Clubland Class War- Raving is 'Working Class & Low Culture'
Monday, April 30, 2001Two British 'quality' newspapers have labelled club culture 'working class' following a recent Channel 4 TV show 'Faking It', which transformed a dowdy 18 year old classical musician into a happy, sexy (and very convincing) London club DJ. "The patronising subtext throughout the film was that a middle class girl of high culture would do far better to loosen up and make like a working class girl of low culture," said Minette Marrin, one of the Daily Telegraph's senior columnists. "The culture of instant gratification looks cool (sometimes) and feels good but it has a heavy price; deferred gratification has a high price too, in self restraint, but it has greater and different rewards. This is what separates high culture from low culture, the aspiring middle classes from the unaspiring rest."
What appeared to terrify the "high culture" advocate was the sheer delight that Sian found in clubland, prompting her to cheerfully declare at the end of the programme, "I feel I would have lost part of my youth if I'd never experienced this (clubbing)." The Observer also labelled club culture working class last week, attributing the recent explosion in cocaine use in the UK to the drudgery and impoverishment of 'working class' lives.
"Is it any coincidence that the only two films that spring to mind where cocaine use is not presented as an unambiguous evil- namely Human Traffic and Superfly - come respectively from working class and black society-" Groucho Club socialite Nicholas Lezard asked. "That, if the only pressing reason you have for getting up in the morning is to do a demeaning, demoralizing and badly paid job, it may make very good sense to stay up all night-"
In fact, dance culture's embrace of the 'working class' instead reflects a coming together of people from all walks of life, with 'deferred gratification' as much a part of the scene as instant fun (saving for a holiday in Ibiza being just one example of exercising self restraint for a later but greater reward). "Dance music has always been quite subversive in a non-threatening way," suggested Orbital producer Phil Hartnoll, in Q magazine this month. "You get straight men hugging each other, you can talk to people without being seen to chat them up. For the Criminal Justice Act to outlaw the playing of 'repetitive beats' means that at some point those in authority felt threatened. Dance music can be very anti-establishment."