What the #trancefamily feud says about dance music

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“You are currently tuned in to A State of… Top40? Electro? Dubstep? And not even the cool kind! DJ Fei Fei what are you thinking? This is awful!” And so it was, Saturday night a week ago, that I was informed via a friend’s Facebook status that Los Angeles DJ Fei Fei had dared to enrage the global #trancefamily when she opened the A State Of Trance 550 stage at the Beyond Wonderland festival in her hometown – with a few noisy ‘brostep’ breakdowns.

It’s impossible to even begin to analyse the vitriol that spewed out over the internet shortly after (some of it was abusive and misogynistic, so it’s best left forgotten), but the 50 or so comments that began to quickly build under that same status offered a fair representation of the community’s general attitude towards Fei Fei’s brazen behaviour.

“Genocide … thanks Fei Fei,” said one sullen poster. “A state of rubbish. I'll choon back in later when there's trance on,” was another poster’s disbelief that such an institution could be sullied by a different genre. “When we expect to listen to trance and get given a dubstep set… it’s our god damn right as fans.” It’s our goddamn right! Just imagine the look of self-righteous indignation as that one was typed out on the keyboard.

Never mind the fact the event was part of a multi-stage festival that began in the afternoon, or that Fei Fei was an LA local who’d likely have a fair idea of what would work in her city. Then there’s the fact the music played at the ASOT550 parties could be accused of being embarrassingly commercial at times, or that Fei Fei’s selections were still brimming with bubbling melodies and trancey riffs, and arguably weren’t even that out of key in the first place (albeit with a few additional ‘wubb wubbs’).

Perhaps the reaction was predictable, though; the ASOT listeners inclined to use the infamous #trancefamily Twitter hashtag have become notorious for their distrust of anyone seeking to shift the sonic boundaries a little. Arty and Mat Zo were greeted with accusing jeers of “trouse” when they released their genre-bending single Mozart this year, while the UK’s Gareth Emery (who was sharing the stage last Saturday) has called fans out on their musical intolerance on more than one occasion, striking out at the “pathetic” purists who took offence to the occasional dubstep breakdown in his radio show.

“Dance music genres are not in competition, we are in this scene together,” Emery insisted fruitlessly, to a crowd who weren’t really listening. “If all you want to listen to is 100% trance there are plenty of shows doing that so go listen to them. Sorry to rant but this close minded bullshit really fucks me off.”

Enduring scene leader Ferry Corsten had a few similar words to say to inthemix last year after experiencing a stinging critical reaction to his new ‘trouse’ influenced single Check It Out.

“In dance music, the boundaries are disappearing,” he said. “There are still a lot of people left with a very narrow-minded view, and I was getting frustrated with all the idiots out there with so much to say about something that’s a bit out of the box. If we all start listening to people like that, then dance music will die…There’s so much more interesting music than just trance.”

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