What will happen when we return to the dance floor?
It’s been a full year now since global lockdowns closed clubs and warehouses the world over. Safe to say, we’re all pining to reunite under the strobes and let a good sound system do its thing at releasing some of the tension we’ve all been under these last twelve months.
When that time will happen is still yet to be determined. Nightclubs in New York are slated to reopen at 33% capacity on April 3, but guest limitations and social distancing restrictions still have many event promoters waiting to open doors until they can offer a more enjoyable dance experience. If cases continue to drop as vaccinations increase, we will likely start to see small venue outdoor gatherings in most places in the US toward the end of the summer.
Meanwhile, with rapid testing and vaccinations moving along successfully in the UK and Europe, nightclubs in the UK are expected to open with no restrictions beginning June 21, and festivals like Dimensions and ADE are being planned for the fall.
While no doubt it’ll be a bummer to watch the rest of the world get back to raving while the US gets its act together, event promoters will have the opportunity to observe what works and bring those practices to their local scene when it’s time to reopen.
And when those doors do reopen, there are definitely some promising opportunities for positive change that we can look forward to
In 2020 the voices of women in the electronic music industry reached critical mass. In the post-COVID era, ain’t no room for sexual harassment on the dance floor, period. Envision a place where you can let your freak flag fly, surrounded by Techno Vikings. Sounds like paradise to me.
The racial reckoning of last year expanded our collective awareness of the Black artists and communities that created this scene. The Black Lives Matter movement also brought into focus where inequities still exist in both the music industry and our cultural landscape. A more mature understanding of how we can act as better allies of the Black community ushers us towards more investment in Black DJ’s and producers and more liberating spaces to get down.
The record wildfires last summer also made us more acutely aware of the climate crisis, and greater emphasis on sustainability has made its way to the electronic dance scene. As clubs and parties reopen, ravers and organizers alike have a chance to advocate for more eco-friendly parties. Following the momentum of campaigns like Blond:ish’s Bye Bye Plastic or DGTL’s innovative green efforts, the rave of the future is plastic-free and earth-happy.
We’re at the beginning of a whole new era in electronic music. Artists all over the world have been deep in the studio for the past year, with lots going on in the world sure to be reflected back in the sounds they create. What’s more, plenty of DJ’s and producers for the first time ever, have been available in a virtual mentorship capacity. With knowledge-sharing platforms, expanded software, and a rise in DIY analog hardware, electronic music has reached a far wider set of talented new creators. We’re in for nonstop live sonic novelty when we get back out there, so get ready.
A year of physical distancing puts into perspective what we miss about raving: the energy of a live crowd, the bass face sideways glances at your friends, late-night outside chats with strangers, going home at sunrise. We won’t easily take for granted any of those small moments again. So when we return, maybe we won’t feel like reaching for our phone at all. Maybe we’ll close our eyes more and get lost in the sound. Maybe we’ll be nowhere else than this place we’ve waited to return to for so long, fully inside the present moment with the people beside us.
Guest post by Lydia McDowell
Cover photo: @nightmovesme