Omar Souleyman's Syrian Pop and 9 Best Things on the Dance Music Internet

1. Omar Souleyman on Syrian pop

The producer gave us a primer on Syrian shaabi, celebratory rural folk songs that influenced his current music.

2. An ode to the sound and light engineer

We break down the reasons why you owe more to the sound and light engineers than you know

3. Six steps for helping a friend through a difficult trip

Sara Gael, Director of the Zendo Project, gave THUMP six steps to determine what to do when a friend might be experiencing a difficult trip.

4. Peak Magnetic

Warp artist Clark released the trippy new video for his single, “Peak Magnetic.”

5. James Place

I wanted to confront listeners with love and acceptance.

Place created a record about finding and choosing hope in the face of despair. It’s a timely record, and one we’re grateful to stream exclusively this week.

6. Meet Rebekah

Resident Advisor spoke to the CLR artist about sobriety and her haunting new record.

7. Gay nightlife

Gay nightlife is not dead. It’s just changing and might be better than it’s been in years. THUMP features editor Michelle Lhooq spoke with folks from the gay underground, including Aaron Clark (Honcho), Baronhawk Poitier (TNX), and aCe (Men’s Room).

8. Gender identity and safe spaces in clubs

Trans people are part of the intersectional bedrock of dance music since its very beginnings.

DJ Mag spoke with DJs and producers about the changing cultural landscape for gender identity, safe spaces and diversity in the nightlife world.

9. Top hip hop producers out now

You can trip and fall over 10 new hip hop producers. But who are the rising stars you should know? THUMP’s Ezra Marcus breaks down eight of the best.

10. The first month of Studio 54

Legendary DJ Nicky Siano recalls the famed nightclub’s first few weeks and its struggles to maintain an audience.

It’s Time To Start Thinking About How Queer Nightlife Can Move Forward Under Trump

“I can’t, I can’t…” sobs a young black woman who has collapsed on a flight of stairs at the Boiler Room Weekender festival in Pennsylvania. She has just gotten caught by security for allegedly possessing a small amount of weed. In footage THUMP obtained of the incident, four men in black police uniforms loom over her in a tight circle.

Following the woman’s arrest earlier this month, escalating tensions between the local police and crowd forced Boiler Room to shut down the festival early. Many, including Boiler Room themselves, criticized the police from Lake Harmonya rural town in one of the swing states that swerved red during the presidential electionfor targeting people of color. Even headliner Dev Hynes said he had every page of his notebook searched as his white friends walked by without a second look.

Ever since the festival, I can’t get Jones’ cry out of my head, perhaps because it echoes the last words of Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.” These words, shouted over and over by Black Lives Matter activists over the last few years, convey the despair of a society where racially targeted policing is not an aberration but a normand where a black person is shot every two days by the authorities.

“We want to breathe,” wrote feminist scholar Roxane Gay in a 2015 New York Times op-ed about safe spaces. Gay defines a safe space as “a haven from the harsh realities people face in their everyday lives” because of their race, sexual orientation, or other identities. In electronic music, events are usually called “safe spaces” when they promote a set of values best summarized by a banner that hangs at Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival every year: no sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness.

The Boiler Room Weekender fiasco was a jarring reminder of both the importance and fragility of safe spaces in nightlifeas were, on a much more horrific level, the shootings at Pulse in Orlando and the Bataclan in Paris. It was also, as my colleague Ezra Marcus noted, a wake-up call about the danger of uprooting these safe spaces from the social and geographical context in which they arose (in this case, the ultra liberal New York underground), and transplanting them into a conservative Trump town that does not necessarily share their values.

A festivalgoer at Afropunk (Photo via Aaron Paschal/AP2 Photography)

The festival took place more than three weeks ago, but since the election results rolled in, it feels like our collective hangover has only gotten more painful. In considering what role (if any) safe spaces will play in the electronic music community over the next four years, we are faced with a number of tough but critical questions: Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

Electronic music history suggests that safe spaces have never been free from conflict; in fact, they have always been permeable to hostile intruders. Perhaps safe spaces are neither a myth nor an impenetrable sanctuary, but as Boiler Room put it, a “moving target.” How the rave community has responded during previous times of crisis is what really mattersand previous experience suggests that there are a number of approaches we could take to move forward.

Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

The first is to fight backjust like in the 50s and 60s, when police began raiding gay-friendly bars in New York’s Greenwich Village. According to the research of scholar and activist Moira Kenney, the idea of “safe spaces” actually originated at gay bars on and around Christopher street, because anti-sodomy laws and harassment at the time made it dangerous to be “out” publicly. Tensions between authorities and the LGBTQ+ community had been brewing since at least Prohibition, but when one confrontation between cops and an unnamed lesbian exploded into widescale riots on Christopher Street in 1969, it kickstarted the modern gay rights movement in America.

A Timeline of Christopher Street, New York LGBTQ Nightlife’s Most Storied Thoroughfare

Fighting oppression has a way of bringing people together. Go to an anti-Trump protest today, and you’re likely to see activists from Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter marching next to Muslim-American parents, Bernie-supporting environmentalists, and feminists of every color. In the dance music world, many parties in the weeks after the election (including a White Material showcase I attended in Brooklyn) donated proceeds to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, bolstering them with funds and new supporters. Beyond offering collective catharsis, dancefloors can be potent breeding grounds for political mobilization.

The crowd at a recent Loft party in New York (Photo by August Goulet)

Another option is to withdraw. One foundational tenet of rave culture is that the spaces we party in are “temporary autonomous zones,” where marginalized misfits can escape from oppression. This utopianism came from dance music’s roots in black, Latino, and queer communities in cities like Chicago and Detroit, and is threaded throughout our history. The late David Mancuso fostered a culture of secrecy around his legendary Loft parties by refusing press, sending out personalized invitations, and requiring memberships for entryall to keep his party’s LGBTQ+ crowd, and its culture of tolerance, safe. For the same reason, historically gay spaces like the Paradise Garage and Berghain have always been strict about who gets in. Treating safe spaces as hermetically sealed sanctums is both a form of self-protection and a means of liberation, fostering a sense of anarchic freedom, and a world apart from the unequal one outside the rave’s confines.

However, I would argue that there is a danger in thinking of safe spaces as divorced from reality. What happened at Boiler Room a few weeks back is a pretty harrowing example of that. But it can also endanger situations where people wrongly conflate safety with a lack of discourseas Trump himself did earlier this month. At a recent Hamilton show that Mike Pence attended, an African-American actor from the musical’s notably diverse cast addressed him from the stage, imploring him to “work on behalf of all of us.” Trump responded on Twitter calling the cast “very rude” and demanding an apology for Pence. He tweeted: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. fuck up by not knowing how racist the environment would be? Yes. But white people don’t think about how black people live on a day to day basis,” he said. Still, he praised the Boiler Room team for putting on such a diverse festival with so many black headlinersnoting that no other organization has attempted something like that before. What he said next could be a rallying cry for all of us: “You can’t move on with anything unless you take a risk.”

Michelle Lhooq is THUMP’s Features Editor. Follow her on Twitter.

How Will "Safe Spaces" In Nightlife Survive The Trumpocalypse?

“I can’t, I can’t…” sobs a young black woman who has collapsed on a flight of stairs at the Boiler Room Weekender festival in Pennsylvania. She has just gotten caught by security for allegedly possessing a small amount of weed. In footage THUMP obtained of the incident, four men in black police uniforms loom over her in a tight circle.

Following the woman’s arrest earlier this month, escalating tensions between the local police and crowd forced Boiler Room to shut down the festival early. Many, including Boiler Room themselves, criticized the police from Lake Harmonya rural town in one of the swing states that swerved red during the presidential electionfor targeting people of color. Even headliner Dev Hynes said he had every page of his notebook searched as his white friends walked by without a second look.

Ever since the festival, I can’t get Jones’ cry out of my head, perhaps because it echoes the last words of Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.” These words, shouted over and over by Black Lives Matter activists over the last few years, convey the despair of a society where racially targeted policing is not an aberration but a normand where a black person is shot every two days by the authorities.

“We want to breathe,” wrote feminist scholar Roxane Gay in a 2015 New York Times op-ed about safe spaces. Gay defines a safe space as “a haven from the harsh realities people face in their everyday lives” because of their race, sexual orientation, or other identities. In electronic music, events are usually called “safe spaces” when they promote a set of values best summarized by a banner that hangs at Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival every year: no sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness.

The Boiler Room Weekender fiasco was a jarring reminder of both the importance and fragility of safe spaces in nightlifeas were, on a much more horrific level, the shootings at Pulse in Orlando and the Bataclan in Paris. It was also, as my colleague Ezra Marcus noted, a wake-up call about the danger of uprooting these safe spaces from the social and geographical context in which they arose (in this case, the ultra liberal New York underground), and transplanting them into a conservative Trump town that does not necessarily share their values.

A festivalgoer at Afropunk (Photo via Aaron Paschal/AP2 Photography)

The festival took place more than three weeks ago, but since the election results rolled in, it feels like our collective hangover has only gotten more painful. In considering what role (if any) safe spaces will play in the electronic music community over the next four years, we are faced with a number of tough but critical questions: Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

Electronic music history suggests that safe spaces have never been free from conflict; in fact, they have always been permeable to hostile intruders. Perhaps safe spaces are neither a myth nor an impenetrable sanctuary, but as Boiler Room put it, a “moving target.” How the rave community has responded during previous times of crisis is what really mattersand previous experience suggests that there are a number of approaches we could take to move forward.

Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

The first is to fight backjust like in the 50s and 60s, when police began raiding gay-friendly bars in New York’s Greenwich Village. According to the research of scholar and activist Moira Kenney, the idea of “safe spaces” actually originated at gay bars on and around Christopher street, because anti-sodomy laws and harassment at the time made it dangerous to be “out” publicly. Tensions between authorities and the LGBTQ+ community had been brewing since at least Prohibition, but when one confrontation between cops and an unnamed lesbian exploded into widescale riots on Christopher Street in 1969, it kickstarted the modern gay rights movement in America.

A Timeline of Christopher Street, New York LGBTQ Nightlife’s Most Storied Thoroughfare

Fighting oppression has a way of bringing people together. Go to an anti-Trump protest today, and you’re likely to see activists from Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter marching next to Muslim-American parents, Bernie-supporting environmentalists, and feminists of every color. In the dance music world, many parties in the weeks after the election (including a White Material showcase I attended in Brooklyn) donated proceeds to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, bolstering them with funds and new supporters. Beyond offering collective catharsis, dancefloors can be potent breeding grounds for political mobilization.

The crowd at a recent Loft party in New York (Photo by August Goulet)

Another option is to withdraw. One foundational tenet of rave culture is that the spaces we party in are “temporary autonomous zones,” where marginalized misfits can escape from oppression. This utopianism came from dance music’s roots in black, Latino, and queer communities in cities like Chicago and Detroit, and is threaded throughout our history. The late David Mancuso fostered a culture of secrecy around his legendary Loft parties by refusing press, sending out personalized invitations, and requiring memberships for entryall to keep his party’s LGBTQ+ crowd, and its culture of tolerance, safe. For the same reason, historically gay spaces like the Paradise Garage and Berghain have always been strict about who gets in. Treating safe spaces as hermetically sealed sanctums is both a form of self-protection and a means of liberation, fostering a sense of anarchic freedom, and a world apart from the unequal one outside the rave’s confines.

However, I would argue that there is a danger in thinking of safe spaces as divorced from reality. What happened at Boiler Room a few weeks back is a pretty harrowing example of that. But it can also endanger situations where people wrongly conflate safety with a lack of discourseas Trump himself did earlier this month. At a recent Hamilton show that Mike Pence attended, an African-American actor from the musical’s notably diverse cast addressed him from the stage, imploring him to “work on behalf of all of us.” Trump responded on Twitter calling the cast “very rude” and demanding an apology for Pence. He tweeted: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. fuck up by not knowing how racist the environment would be? Yes. But white people don’t think about how black people live on a day to day basis,” he said. Still, he praised the Boiler Room team for putting on such a diverse festival with so many black headlinersnoting that no other organization has attempted something like that before. What he said next could be a rallying cry for all of us: “You can’t move on with anything unless you take a risk.”

Michelle Lhooq is THUMP’s Features Editor. Follow her on Twitter.

Glasgow Nightspot Sub Club Finally Responded To Social Media Safe Space Criticism

It only took four days of online uproar, accusation and rapidly increasing anger, but Sub Club managed to put out a statement yesterday in response to criticism regarding their use of the term ‘safe space’. It’s been a tumultuous few days.

A quick recap. The origins of the controversy lie in a post from the legendary Glaswegian venue’s official Twitter account last Friday, heralding the club’s credentials as a safe space, since “1987” (the year Sub Club opened, obviously). What was intended as a uneventful assertion of woke credentials by an eager social media manager quickly erupted into full-scale shitstorm.

A swell of incredulous users pointed out that, contrary to the earnest meme, they had been assaulted, groped and made to feel generally unsafe on the club’s dance floor. This led to a fraught debate one Twitter and a resulting piece on the excellent A Thousand Flowers site, who anointed the club their Weekly Wanker, alongside previous luminaries such as Stefan King. In all earnestness, Subby have had better weeks.

As ill-advised as the initial comments might have been, it was the tenor of the club’s response to the criticism that properly ignited the debate. Bluff, unwieldy and tone deaf, it ran at a slightly surreal angle to the sentiments expressed in the safe space post. One Twitter user who’d previously worked at the venue put forward that it wasn’t just revellers that felt unsafe. Despite being “a big fan of subby,” the tweet ran, ‘”I (and multiple friends) were groped there regularly 2006-2012 sooooo”. The club’s official account response (“you worked at sub, are a friend and know us personally. You never once mentioned this to us or stewards as far as we know?”) displayed, according the A Thousand Flowers post:

“zero fundamental understanding of how the culture around sexual violence works to silence those affected, particularly women, (as) they’re just straight up victim-blaming. How can you trust a club that declares itself a safe space but won’t even reflect on what people are telling them about their experiences there?”

Which would seem like the appropriate time to issue an apology, reflect that legitimate concerns have been raised and maybe just acknowledge that the crassness of the initial response doesn’t exactly read particularly brilliantly, at best. Would have been a start wouldn’t it? Hardly perfect, but a little sincere contrition never did any harm now, did it?

Sub Club revellers back in happier times (image via YouTube)

Well, the Subby social media bods seemed to have missed that particular memo. The increasingly bad tempered episode then migrated over to Facebook, with a post on Sunday night that appeared to link the criticism of its initial Twitter posts with the twin horrors of Jo Cox’s assassination and the Orlando massacre which claimed the lives of over 50 people. The status signed off with “It’s important never to be complacent in the face of deliberate and poisonous campaigns of misinformation,” with an accompanying clip of Heaven 17 track ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang.’

It’s really quite difficult to envisage a more spectacular deficit in self-awareness and surplus in self-importance for a pastime thatfor all the talk of transcendence and seamless ecstasyis essentially meaningless. If ever a week was to make that brutally apparent, then it was the week just passed. The response to the post was predictably, and utterly justifiably, one of revulsion.

It’s since been deleted and accompanied by the lengthy statement, apology and pledge to work on safety for attendees. The jury remains out whether it’s a case of too little, much too late for one of the UK’s most famous clubs.

You can read the apology in full, here.

Francisco is on Twitter

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