in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You thought Ministry of Style sucked? Meet the Drainpipe Vampires

(NB: apologies for the relative blog silence of late. Been very busy. A whole backlog of posts will follow over the next month, so stay tuned and check back regularly...)

Walking down Brunswick St after an early morning errand, I was struck with fresh force by how much the streetscape has changed in the past fifteen years. But one thing remains stubbornly unbudged: Ministry of Style.

‘Who the fuck is a raver these days?’ I wondered to myself.

Just as it’s possible that ‘Magic Happens’, I’m willing to concede that there are still ravers around, even that there’s still the odd rave happening – but are there still enough people to justify the existence of a shop that proclaims that the past ten years never happened?

I got home and switched on the TV to catch the last few minutes of Rage. Oh my God, it’s Guru Josh! The sax, the synth, the strobe lights – but more than anything else, people dancing their arses off. ‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘the early 90s: a time when people thought they could change the world just by dancing…’

Moments later, JTV started and I switched off and logged in to my email before ‘the Doctor’ had a chance to insult my intelligence. My sister had sent me some youtube clip with footage of southern American Gospel congregations going absolutely crazy ape-bonkers to Jesus, which in turn had been wedded to a soundtrack of maniacal drum’n’bass. Back in the 90s, you didn’t have to do a cut’n’paste job to achieve the same effect. You just let the track play. I’d been to raves where people dressed head-to-toe like unrepentant fraggles would dance for hours on end to music they didn’t recognise, pausing only to reapply Blistex, water and ecstasy. There was a time where whole rooms full of people used to abandon themselves to dancing – precisely the same people who shopped at Ministry of Sound for their wardrobe.

My next email was from 3000, that wannabe digest that lands, drainpipes-first, in my inbox every fortnight, full of all the latest ‘cool/fool’ info and desirable objects I’m not sure I could ever be coolsie enough to want. But this, of course, is part of being cool: you must never, under any circumstances, appear to want, do, or be anything with all your heart. That’s why there’s so much suffering involved in trying to be cool – you have to try incredibly hard, but you have to do so without being seen to try at all. This also means you can never abandon yourself to anything, least of all a dancefloor full of strangers in swishy fur pants and a track you’ve never heard of, without a chorus or a record deal on Domino. No, you must keep your cool distance at all costs. Make sure that your glossy surface is ironised flat, and that your edge stays pressed.

The 90s were optimistic for all the wrong reasons: they were dreadfully naïve, and the clothes were appalling. But there was also enthusiasm. In the slow move from Wednesdays at Filter, Thursdays at Teriyaki, and Fridays at Centriphugal to a week of Thursdays spent preening and aching at niche bar/gallery openings, Melbourne also forgot how to dance. Ravers were shallow, but coolsies are two-dimensional: they have to be, to get into their pants. And once they’re in them, they can barely move. Drainpipes are vampire trousers, and they’ve drained the hot blood of enthusiasm out of the city’s night. It’s almost enough to send you back to Ministry of Style.

1 comment:

Colin said...

DJ Holy Ghost, ay? Oh no.

Hula hips are the next big thing. You heard it here first.


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