Bursting the bubble

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Entering the club for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I was lovingly greeted by the sweet stench of sweat slapping me in the face. Almost a rite of passage (akin to completing an assignment whilst being powered by enough caffeine to fell a horse), the clubbing scene in Durham is familiar to virtually every student to pass through the hallowed doors of the Bill Bryson library.

Sweaty, blinding and deafening to boot, there is an odd charm to the clubbing scene of our lovely city. And when I say odd, I do mean odd. When I had imagined clubbing, inspired by countless movies and TV shows, I had imagined the pinnacle of youth; of glamour, and, most importantly, good tunes. So you can imagine the disappointment when (after having recovered from the initial olfactory assault) the cheesy music of eras before sank in. And I know it’s not just me either. Drawing on the experience from my fellow students, it is a unanimous voice that declares the music of the Durham clubbing scene to be lacking.

It is an unanimous voice that declares the music of the Durham clubbing scene to be lacking

And why would that be? There are plenty of wacky-themed nights out there (Gregg’s night at Players anyone?) featuring prominent mainstream artists like Drake or Taylor Swift. Whilst some might argue their musical ‘value’ would be lesser due to their status on the charts, it still doesn’t lessen the fact that their output is still catchy and thus valuable perhaps in a different sense to the naysayers’. It’s more of the fact that their newer discography (even on those hallowed-themed nights) is not explored to the extent it could be. Instead, they are often undercut by the same tracks that have been bellowed for decades by generations of primary school children.

The reaction of the crowd to these songs is always positive, as you would expect the result to be when the drink reacts to the Cha Cha Slide. However, this continual positive reinforcement only encourages a lack of creativity. Nostalgia for simpler times should not be the driving force in a space for young adults. 

It would appear that we… have lost our appetite for something new

There is much potential for the clubbing scene in Durham – just look to our North Eastern neighbours in Sheffield or Leeds for their thriving underground music scene. It’s not even that we have a lack of talented DJs/musicians within our vicinity either – it’s just that those who might push the envelope aren’t always given an adequate platform. It would appear that we, as an audience, have lost our appetite for something new. And whilst Fabio’s does often feature fresher material than their counterparts, spotlighting independent student DJs through events such as Rotate, Durham n Bass, etc., but being an oasis of originality in and amongst established ‘oldies’ can not effectively cause the ripple needed.

Whilst it appears as if I have been exceedingly scathing in my consideration of the old ‘sing-a-long’ classic, it should be stated that I have nothing against a bit of cheese. Crowd pleasers like ABBA’s Mamma Mia or Boney M’s Rasputin hold a very special place in my heart and I am more than happy to activate my old dancing bones to reimagine school discos past when they come blasting over the speakers. 

It is the over-reliance on these old standards that lets us down and perhaps has earned us a reputation for a, quote-unquote, ‘rubbish night out’. Simply accepting such an accolade lying down would not be justifiable for the talented DJs within our city limits – both student and local. It is, therefore, perhaps time to burst out of that Durham bubble and to allow individuals to inspire and to lead a new push for our club music scene. 

image: Blahtrap via Wikimedia Commons

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