Bass Odyssey

YEAR IN MUSIC 2011: Pop goes the world -- a whirlwind year of nightlife and dance music. Plus a nightlife top 11 for 2011 

Amon Tobin's ISAM Live tour was a smashing highlight of 2011

SUPER EGO Is it really such a bad thing that mainstream pop is riding the underground's ass so hard, assimilating alternative nightlife trends almost before they cycle off our freakish dance floors? I'd almost grown addicted to apoplectic pearl-clutching. Britney made a dubstep song! Kanye's using 808s! The Black-Eyed Peas are referencing JJ Fad! Skrillex in general!

Beep me when Moodymann re-edits Sugarland? Now it's so easy to niche myself out of the pop world — dissolving into Soundcloud, consulting my Resident Advisor, Junoing my Beatport, popping my Little White Earbuds, and simply refusing to shop at Costco or workout at Gold's — that it's possible to screw all that noise. When I did encounter radio hits, I loved the blowout sugar rush, even if I found myself getting slightly angry that the one alternaqueer club in Barcelona pumps Rihanna nonironically. Oh, well. It could have been David Guetta. (It really could have been: I have no idea what he sings.)

Also making it easy: this year I got to chase my nightlife passion around the world. I whirled in my seat at a moonlit Sufi music festival in Fez, rocked to live revolutionary hip-hop in Tunis (despite a government curfew that shut down the city at 9 p.m.), laughed at the drunken hazing of graduates at one of the oldest universities in the world in Padua, discovered true underground flamenco in Seville, and danced for about 36 hours straight in Berlin. In recent months Hunky Beau and I have encountered Tuareg rock bands in Ourzazate, line-dancing gay vaqueros in Mexico City, and 6 a.m. beerhalls in Brussels. Have you seen the drag queens in Zihuatanejo? We have seen them and lived. Nightlife is a universal language: it will survive LMFAO.

This nightlife year-in-review isn't my annual list of my favorite parties and promoters in the Bay — that comes out in January, so all you queens who just want to see your name in print will have to hold your cluck-clucks. I will say that a lot of my petty gripes remain the same: there's not enough bass in most of the clubs (embarrassing for those with nights dedicated to bass music), some ladies need to stop clawing me in the back as they push their way through the dance floor, tech dudes should aim higher than Web 1.0 Banana Republic for their club looks, secondhand Russian models do not cut in front of me for the bathroom, and please Facebook invites die already. Also, promoters: if you're going to charge $15-plus to get into a party, then at least do something with the lights beyond "set to default." And throw a little fabric up or something! It's not like you even have to design a flyer anymore. Give your event some ambiance.

But my love for the Bay Area club scene only grows with each place I visit and party I attend. We really do have a special freakish light that shines in the global night, an attention to quality and organic scene cultivation that could rightly be called artisanal. Not that it can't be just plain bonkers, which it very much should be. I'm worried that club music is getting too mannered and club concepts too timid, too polite lately. If any scene can combine wisdom with absurdity, pop-ready energy with radical individuality, it's ours. Hey you, throw a party!



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