Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Janan Ganesh theorizes about the downfall of rock culture in his article “The great rock ‘n’ roll dwindle” (Life & Art, FT Weekend, December 24). If only, I would suggest.

Rather than being turned off and disappearing away, rock ‘n’ roll has just migrated and devoured other genres, most disturbing dance music. Watch any so-called “rave” today, from the trendy warehouses of Manchester to the industrial spaces of the capital and you will see rock culture to the full effect.

The DJ – the most boring person in the room, because they are “at work” – is usually placed on a stage, to be watched, or worse, filmed by camera-pack fists in unison.

People behave as if they are gig-bound, looking to the front, screaming to get on stage, seemingly ignorant of the clue in dance music’s name. Dance with each other, look at each other’s appearance, the punter as part of the entertainment is almost lost. Musically, the repeated use of the “break down” by DJs around the world replaced the guitar solo as “naff convention du jour”. It’s awful out there, mostly.

The rock festival is largely to blame for that – Glasto sometime around 1990 – when DJs and their sound systems first drove in the back of trucks.

But the rock audiences they met were in their ways. It was a cultural clash doomed to fail. DJs and promoters should also share the responsibility, not knowing when it’s better to be heard but not seen. The rock ego is terribly unattractive, especially in people who for the most part only play other people’s music.

The tragedy of dance music should be those money-spinning classical renditions of early-in-the-day club hits. Largely aimed at middle-aged people, but attracting a frighteningly broad demographic, they will surely appear in any Spinal Tap-style mockumentary aimed at the grand aspirations of the culprits involved.

At one time it seemed as if nothing could replace a disco ball, a stroboscope light and a sweaty cellar. It hurts me that rock ‘n’ roll had different ideas.

Richard Farrow
London SE3, UK

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