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"Too Cool To Dance": What Happened to Dance Music?

Between potentially excessive listening to Daft Punk's free streaming of their new album, which is heavily geared towards 70s and 80s disco/dance scene, and having to endure hearing my little sister repeatedly watching Dirty Dancing, I've come to realise something: aside from the new record from the French duo, no one is making music to dance to these days. Sure, the genre of "dance music" is still going, but it's not actually music for dancing. All we really have is the fist-pumping vibes of the ever-controversial EDM scene, or perhaps mosh pits if you have a somewhat heavier taste. Sure, clubs everywhere have packed dancefloors with potential couples joining together to the music, but let's be honest, that ain't dancing, it's effectively just soft porn.
The parents of our generation will often have an "our song" moment to talk about, and while we may think it's incredibly cheesy, and we'll roll our eyes as we see them cuddling away to Bryan Adams, it's an awful lot better than what we'll have. Imagine the teens of today, 30 years from now as their kids gather round them to ask how they met. The father will smile warmly with a twinkle in his eye as he recants the story. "Well kids, our eyes met across a crowded and unnervingly sweaty dancefloor... The Azealia Banks hit "212" was blaring over the speakers, and after a short while of almost aggressive grinding, I knew she was the one."
Now, while I'm being facetious here, if you think about it there really is no sense of a true dance scene anymore. The only music we seem to have around nowadays is either high-tempo, or deliberately "deep" and "emotional" which really just means it's a bit depressing but the singer did a lovely job of it so we'll all applaud them. I'm just saying, there's no romantic dancing involved when you're listening to Adele.
I wholly admit that I do not like dancing. However, it's not that I dislike the thought of it, or the actual activity, it's just that I'm incredibly aware of how awkward and terrible I am at it. But that doesn't mean I don't wish it was still around. There's the oft-used phrase "too cool to dance" (so oft-used that I put it in the title), and while I think there's some merit to it, I personally think from my own experience that it's largely down to insecurities. People are judgemental gits, and no one wants to be the guy who's being laughed at, so rather than dance, we'll just nod our head to the beat, maybe wave a hand for a bit, possibly even stretch to some shuffling of feet. Just as long as there's nothing that makes you look like you're dancing for enjoyment, as opposed to just doing it because you feel you have to as part of the ritual.


Even the dancing that does go on is, as I mentioned earlier, hardly rooted in romance. It's more of an act of "somewhat sleazy but it's alright cos everyone does it here", than an actual attempt at an "emotional connection" with that person. Perhaps it's just that no one goes to these clubs nowadays in a search for a real relationship, so it's just been taken as granted that you're only dancing with this partner because you're hoping to impress them enough to spend a night with them.
The closest alternative we have to that kind of dancing music these days is probably R&B (which is largely linked to the "slow jam" sub-genre) but even then it's certainly a lot more heavy-handed than the purity of the dance music of old. Again, maybe it's worth noting that an awful lot of current music seems to be written in present tense, somewhat establishing the "one-night only" feeling that clubs are full of, but then I'm perhaps reading a bit too much into it.
Whether Daft Punk's new album will bring back dancing is something I remain somewhat pessimistic about (these EDM mega-groups seem far too stuck in and comfortable to be shifted out so easily), but I really hope it does. While I may not be a dancer, I'd like to imagine people being happy enough to just let go and dance again, and having the right music to do it. Then maybe even I will pick it up.

 
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