When I was a wee lad, no one played electronic dance music anywhere in America — not on the radio and not in clubs.
So I dragged my then-girlfriend to the only club in New Orleans that spun any kind of EDM. It was an “industrial dance club.” It was severe, like an execution chamber, yet refined.
I had to wear a suit and tie to get in.
The beat never changed. Never. Not once. There were no vocals. No melodies. It was just this industrial-saw sound (“Zzhrr-zzhrr-zzhrr”) for an hour straight.
So we left, drenched in sweat, and we never went back.
Now look at how far EDM has come — taking over the Strip, YouTube and the pop charts.
“What you’re seeing here in the U.S. right now is what you saw in Europe in 1999,” says Markus Schulz, who performs tonight at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ club Marquee.
Obviously, therefore, America has also lagged behind Europe in offering offshoots of EDM, such as dubstep.
Dupstep didn’t become big in Vegas and America until last year, when Skrillex sawed his way through the music charts and influenced Vegas clubs to go dubstep all year long.
DJ Afrojack, performing tonight at Encore’s club Surrender, tells me by phone from Holland how much America has caught up to dubstep.
“The dub scene has been really big here,” Afrojack says. “What’s happening in America now for the last two or three years — has been happening in Holland for the last 20 years.”
Wow. Way to go America, we were only two decades behind in dubstep. Hurray.
“The dance culture is really normal here” in Holland, Afrojack says. “You have, like, 10 parties every weekend, and like one hour away, with super DJs playing everywhere.”
Afrojack is thrilled hotels on the Strip have become his homes away from home.
“Vegas is set to be the party capital of the whole world,” Afrojack says. “They have EDC (the Electric Daisy Carnival) and all the clubs.”
Afrojack, known as one of the biggest partyers in DJing, says there’s only one “weird thing” about Vegas:
“The age limit is 21. And in Europe, it’s 18. I don’t know about that, actually.”
(I am going to pretend I don’t really know what he means by that, so let’s move on.)
“This whole EDM scene blew up with this generation of clubbers,” says Schulz, who moved from Germany to Miami as a kid.
Who are these 21-year-old kids in the clubs?
“If you look at everybody, they’re rebelling against the music that their parents listened to — and the music their parents listened to was hip-hop,” Schulz says.
That is definitely true. On dance floors, hip-hop has moved over to make way for electronic dance music.
Hip-hop has also been squeezed out somewhat by electronic music online and on satellite radio.
Online, there are tons of EDM sources — free sites such as Soundcloud.com, and song-buying sites such as Beatport.com.
And then there are the fantastic EDM stations on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Schulz offers his music both for free and for SiriusXM subscribers.
He spins progressive, house and trance hits on “Markus Schulz: Global DJ Broadcast” at 3 p.m. Tuesdays (rebroadcast at 6 p.m. Thursdays) on Sirius’ “Electric Area” channel.
And he offers his “Global DJ Broadcast” on Spotify, Beatport, ArmadaMusic.com and iTunes.
Like many DJs, Schulz gives much of his music away — but he gets a big payday for performances.
“This generation (of music fans) looks at music as something to be shared” for free, he says. “We used to go on tour to promote our album sales. Now you put out albums to promote your tours.”
Schulz’s radio show is also syndicated on 50 stations across planet Earth.
“It’s really awesome when you get emails from people all over the world. It just tells you how far this music reaches,” Schulz says.
And now, at last, EDM reaches Vegas and America.
“It’s cool to see it finally happening here,” Schulz says.
I couldn’t agree more. And I couldn’t be happier I don’t have to wear a suit and tie to listen to it in a club, as I did in that death-chamber industrial dance club, lo, so many girlfriends ago.
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.