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Super DJs forced off the dancefloor

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Super DJs forced off the dancefloor

Audrey Gillan

Wednesday August 20 2003

The Guardian

Once, the fans came by the busload from across the country to see superstar

DJs, the "new rock stars" flown to oversized nightclubs at great expense.

But now dance music, the genre that revolutionised people's clothing, drinking,

drug-taking and socialising habits beyond recognition, is battling for


In the past year, the Liverpool superclub Cream - one of the biggest in the

world - closed down and Gatecrasher, once one of the most hardcore dance clubs


the country, has downshifted to once a month rather than once a week.

Sales of Britain's most popular dance magazine, Mixmag, have declined by 30%

and Ministry of Sound magazine recently closed when its circulation fell below


Pronounced dead by many within the dance music industry, rock has become

happening again, with people more interested in the Strokes, the White Stripes


the Darkness than the latest Pete Tong compilation. The slide guitar has been

squeezing computer-generated music out of the charts.

In the wake of this decline, dance clubs, record producers, promoters and

magazine publishers have all had to rethink their acts. Dance's once hardcore


have grown older and bored listening to beeps and bass, and younger music

lovers are looking for something far removed from what their parents listen to


chillout albums.

Tonight the original superclub, Ministry of Sound, relaunches itself to appeal

to more upmarket clubbers, serving cocktails and allowing older ravers to book

tables to pursue a more sedate form nightspot pleasure.

Other superclubs have tried to rebrand themselves, marking a movement away from

the ecstasy culture that went hand in hand with dance.

Tom Whitwell, a former editor of Mixmag and now deputy editor of the Face said:

"Dance is not dead, but it is resting. At one point it was enormous, with all

the different dance magazine selling about 250,000 a month, but now many of

those magazines have closed down. The problem is dance music didn't evolve in


mainstream as much as it could have done. It became strange having all these


on Radio 1 who were all over 40 and there is a big gap between those that are

playing the music and those that are listening to them. It became very inward

looking. People became very turned off by the superclubs and the super DJs.

"Dance was on top for so long and it was liked by everyone from the coolest

people to the most uncool people for about 12 years. Compared to Britpop it was


hell of a lot longer lasting. It is going underground now, back to more of a

niche thing."

Viv Craske, the editor of Mixmag, feels that despite its circulation drop his

magazine is holding its own in a market which had become saturated with readers

who saw dance as a genre encompassing everything from hardcore and trance to

Kylie Minogue. Now, it is the hardcore dance fans who are buying it.

"It doesn't mean that the genre is dead, it's now a more specialist market," he

said. "Through the mid-1990s these club promoters were global brands, doing big

festivals and brand extensions. Now we are moving away from the overblown to

the grassroots and the up and coming DJs. People no longer want to listen to

cheesy anthems that are nothing to do with clubbing."

Mark Rodol, chief executive of Ministry of Sound, admits that the company has

had to embark on a radical rethink. The clubs forced to close were those which

relied on big-name DJs playing in cavernous rooms. "The super DJ and the

superclub game is over," he said.

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i have no sympathy for the superclubs of the UK. there were victims of their own outlandish hype. Ministry of Sound being valued at over $100 million was a pretty good indication that the hype was getting out of control.

all of them had very similar lineups as well. If they featured much different lineups from each other, then I would be worried. but they didnt.

BBC radio 1 didnt help either :yuck:

the only point at which i'll worry is if Heaven, The End, Turnmills, and Fabric hit hard times.

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