I’m not sure what brought it to mind, but I was thinking of the last significant show I was able to see before it became inadvisable to gather. Before sickness or fear settled upon this local bit of earth.
Flite was playing at The Music Room in Atlanta on a Thursday night, March 5th. I went with good friends; even though I was excited to see the Headliner, I was there to see people I knew play sets before and after.
As with every show, there was time to drink, to linger outside the front entrance—small clusters of conversation coalescing and dispersing like eddies in an accretion disc. The Music Room itself played a part in building the energy of the evening.
I must have been mad to buy a ticket to a midweek show, with the prospect of working the next day. However, in retrospect, I am glad I did. Because everything about that night was perfect—the murmurous warmth of an overcast spring night, the lights of the city, random beat poet serenades, conversation and laughter at every turn.
Descending the fairy lighted stairwell into the low-ceilinged venue offered the sense of an embrace. Of course, jokes were made at the expense of the overzealous fog machines—who could resist?
I think about the fact that, for the first time since Elevate’s LSB/DRS show almost a year prior, I felt what is commonly referred to as “vibe” on such a deep and profound level that I moved without a care for my personal space; almost entirely unaware of anything beyond the sensations of that moment.
That rarest of electricities ran from the center of my being to the end of every nerve. It is this that I miss most. It is not physical contact that I crave, but a sense of immersive, whole-being connection with every creature in the room, unrestricted by valuations of goodness. The indiscriminate enmeshing is practically orgiastic, grounded in physicality, but not bound by it.
It’s difficult to explain that I miss people and yet I do not. Because I don’t want to speak or touch. I may even deny eye contact, save in fleeting, heavy-lidded licks of unseeing pupils dilated as if with some illicit drug.
What I long for is the throb and growl of bass from big speakers in a small room. I want darkness and beam splitters and lighting concepts. I want music that moves my body with its complex, interlaced tempi without asking permission first, and a dance floor crowded with strangers.
I want to know that one or two friends will be nearby, and if I turn my head to look, we’ll share a smile that is more easily understood than words shouted over the music. I want to know that I am safe.
As we enter the second full month of strangeness and social distancing, it is this I think of and miss. I don’t know how long it will be until I feel alright to pack together with a crowd of sweating strangers on a dance floor. It may be years before there is a vaccine with sufficient distribution. And I will not close my eyes to that potentiality.
What I wonder now, is whether vibe can be created at a remove? I have only respect for the response of the EDM community with its proliferation of live-streams. There’s even a massive, ongoing music festival—Quarantine Music Festival.
Many of my friends and producers in the Atlanta DnB community are broadcasting every day. But, while I do not fault them for any affective shortcoming, I have to wonder how long it will be enough. One cannot rush the development of a vaccine for a virus that seems to be deciding what it want to be when it grows up.
That would be disastrous. But what will we do for each other as we wait—a community who makes of connection and communal experience a drug above and beyond any illicit substance money may buy?