Moving past the one-year COVID-19 anniversary and the dance music industry is seeing initial first beats of what could look like a return to a “new normal.” Social media timelines are starting to resemble a faint past as festival and club show announcements flood our feeds. What normalcy looks like for live events is still hazy, but a resurgence of electronic music artists posting about upcoming shows would tell otherwise. Could the worst have passed or will the dance music community experience a COVID-19 Groundhog Day?
Live music and events were one of the first sectors to feel the wrath of the pandemic. SXSW was the first major festival to announce its cancellation on the heels of CRSSD and Okeechobee Music Festival, the country’s last two major live music events before it all came to a screeching halt. The fact that one of the country’s leading festivals for creators in all art spaces pulled its plug caused many to raise their brow. Promoters and event organizers like many thought the health scare would “blow over” in a matter of weeks and life would carry on as usual. However, as the impending threat of a pandemic loomed, the industry began taking serious precautions. It’s safe to say, no one could really anticipate the impact nor the long-lasting effect it would have. Dance music artists have shared their sentiment on the one-year COVID-19 anniversary.
If you had told me a year ago today, as we were locking down, that I would still be in this house…
— THE BLESSED MADONNA (@Blessed_Madonna) March 23, 2021
1 year of drinking beer and chatting with friends now every Thursday. Time to… well drink another beer and chat … 😁 🍻. So tune in tonight 9pm CET … @ Berlin, Germany https://t.co/4TVi725JoI
— Chris Liebing Ⓥ (@ChrisLiebing) March 25, 2021
It’s been a rollercoaster year of emotions and information. The cycle of shock, sadness, stress, acceptance. Keeping up with changes in mask policies, spikes, curves, and hotspots. Understanding what’s permissible and what’s not during a pandemic. This can all take a toll on the body and mind. COVID fatigue is real, and it’s a ride everyone wants to get off of. It hasn’t been easy, particularly for those working in industries that weren’t deemed important enough to help at the beginning. The music industry has fought with tooth and nail to keep its head above water. 2021 may just be the light at the end of the tunnel everyone is hoping for.
People who “music” are some of the most resilient beings. They will rave all weekend and go to work the next day to handle their business. You probably know someone who’s gone from the airport to the office and who knows, maybe that person was you. All jokes aside, ask anyone in the rave community, and they’ll say music saved their life. If not that, then they’ll start talking about how music connected them to others. The power of music can’t be denied. Yet, for many, it’s been more than a year without live music unless you’re living in Florida or Texas, as these states have handled COVID-19 safety and health precautions differently than most. The pandemic stripped away a huge element of the dance music community: its people. They are the ones who make up its culture. Every industry member from artists and booking agents to promoters and beyond was a fan first before anything. Without a sense of community, it can be easy to feel disconnected, lost, and hopeless. As the world passes the one-year COVID-19 anniversary, the dance music community has remained intact, but this is not to say it’s been pretty.
In some places of the world, raves never stopped. 6AM has taken a firm stance against hosting any functions until it’s safe to do so. The Anti Covid Techno Club tee is a reminder to the dance music community of its roots: unity. 2020 certainly challenged our community’s unity not only with the pandemic but on a social level at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. The question of ‘should artists keep silent when it came to activism?’ became a topic of discussion, and one we took a clear stance on at 6AM. With tensions now calmed a bit and lockdown restrictions loosening, how will the dance music community show up? Will we learn from the lessons that 2020 taught us?
If you justify DJing indoors for unmasked crowds bc a paycheck…
What's the price tag for gambling your health and your fans' health exactly?
— Dani Deahl (@danideahl) March 23, 2021
Would you attend a limited-capacity festival?
What kind of safety and health measures do you want to see?
One Year COVID-19 Anniversary: Is Dance Music Getting Its Groove Back?
III Points Festival, Hardfest, and Northcoast Music Festival are among many U.S. music festivals that have announced 2021 dates. The increase in vaccination and a steady three-month decline in COVID-19 cases are encouraging signs for event organizers. On top of that, California plans on a June 15 fully reopening if there are no dramatic spikes in cases. While it’s encouraging to see all signs pointing to yes, anxiety is brewing. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, recently shared “I am going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.” Health officials advise against opening up too fast. Parts of Europe that relaxed measures are now once again tightening restrictions. It’s important to recognize the pandemic is not over. Society is not out of the clear… yet.
Passing the one-year COVID-19 anniversary there is a burning question that still lingers, is dance music going to get its groove back this year? Would you rather wait it out one more year to make a safe return?
A more important question: could the dance music industry survive another year of a lifeless physical dancefloor? These are among many uncertainties the music industry faces, but one thing is clear. Patience is the name of the game, and life is all about pivoting and adapting. Accepting that there is no guarantee will help you relax knowing that there is no use stressing over things out of our control.