Youthquake

The Year in Music 2008: There's just no stopping the march of the SF nightlife Smurfs
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Upping the grunge at Debaser
www.myspace.com/debaser90s
Photo by Chris Brennan

Wooo! Wooooo! No, I'm not a giant faggotty owl. I'm the ghost of recent San Francisco underground dance floors past — equally faggotty — and I controool you. Or at least I did, until that brazen neon bitch from American Apparel showed up on the 2k8 guest list, with his matte lamé leggings, Adderall diet, Marvel comics mask, baile funk BFF, and Ableton plug-ins.

Gurl, I got caught with my ZOMGs down, and it was total fap fap fap.

For more than a decade, I fierce ruled the insular world of club tunes, dividing them up into techno, house, and hip-hop, with some occasional '80s nostalgia on the side. I froze all dance genres in the booty-phat '90s with my snap-hand, casting off up-and-comers with a haughty high-hat spray of laughs. Breakbeats? Electroclash? IDM? Nu-rave? Trance? Specter, please. Passing fancies, they all got swallowed up with ghostly ease. Despite my aging denizens — no more backflips at the breakdowns, no more weekend trips to Body and Soul in NYC, a lazy wash of Rihanna remixes and Mary J. mash-ups — I held all the club cards, and it felt mighty real.

I just never thought the children would use my own tools to destroy me.

Sure, I peeped those Misshapen mid-aughts electro youngsters at the fringes, flashing their disabled glasses and pajama-like outerwear on Lastnightsparty, snapping up Justice remixes on BIGSTEREO, laughing along with Hipster Runoff. And, yeah, I knew that high-school crunkers fetishized "da club"; that feisty programmers refreshed techno; that global styles stewed together in dubstep; that iDJs resurrected ancient categories like grunge and hair metal, irony slowly melting into earnestness.

But all that was old news, relying on even older genres — I mean, electro's like from what, 1972? — and most of those darned kids, I figured, would end up directly beamed into MySpace, never setting a single fluorescent Nike onto me. The few who found their way to the "real" underground — my underground, with my same five goddamned DJs — would still have to bow down before me.

Oh, how wrong I was. I never opened up to any of the newer energies — I was afraid, I got petrified — despite their thrilling old-school affinity, preferring to keep my exhausted thralls lockstep in an endless search for purity, the enslaving chimera of "authenticity."

"Fuck that," said the children, and exploded. This year, especially, the local scene saw an infusion of youth like it hasn't seen since rave. And like rave, there's just no stopping the march of the Smurfs — with more to come, if the wide-eyed, underage flood at LoveFest was any indication. Everything's escaping my control! Lazer bass! Bloody Beetroots remixes! Banger freaks! Electro-cumbia! Disco perversion!

I'd blame the hipsters, except I helped create them, d'oh. And even if, in this onslaught of danceable enthusiasm, some of that old underground feeling seems to be lost — the yearning for an inverted hierarchy to escape the real world, the notion of a special dance floor family — it's still kind of thrilling.

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