Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Galaxy 2 Galaxy

One of museum directors' great worries is how to get more good-looking people to visit their collections. They employ world-class architects to create buildings filled with beautiful and enlightening objects, and then the spotty, balding, punters in their unsightly leisure wear come along and spoil it all.

Of course, I would never dream of visiting a museum without stopping off at Trumper's, taking a freshly pressed tweed suit out of the wardrobe, and selecting an appropriate cravat and handkerchief, but not everyone is so public spirited. But I think the American Museum of Natural History could have solved the problem.

In a neat piece of mountain/Mohammed reasoning, the museum has figured out that, although nightclub patrons might not be all that into science, they are, on average, relatively easy on the eye. So the museum has started booking DJs. Not some no-hoper playing 'Superstition' at an unobtrusive volume to be ignored by drink-sipping-late-night-opening types. No, proper DJs what beat-match, and twiddle the knobs on the mixer, and whose names you might have heard of, and who play their records at conversation-negating volume, and everything.

Last Friday they had Josh Wink and Axsel 'Superpitcher' Schaufler (whose haircut, wardrobe and moves come straight from a English synthpop band circa 1981, not that there's anything wrong with that), playing several hours of techy beats in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. And the trendy twentysomethings came in their droves.

(One thing, though: why did the VJs deploy the usual bog-standard psychedelia? When you're surrounded by the most amazing sights in the Universe, you need to up your game a bit. Next time, get off to the NASA site and download some nebulae shots.)

This is more appropriate than it might at first appear; techno and space go back a ways. Several of the early Detroit acts had a futuristic, sci-fi aesthetic. Specifically Drexciya, and Underground Resistance, whose 1992 album "X-102 Discovers the Rings of Saturn" has tracks called Titan, Enceladus, and so on. (I believe that on the original vinyl, the tracks are each in their own groove, so that they don't play continuously, but you have to lift the needle and move from track to track. This is cool, but I couldn't tell you why.)

This worldview seems a little bit quaint now; at the club night, it struck me how there's nothing more retro than the future. Today's dance-music subgenres tend to emphasize the dirty, grimy and nasty (hell, one of them's even called grime). Which seems more fitting to today's world. Whereas dancing to techno under the giant white sphere of the Hayden Planetarium feels more like a party out of Barbarella.

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