (it just happens to be more noticeable). I’ve encountered it pretty much the moment electronic music entered pop culture, and from what I could tell it’s existed long before that as well. So despite any enthusiasm leading up to the event, this is what I was afraid to find.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Not that I was looking, but I couldn’t find a trace of that negative mentality. The environment was relaxed, joyful, and simply full of love; an honest embrace of what trance is supposed to represent. Unity, happiness, and a chance to lose yourself in the music, lights, and emotion that surrounds you. From the self proclaimed “trance fairies” to die hard bassheads to people who had never been to a show before, everyone only had positive things to say. I couldn’t turn around without running into someone who wanted to share a hug, a smile, or a story (but to be fair, having a doge totem made it pretty easy for people to want to come up and say hello). In short, people were just happy to be there (or dare I say…”blissful?”). And positive energy breeds positive energy. You want to talk about how music can change lives, just look at the connections and energy that spawned from this. From the excitement leading up to the event, to the vibes that dominated the WaMu Theater, to the outpour of positive feedback on social media; Bliss was immensely promising; for trance, for USC, and for the dance community as a whole.
Honestly, it reminded me why trance drew me to the scene in the first place.
I would not be surprised to see another iteration of Bliss appear within the next year. Aside from what I heard were lower than expected ticket sales (which honestly, made the crowd a pretty desirable size), everything surrounding the event indicates success. Smooth security, low medical responses, a lack of garbage, and the overwhelming positive response on Facebook all point to an extremely optimistic future.
Infect the World with Positive Energy
Here’s the truth. It is not 2007 anymore. The dance music scene is not a baby. Not that it was back then either, but a lot has happened in the past decade. There are a lot more people interested, there are a lot more people involved, and between pop radio, Volvo commercials, and bumpers for professional sports; it has become the definition of mainstream. And the electronic community has been struggling with it’s popularity. To a certain extent, I understand. It’s no secret that people take advantage of the community’s lack of judgement to do an alarming amount of drugs and sketch on half naked girls. Media coverage often makes the culture seem vapid and one-dimensional. That’s really discouraging. It’s important for something that defines you to remain somewhat unique. It’s natural to want people to respect something that you love. It’s understandable to want to feel safe, to feel like what you’re involved in matters. But we have to grow up with the music.
If an experience like Bliss has taught us anything, it’s about the power of positive energy. And that positive energy starts with YOU. I had some reservations going into the show and I was happily mistaken. The media paints the community as shallow? Then prove the media wrong. People try to bring a negative attitude? Show them that there is another way. Start the ripple. Be the change. Radiate the energy you want to see in the people around you. If you continue to find ways to spread the joy that this music brings you, even in the smallest way, one day we will see a change. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year. But someday.
Let’s make it happen.
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