March 8, 2004
Dance music and drugs in America
This weekend saw the kickoff of the biggest US dance music festival, the 19th annual Winter Music Conference held in Miami. The Ultra Music Festival on Saturday featured awards and performances by many mainstream people like the aging Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto and poor old washed-up Goldie, the far more exciting Ferry Corsten and Way Out West, as well as head-scratchers like Perry Farrell (or DJ Peretz, as he was called for this one-off performance) and Tommy Lee drumming along with a DJ. The NY Times says The Chemical Brothers' set was the best part. Every year, events like this get bigger and bigger, and every year, people comment that dance music just isn't taking off in the US. This year, people blamed the complex and restrictive US copyright laws that make sampling and remixing other people's music more difficult that it is in other countries.
But another legal trend demonstrates that law enforcement appreciates the popularity of dance music, especially in terms of drug consumption at related events. Miami reports 117 arrests on drug charges, and the big bust-up at Sound Factory in NYC over the weekend means we've probably just lost yet another of the city's major clubs. It's too bad that we need massive police presence to define the legitimacy of a cultural development, but admit it, people: dance music has arrived in the US.