He lost his hardcore
One 30-something used to work on another magazine in my kapitalist propagation unit (the office). This unfiction about him embodies the dichotomy of the rave experience – whether to use its life-changing potential for personal and/or social revolution or to simply see it as something to dip in and out of as a perfect modern consumer (I’ve done that and now I’m moving on).
For a year or two, he’s been selling off his record collection. When he first sent the Excel files, lovingly prepared with even the cat numbers, it was a perfect distillation of hardcore, jungle and drum & bass circa 1990-2000. All the classics were there – the Belgian shit, We Are E original, all the Terminators, the V stuff, Peshay this, 4 Hero that. I’d salivate just at the thought of this dope on plastic, and along with the odd download from Autonomic or somewhere that has filled many a slow afternoon. The same age as the wax doctor, nevertheless I’ve been a regular purchaser, filling out my hardcore and the gaps between that and 95/96-era jungle (I dropped out of the scene in a solipsistic lack of direction at university). In 20 years’ time I’d rather be a sad dad with a physical reminder of belle epoques to boost fragmented and flagging memory (this will be the new stereotype, replacing that of paternal geeks in attics with train sets). This lad must have been a dj, a face on the scene of whatever region he jumped up in, or at least a very discerning part-time jock.
Never found out though. We have shared geeky knowledge of particular labels or particular riffs, but never juicy vignettes of lost nights in urban warehouses and rural fields. He has meticulously avoided any such comments. With that time-honoured crooked “I’ve been there” smile, I’ll open up to any non-suit, as long as there’s mutual assurance. In other offices, though often for obvious reasons people are wary to disclose their past energy flashes we’ve got down to the nitty-gritty – “oh you used to go to Labyrinth too”/”wow you were into all the Guerilla stuff”, etc. I feel sad that this is a closed chapter for him, particularly when you realise how much energy there is still being generated in hardcore/jungle-derived scenes and sounds the world other (only last week I read D. Rascal saying his favourite music was d&b).
There is evidence that for him the rave years would always have been a meander off the true path of ‘normal’ life. From what little I’ve gleaned, mainly by earwigging, it seems he was privately educated and it seems that that’s how they want kids to get through education (sympathy is lost here). Indeed, the mantra very much excludes any further turning on in favour of the genralised but oft-touted “getting on”; make as much money as possible, only stop when you’re half-dead (which touches on an earlier cull feature that if we are going to be breadheads at least learn about sufficiency rather than excess).
Yet this guy, who has since moved on to work in the ‘financial services industry’ not only looks unhappy, he exudes a profound sense of loss. His excessive self-effacement of his new employers, matching the evasion of his halcyon daze, only served to illustrate an intense disappointment at his unwanted subscription to the programme. I don’t see it as a big case of comedown blues because he is very aware in every respect. There is no chance of him reading this as the blogosphere would also be seen as an immature diversion from the diverse requirements, nay responsibilities, of Life Inc.
As all transcendental materialists know – it doesn’t have to be like that. When I plugged into rave as the acid lines and Detroit strings were giving ways to bleeps and breakbeats, I did so because the scene had potential in it to offer substantive change from society, a flight from Thatcherite self-self-self. No one is asking you to bomb mdma at acid squat parties when you’re 50 but you can take so much from the experience.