Love Saves the Dance
In this epochal shift, in which the new world waits to be named, Giorgio Orbi looks to Club Culture as a last paradigm of negotiation for our future identity. The question we ask ourselves is: «is the quarantine only a warm-up for a bad dj set?»
Me gusta el movimiento, me gusta bailar…
Pier Bucci, Track played during a Dj set, Ibiza, 2007.
We have to make new memories.
Dj Rush, My Palazzo, 2003
Virus aiz… e lo saiz.
Freddy K, Virus il suono di Roma, 1993.
No emotion, Your flesh is all I need
Slayer, Piece by piece, 1986.
Last night a D.J. saved my life from a broken heart.
Indeep, Last night a D.J. saved my life, 1983.
What vision is left and is anyone asking?
Crass, Berketex Bribe, 1981.
I fell love.
Donna Summer, I Remember Yesterday, 1977.
Tomorrow never happens.
Janis Joplin, Ball and chain, 1968.
LOVE SAVES THE DANCE
It seems there are no intrinsic life forms as such and perhaps we are no longer interested in looking for them; since both inside and outside the lab we managed to convert the inorganic into the organic. Before the advent of the Virus we were interested in immortality and life appealed to us only in its eternal version.
That’s why we recorded a multitude of images every day.
Eternity involves overcoming death. There are musical genres that evoke cataclysms and pestilences by developing a lugubrious narrative that is well aligned with the topic.
Other genres have taken on the task of subverting the laws of Time suggesting new units of its measurement.
Metal contributed to the discovery of new landscapes still unexplored by Rock. The more the genre spread, the darker the landscapes got. The more the lyrics narrated death, the faster the guitars played. The subsequent extreme subgenres established a point of no return, both narratively and technically, thanks to a macabre imaginary capable of evoking the most controversial aspects of the human soul.
Metal told us about Coleridge and Edgar Allan Poe, Brutal Death told us about the lives of serial killers and what zombies eat. It is difficult to surpass the blast beat of Cryptopsy or to gain the primacy of atrocity when there is a band around that calls itself Necrophagia.
Iron Maiden, Hallowed by the name, 1982, EMI.
Tracey Emin invited a women-only Grind Core group to the party of one of her exhibitions and Jim Carrey never kept secret his passion for Cannibal Corpse and the guttural grunts emitted by their ex-singer Chris Barnes.
In the first case, the artist selects an underground culture as a form of entertainment, where through its aesthetics the boundaries of art’s research in relation to femininity can be broadened. The introduction of the genre within an unprecedented circuit is acquired as a form that permeates society but at the same time suggests the possibility of a possible break.
In the case of Jim, an actor from the Star System, studying the growl technique as a form of mimesis to access new possibilities of transformism in performance becomes an in-depth study of the acting technique, like in the study of cartoons.
Either way, humor plays a predominant role in choosing the genre.
In a recent live concert of Napalm Death, a lively brigade of children, too young to be called teenagers, were happily dancing the rough sounds of Grind Core veterans. A musical genre that gives a hard time to the peacefulness of every middle-class family, and which may become the future soundtrack of a Pixar film.
Today’s fashion promotes sport as a model to increase its economic growth. Black Culture and Hip Hop have become the main points of reference for this change.
Metal and its aesthetics also participated in affirming the new trend.
The creativity behind band logos, as well as a certain attitude in representing them, are qualities that have successfully been incorporated in the designs of new brands. The time is right, Gabber is played in museums today.
The first three albums of Nuclear Assault, the best ones, came out during the end of the Cold War.
The Queen of England addresses her subjects for the fourth time in 68 years and the Pope issues a plenary indulgence from a deserted St Peter’s Square.
These days the news are produced by Marvel.
From Milan, the city I’m writing from, Neorealism seems to be back in vogue.
A man walks under the sun without a shoe, windows have their shutters closed, the radio, the sound of the tram and the unceasing siren of the ambulances.
Ellen Allien, Washing Machine is speaking, 2005, Bpicht Control.
Miss Djax, Doomsday, 1997, Djax-Up-Beats.
In these dark moments, the role of art is to protect us, to take care of our cognitive and emotional processes, to preserve them with care and to show us the future possibilities of their progress.
Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse left us too early, but Lemmy Kilmister honoured his Motorheads on stage until 2015. He has been on the road since 1959.
The Rolling Stones continue to perform live, as do ZZ Top. Of course, they came a few years later, but they never changed their formation and are still the longest-lasting rock group that maintains the same line-up as they did since the beginning. If we look at the lifestyle of the main characters of both bands, excesses have been the metronome of their daily lives.
It is clear that the average life has gradually lengthened, despite the excesses that we have designed to hinder its longevity and make it seem more exciting.
Rock Culture has witnessed through its characters a disposition towards immortality, a kind of innate attitude. We could consider it perhaps still as an unknown quality of the species, a graft of artificial intelligence with an analog matrix.
Rock has built its mythology thanks to an epic where the bands were the heroes, the music the divinity and the lyrics the doctrine. In Club Culture the intervention of technology has given up words, bringing its followers closer to immortality through rhythm.
The disappearance of experience as a direct witness of knowledge was the sacrifice to pay for the advent of the Internet to build up the power of the Net, when technology monopolized communication, the market opened the doors of success to Club Culture.
The industrial production system has transformed Club Culture from an underground phenomenon into a mainstream one.
It is easier to make one person travel instead of a four-member band.
From there on, rhythm, not the verb, has spread like a contagion.
Usually a conservative system looks at innovations to confront new values and strengthen its tradition. Conversely, innovators know tradition very well if they want to promote new ideas.
Club Culture is a place loved both by conservatives and innovators, it is a successful production system where Time gets reinterpreted by the sounds of Technology.
In the past, Metal was a sort of all male community with a traditional vision, it was difficult to imagine its future due to biological factors related to reproduction.
The Rave for example affirmed a vision of a near future through sounds that have never been heard before, to play and celebrate everything that had already been played and celebrated before. A kind of overcrowded chicken farm lit up all night which, instead of producing eggs, has been experimenting, without knowing, forms for a near future.
«Awareness to understand what cannot be heard cannot be known».
Psychic Tv, Poster for Dream less sweet, 1983, Some Bizarre.
The Acid House Smile has made a long journey to get to where it is today. It migrated from the offices, to the windows of station wagons driven by dads, to kids’ diaries. Later it moved on to ecstasy pills and then it appeared on our phones and monopolized language. Summarized in this way, the exodus of the symbol seems to be the evolution of the spread of a contagion that changes from one species to another to become increasingly stronger.
At the beginning the Smile shyly took over the grammar of our lexicon, replacing the role of punctuation, but in a short time it became the subject, the verb and the object of the sentence.
The exodus of the symbol coincides with the establishment of Club Culture. It would have been impossible to imagine this hyperbole of growth back in the days when the Smile travelled on dad’s station wagon window. Today the Smile travels on a private jet.
«The decline of the fashion system as we know it began when the luxury segment adopted the operating methods of fast fashion.» Giorgio Armani, Open letter to WWD, 2020.
Today, stadiums are filled both by DJs and by Bands. Stadiums have always been the temples of Rock; Dance had a minor role, like an altar boy who carries the sacraments which only the priest can celebrate.
Even Hip Hop today looks at Dance, to 90s Dance, for example. It is a functional exchange because Hip Hop has contributed to the formation of Dance and the DJs, who now occupy a special place in the Olympus of the Deck, and who played Hip Hop at the dawn of their careers.
Very often Rock turns to Dance, when it runs out of content. The deal is like that of a successful businessman who turns to organised crime to solve a certain deal he can’t handle. At the end of the story, the businessman sells his product and the streets are controlled by the gangsters.
Primal Scream, Screamadelica, 1991, Creation Records.
Rock and Dance drop the same wave.
Rock is a monogamous relationship between instruments and musicians. Dance is an orgy between technology and musicians who have forgotten their house keys and play the piano like a doorbell.
DJs are immortal like Marvel heroes.
Their longevity follows the narratives of consumption aiming straight to eternal life; without the feedback of a guitar to announce the next song, and with only the infinite flow of the techno beat.
With the remix, Techno can cannibalize any portion of reality transforming it into rhythm.
Robert Armani, Ambulance, 1991, Dance Mania.
Claude Levi-Strauss, We are all cannibals, 2013, Seuil.
DJs have become immortal because, unlike Bands and their lyrics, they don’t produce memory. Despite the efforts to record and track every movement of their Gigs, from the departure of the private jet to the view from the hotel room, there is no memory of their deeds.
The past is a device that is consumed in the present.
DJs don’t produce memory because every day they contribute to rewriting a new one in a different place.
«Meditate alone, get lost. And don’t try to remember where you have been. If you try to remember it then it will be something that is dead. If you hold on to the memory of it then you will be alone again.» Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Rock builds its memory with lyrics and album covers. It amplifies its diffusion through all the senses. Hearing, sight, taste, touch and smell. A vinyl is a place that contains them all. Rock is human and it reproduces itself through sex, widely practiced. All has been already announced, promised by Elvis Presley’s pelvic movement on the stage.
What is Club Culture’s pelvic movement: Larry Levan’s first attempts to mix, or the conversion from analog to digital format?
Rock unites people and makes them sing and dance together, as if they were one. The DJ brings people together and makes them dance alone, as if they were one.
Yorgos Lanthimos, Lobster, 2015, EL—UK—IR—NL—R.
The Virus separates people to make them be on their own and puts them in contact with the Internet, as if they were one.
The DJ must be recognized for the unique ability of keeping up the tempo with the tempi — the times.
The same quality is pursued by contemporary art curators.
Both the figure of the DJ and the Curator, as we know them today, developed in the 70s.
David Mancuso, New York, USA.
Harald Szeemann, Bern, EU.
The Curator discovers, selects and exhibits the works of artists. The DJ discovers, selects and plays the tracks produced by other DJs.
In Country music there is a shared repertoire of songs that repeat themselves. Free Jazz takes a distance from harmonic improvisation to celebrate the total breakdown of every melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structure. The improvisation of Jazz and its innovative strength were absorbed by Dance, which later reiterated the binary rhythm of its beginnings. Rhythm helped ease the work on cotton fields for African Americans during slavery. A century later, Raves celebrated rhythm through the vibration of the walls and windows of abandoned factories around Europe.
A century later, Raves celebrated rhythm through the vibration of the walls and windows of abandoned factories around Europe. Music is an African invention.
Underground Resistance, Revolution For Change, 1991, Network Record.
Rave has been Club Culture’s secret laboratory. Once it had converted factories into fun, it was unaware that shortly thereafter, thanks to its experiments, Time would have been rewritten by a new unit of measurement: the Party.
At nine in the morning, the last band at Woodstock closes the festival.
Jimi Hendrix’s solo guitar improvisation of the American anthem enters history. The roars emitted by the guitar are reminiscent of the explosions of the war that was being fought in Vietnam.
Jimi Hendrix, National Anthem USA, 1969, Woodstock.
In Rock music, bands play only the songs of their repertoire, and at most they can interpret a cover of another artist. It is rare for a DJ to play their own track during a set.
DJs made many remixes of famous Rock songs and often these became more successful than the originals.
That’s why Paul Oakenfold opened the U2 Zoo Tour.
Could Red Hot Chili Peppers open a Martinez Brothers DJ set?
On the 40th anniversary of the release of the film ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, director Ruggero Deodato announces that the fourth chapter of his cannibal cycle will not be a movie, but a videogame.
Carl Cox closing at Space Ibiza: the last track to end a fifteen-year long night is a song by the Doors.
The Doors, The end, 1967, Elektra Records.
Ibiza was the last home of Christa Päffgen, in art Nico, model, actress and singer of the Velvet Underground.
Club Culture has a different relationship with memory from the one Rock promotes with its spectators; hasn’t the island felt the need to celebrate this great artist with a memorial?
How is death interpreted by this industry? Does it overcome it, foreseeing immortality, or is it a cult extraneous to its followers? Nico was a key figure in the evolution of Rock and its future imaginary.
Velvet Underground and Nico, I’ll be your mirror, 1966, Verve Records.
The virus has declared war to the world.
Factories have closed down and any activity which involves a physical audience has been interrupted.
Walter Benjamin, Experience and poverty, 1933, Gesammelte Schriften.
During the Great Wars, despite the catastrophe, people could still physically meet. Today this is impossible.
Walter Benjamin wrote that during World War I soldiers returned home mute, the emotional space to translate their experience into language had run out. Today we have an unlimited digital space.
Mark Zuckerberg has expressed his concerns regarding the difficulties that servers will encounter to sustain the intense network traffic during the virus; for now, the problem of space concerns the dead, who unfortunately increase every day in number.
The pandemic affects us while still maintaining the qualities that the system promoted as the basis of its extraordinary success: sharing. We can still send each other videos and post our photos, projecting our image in every corner of the world.
But we cannot leave our homes, we cannot meet, we cannot travel.
Usually governments become inadequate when promises are not kept, but the public opinion may still place their trust in them.
The Virus adheres to reality, hits us without betraying the promises made by the system in which it spread.
Maybe it wants to show us the possible conclusions of the narrative we have developed?
Reinhold Messner, The Murder of the impossible, 1968, CAI Magazine.
We can establish a new form of community and plan new ideas of cooperation, but at the moment it seems that we have forgotten the password to log in.
Act early or immediately?
Seek advice from the spirit or from politics?
Think individually or globally?
Evolve the existing or invent what has never been there?
Are we able to create something new, now that certain areas of knowledge are making profit by dedicating themselves to the reiteration of the past?
The system needs an overhaul, as it is unable to support us.
We are still dependent on oil and pollution and have established that animals are not living beings and therefore have no rights.
Once we are cured from the virus, will we go back to our habit of exploiting the environment?
It is important to know this because, in the meantime, the environment has healed.
We take our children to the Hollywood Theater to see ‘Avengers: Endgame’ but the copy is in VHS, someone from the front rows lights a cigarette. The time has come to imagine a new Dance Floor.
In the last thirty years, the spread of Club Culture in the form of the Party has subverted the dynamics of social aggregation, of entertainment as an art form and as a form of consumption, and as a way of creating new expressions and identities of the world.
The device of the Party has in fact rewritten and progressively ‘cannibalised’ larger portions of the context and the reality which originally hosted it.
One of the many aspects of the context-reality that have been rewritten and ‘cannibalised’ by the Party is Time: the passage of time, the duration of time, the biological nature of time, the ‘natural’ alternation of time from night time to day time, and the ‘capitalist’ alternation of the time of production to the time of distraction.
The Party has undertaken its social, cultural but also biological function within the Western thought systems.
But how has the Party changed our relationship with Reality?
How has it changed our relationship with the imagination and how has it changed the relationship between collective memory and individual memory?
These questions all revolve around the relationship between the Party and Reality, perception and experience of Time.
The premises of the global climate crisis and of the rapid spread of the pandemic contribute to the modification of the semantic profile of the Club in our collective imaginary. This epochal change requires a new Club Culture language, capable of representing this complex transition.
The pandemic has put the economic system in a crisis by changing its global structure.
Countries that fail to successfully blend capitalism with politics will be forced to receive help from other states. Troubled states will be subordinated and will not be able to access a reconstructed economic political system.
The Smile will soon become the new cryptocurrency.
Spiral Tribe, Forward the revolution, 1992, Big Life.
Pilldriver, Apocalypse never, 1997, Cold Rush Records.
Viruses are at the origin of serious social, ethical, economic and organizational problems.
In the past, the HIV virus was the carrier of an effective and rapid disintegration of the dance scene, which at the turn of the 70s and 80s had celebrated the most important season in its history.
To reunite, the movement had to wait for the celebration of the second Summer of Love of 1987.
The legacy of that glorious season contributed to the birth of a model for the development of the current industry.
Michel Foucault, L’archéologie du savoir, 1969, Éditions Gallimard.
Club Culture is a culture that should not be underestimated because of its exploitation and mass diffusion.
Mark Leckey, Fiorucci made me hard core, 1999, UK.
Toilet Paper, Circoloco XX Anniversary, 2019, IB.
Jeremy Deller, Everybody in the house, 2019, UK.
Over the years this culture has been used by artists as material to produce works which museums seek to preserve. The Dance Floor is an important topic, a metaphor of our society, not a simple spin-off of it. Conceiving this today, in a time of crisis, can be useful to help us understand the future.
We cannot imagine an unprepared society that is not organized to celebrate dance as a social ritual.
If nothing will be the same as before, we’ll be forced to rewrite the entire semantics of our narrative.
Is quarantine just the warm-up of a bad DJ set?
Are we forced to dismantle capitalism as if it were a temporary hospital, or consolidate its foundations to amplify its repressive possibilities?
Marc Forster, World War Z, 2013, USA—MT.
Ralph Rugoff, May we live in interesting times, 2019, Venice Biennale, IT.
Club Culture can be a magnifier for re-reading and decolonizing the contemporary imaginary because the Club is a liminal area destined to become the scene of renegotiation of our future Western identity.
The new nature of the virus and the effects it has caused on our planet, requires a complete redefinition of its imaginary. The world has become the Club.
Maya Deren, At Land, 1944, USA.
DJs and Clubs are born.
Loeatta Holloway, Hit and Run, 1977, Gold Mind Records.
Late 80’s early 90’s.
Clubbers gather in dark places far from the city center. Clubs are like the catacombs of the early mystical cults of Christianity.
Joe Beltram, Energy Flash, 1991, R&D Record.
Club Culture has spread worldwide. A new dimension of Time emerges as an orientation of the Party rather than Reality. The Party becomes the new unit of measure of Time.
Joss Whedon, The Avengers, 2012, USA.
The Club and its changing experience; beyond the margins of the entertainment industry, of cultural identity, gender, politics and anthropology.
Today the virus has paralyzed the scene and stopped Time; the world has been conquered but, in reality, it is just a trophy we can admire from home.
Today DJs play alone at home. Warehouses are empty and the Boiler Room is broadcasted without an audience. They are very poetic moments that we will always remember; at the same time, in the empty streets of the cities, posters advertising the products of the previous season are turning yellow.
Andrej Tarkovsky, Stalker, 1979, URSS—RDT.
David Cronenberg, The dead zone, 1983, USA.
Meanwhile, new tracks are produced and surely this will be good for a musical genre known for its creativity, endangered by the infinite tours around the world undertaken every year by DJs.
Gran Hotel Passeig de Joan Carles, International Music Summit, 2012, IB.
As the productive sector of a global industry, Club Culture had foreseen an automated future that neither politics nor science seemed to have confidence in, because of their disconnect. Was this the scenario it wanted to anticipate?
Club Culture is at a crossroads where it can choose one of its two most relevant qualities: take credit for being ahead of its time and become one of the lighthouses of contemporary life, or have the will to build what is not yet there and become the strobe light of the future.
MFSB, Love Is the Message, 1973, Philadelphia International Record.
Ibiza, five o’clock in the morning. The smoke machine shoots a jet of liquid propylene on us; it feels like our head is out of the airplane window. In fact, the track that the DJ plays is taking us higher, everyone is dancing and raising their hands upwards as if they are in a prayer.
Now it’s daybreak. We leave the Club to go to another Club. The taxi radio broadcasts a House track, nobody can stop the music in Ibiza. Por favor, puede subir el volume?
Eastern Alps, Dolomites, five o’clock in the morning. I have been walking for some time and I have left the woods, the night and the steep scree behind. Now I have arrived on the Mountain and the sun is about to come out.
The Mountain looks at me in silence, his gaze amplifies the beating of the heart that pumps the rhythm that the steps have taken during the climb. I’ve been standing still for a while and the pace doesn’t slow down, but this is no longer the climb, this is Love.
All around, you can smell the rock, wet from the night and lit by the sun, and the indigo mountain turns golden yellow.
Dance together in the Club, party alone in the Mountains.
Translation: Vittoria Bonifati and Carlotta Pierleoni.
Giorgio Orbi, Studio view, 2020. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.
Giorgio Orbi, There is no other, 2012. Internet image and vinyl cover printed on canvas. (Parrot — Wikipedia, There is No Other — Rave a Graphixx, 1993, Rave Record). 47×3 cm. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.
Giorgio Orbi. Flash Forward, 2017—2016. Tyvek, sun exposure. 96,5×70 cm. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.
Artwork image credit: Courtesy Galleria Alessandra Bonomo.
The title Love Saves the Dance is a tribute to the first legendary party ‘by invitation only’ organized by David Mancuso in 1970 in New York named Love Saves the Day. The party was hosted in his apartment, a big loft (The Loft) remembered today as a temple of House Music and the first Club in the history of disco.
Giorgio Orbi (Rome) lives and works in Milan. Before beginning to regularly exhibit his work in art spaces, he took part in the Italian underground music and art creative scenes of the 90s.
Orbi’s artworks are concerned with the transformation of landscape and the evolutionary dialogue of art genres, where a great diversity of used media plays a significant role. Writing, sound, moving images, sculpture, installations composed of organic elements and not: these are just some of the devices used by the artist to convey his imagination.
Orbi is an alpinist and a mountain lover. Through different media, his work has often dealt with the concept of the Mountain as both a natural and a cultural “presence”.