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Interview with DJ Sprinkles

img  Tobias Fischer

Although most electronic artists these days tend to dabble their feet both in production and DJing, they still make a point of clearly separating the two disciplines. To Terre Thaemlitz, contrarily, they have always been closely related. After his room mates involuntarily coaxed him into DJing by forcing him to either get rid of his space-consuming record collection or finally 'put it to some use', he began developing his own approach to spinning records and expanding the role of the DJ to that of a tape manipulator and collageur. Virtuosity and live-ness meant very little to him, neither did catering to the supposed demands of the crowd. Rather, DJing was not so much a curatorial but a communal activity, a political process lived out on the dancefloor; not so much a form of entertainment, but an act of sharing. Certainly, his ideal of trying to remain anonymous and of regarding the dancers as the actual performers might sound naive in today's thoroughly through-professionalised world of rockstar DJs. But it was equally divisive in 1991, when Thaemlitz famously received the DJ of the year award from the Sally's II club at the Carter Hotel on 43rd Street only to be fired from the same venue for refusing to play a Gloria Estefan record. And it goes without saying that his Deeperama residency, with its explorative track selection, would hardly have gained its cult popularity, had it been held at Space Ibiza rather than the intimate 300-max capacity Club Module in Tokyo. To get a glimpse behind his aesthetics, Where Dancefloors Stand Still, Thaemlitz's latest mix-CD under his DJ Sprinkles alias, offers a representative glimpse at some of his favourite cuts. At the same time, the album's press release marks it as a response to the fuzoku laws in Japan, regarded by many as a threat to the city's clublife. Accordingly, there is an undercurrent of tension running through these pieces. At home, they constitute a dreamy trip through a soft world of dubby, slowly shifting, caleidoscopic house. But just imagine what these pieces would do in a club setting, in an environment ripe with pre-conditioned expectations and tensions. Thaemlitz's approach to DJing is uncomfortable, because it doesn't just question our aesthetics, but forces us to re-think our entire notion of the dancefloor experience, to leave our comfort zones and become active participants instead of passive consumers. If that doesn't sound like an explosive cocktail, then you clearly haven't been out dancing for a long time.

What were the Deeperama parties like?
The monthly Deeperama events at Module in Shibuya were from 2003-2006. I remember I was working on the K-S.H.E Routes not Roots album during the last year, and testing some of the tracks there. Around that same time I also had some semi-regular events organized by Napalm Tadokoro in Kyoto under the name "Deepa-Licious" – maybe once every 3 or 4 months – but that whole period was a rather unusual burst of regularity in my history as a DJ.

The Deeperama parties in Japan followed the usual Japanese house party format – which is much more focused on active listening than house parties in the West. But that aural attentiveness seems to come with the sacrifice of sexuality and cruising which was so core to the queer and transgendered parties I played decades ago in New York. As a DJ, however, the Japanese model is much more free and flexible. I don’t get complaints, requests, or people making hand gestures for me to "pump it up." People actually work with the music. How fucking amazing is that? Still, the absence of blatant queer sexuality leads to a kind of standardly heteronormative space – you know how "neutrality" under patriarchy unavoidably leans towards the heteronormative. But the Japanese house scene is not aggressively macho, and a lot of the regulars at Module were women ... Too few trans-folk, though. I am unaware of any queer or trans deep house events in Tokyo. I'd like to think they exist here somewhere, though I doubt it. Then again, they don't really exist so much in the US or EU either.

The press release to When Dancefloors Stand Still mentions that the album "intents [sic] nothing else then to free japan's clubs from the fuzoku law restrictions". Can you briefly describe the effects of the fuzoku law on the Japanese club scene in general and your Deeperama parties in particular?
Mule wrote the press release, and I didn't see it until after it was already sent out. In this case, I explained to Toshiya [Kawasaki - owner of Mule] my title for the mix, and reasons for giving it that name, and he was motivated to write the press release as he did. I wasn't expecting him to be so open about it. Given Japan's unpredictable and selective enforcement of the law, there is a degree of wondering how safe it is for people - especially businesses - to be open about their outrage on this subject. So I was happy that he really went public with the theme. I do feel it's a bit of a lost opportunity personally, in that I didn't contribute a text - although Mule is locked into that 4-panel booklet design which is not enough space, especially if I wish to make it bilingual English/Japanese. Still, I'm a little embarrassed by the way that the white pages look like a deliberate gesture of withholding on my part, but to be honest, it's just how Mule designed it.

As for the effects of the fuzoku laws, "fuzoku" translates into "morality code," but I think it's important to state this is not about a moral code rooted in religious fundamentalism. I point that out, simply because most anti-dance movements in the West are tied to Christian fundamentalist values. The fuzoku laws were created shortly after WWII, in an attempt to control sex work and other cultural issues related to the US occupation. Dancehalls were one of the main places GI's met sex workers, which is why restrictions on night clubs and dancing got written into the fuzoku laws. In relation to today's clubs, the fuzoku laws have two main effects. The first is the curfew issue that most Western media focus on. Officially licensed dance clubs are required to stop dancing at 1AM. This basically only applies to the big clubs that are officially licensed as places for public dancing. What seems to be absent from Western media coverage is the fact that many clubs - particularly small and underground venues - may be licensed to sell drinks, but they are not licensed to allow dancing. The fuzoku laws specify that dancing can only legally take place in venues with a certain amount of unobstructed floor space - no support beams on the dance floor, etc. I believe the space requirement is around 125 square meters, although I may be wrong - but Japan is a cramped country, and most spaces are not that large. The law was written this way to create a divide between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" dancehalls, based on the faulty assumption that anyone with the money to construct a big dancehall must be legit and morally upright, whereas sex work only exists in small, dark places ... Wrong.

Anyway, recently a lot of clubs have gotten in trouble because they do not qualify for the official dancing license to begin with. This is the important point - it's not just about licensed dancehalls violating the curfew in fuzoku laws, but a history of Japanese club culture that was never "licensed" or legitimated to begin with. These are the clubs that have "No Dancing" signs posted everywhere, and staff run onto the floor and ask everyone to stop moving when police enter the venue. They can be raided and closed down at any time of day. And the staff is not only protecting the owners - they are protecting themselves, since anyone on a club's official payroll is also hauled into court. That includes minimum wage staff collecting empties and mopping up puke. So it's not simply a curfew issue, although that definitely is one aspect of the situation.

Do you see any chance that a mix-CD like this one can make tangible changes to the situation?
Obviously, I don't believe a CD on its own can change the situation. And if you read the text I wrote against art and music fundraisers after the 2011 tsunami, you know I am also not into charity CDs. This is not a charity CD. Still, a CD can generate discussion and awareness. And the international press can express outrage. But in relation to an issue like this, Japanese lawmakers do not strike me as the kind of people who really care what other countries think. To the contrary, there is a dominant cultural image here of the "Japanese character" as something unique to these islands, which leaves "Japanese morality" only comprehensible to native Japanese. At the same time it's also not fair to say Japanese people will robotically enforce any law just because it's on the books, as proven by the fact these laws sat idle for decades. But in this particular instance, I think there is a bit of a robotic thing happening. One organizer in Yokohama ties the sudden enforcement of fuzoku laws to some other law passed around 2009 or 2010 that placed pressure on police to better document their enforcement of all laws on the books. So maybe it's just about the police generating file reports and statistics. That sounds believable - and explains why clubs suddenly face trouble with no corresponding social movement against dancing. Like, there are no Western-style groups of crazy Christian parents pushing for the enforcement of fuzoku laws to save their children, or anything like that. So it strikes me as a largely bureaucratic problem. In the end, the Japanese legal structure will need to be convinced the fuzoku laws are inhibiting Japanese culture, but come on, conservative judges and politicians could give a fuck about dance cultures, electronic music, etc ... they are too far removed from the subject. I think it currently comes down to the lawsuit against Club Noon in Osaka. If Noon can get the charges against them overturned, that will create a precedent and open the door to real legal discussion for the government revising the fuzoku laws. Hopefully the Noon case will wrap up by the end of 2013.

Meanwhile, I have an upcoming party in Tokyo where I will DJ an all night set from open to close, so in what is also a rather Japanese approach to fuzoku problems, it seems one of the counter-strategies is for clubs and the public to continue doing what they have always done. The fact that the whole of Japanese electronic and dance culture developed under the fuzoku laws is proof that public consensus can speak louder than law. But at some point the law has to catch up.

I'm curious about your approach to mixing. You've previously stated in a few interviews that you "really like DJs who share their collections with people over slick mixing skills". Why is this?
I guess for me it's the difference between seeing underground house music as a kind of folk music (non-mainstream, produced at home primarily for oneself and one's friends or "community," done on a shoestring budget, often with homemade, used or hacked instruments ...), versus being a DJ who is closer to a "session musician" in that they have insane skills but no real specificity - like Paul Schaeffer's keyboard playing or something. For me, the slick DJ's are too rock-star and macho. I'm just interested in delivering the music, and letting it be the focus. I'm not into being watched while playing the music, or making that act of delivery a spectacle.

Richie Hawtin has claimed that he doesn't even know the tracks he's playing anymore – someone will pre-select them for him, he'll use them in one of his sets one night and then forget about them. Your approach seem to suggest there may be value in playing the same tracks several times in constantly changing constellations. What are the benefits of this?
It sounds like Hawtin's expressing the session musician mentality I'm talking about. I mean, he's into a completely different type of dance music - that in itself already makes his approach to DJ-ing and my own apples and oranges. And who knows if that quote's real - the press has put a lot of words I never said in quotation marks. But if it's true, it's definitely an example of what I dislike.

The benefit of revisiting and reflecting upon the same tracks is obvious - you establish histories and reflect on various playback contexts. You can't watch a good movie once and get it all. You can't read a good book once and get it all. The idea of just playing a record once is pretty much relegating oneself to the sonic equivalent of throwaway Pixar and Disney movies. And it will reflect in your track selection and construction, as well as the culture those scenes cultivate, because in that case you just don't have to give a shit. Anything will do. And, ironically, that is precisely how you become a DJ who plays to massive, non-listening crowds that reflexively scream and shout every time you push up the volume, regardless of what shit comes out the speakers. That is a totally mainstream approach, and it is totally reconciled with throwaway consumer culture. It makes for a very boring and vacuous brand of mainstream-friendly "alternative" audio. The materials to be sampled or played around with are not seen as worth of distinctions or conscious selection. That results in a complete erasure of those materials' contexts of production. And, in the case of that Hawtin scenario, even if he doesn't care what tracks are selected, somebody is making those decisions for him. A person who avoids conscious decisions based on one's self-perceived lack of agenda should never be confused with the larger context surrounding one as being free of agendas. Musicians are pros at this self-delusion. It's at the core of mythologies about "simply making music for music's sake..." I don't buy into that mythology. Music for music's sake, like art for art's sake, is a social impossibility. Everything is political.

Can you tell me a bit about the philosophy (if that's the word) of your "Loft style" of mixing, please? Why do you prefer to keep the original tension arches of the pieces intact rather than creating entirely new ones by using merely short snippets of each track?
I think high-pace mixing is just fucking annoying. And that DJ-ing ideal you talk about, making "new tracks" out of snippets, doesn't really happen. I mean, I don't believe that's the feeling people get on the dancefloor. It's just going from one track to the next, which is different from maybe repeating phrases from the same records over and over to make something new. There's no time to get into the tracks or sounds. The notion of repetition is one of the most identifiable aspects of house music, so it doesn't sound like a match to me. Again, it becomes like consumable throw-away culture, to plow through 100 tracks per set. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I am sure there is a high-pace DJ out there that would make me say, "Wow," but I haven't heard one. Maybe a 30-minute high-paced DJ set only moving between the same two or three records could be interesting. I think that would get closer to what you're talking about, because the listener could start to get a sense of the limitations within which the DJ is operating. Those limitations then start to construct language.

I mean, I think in your question you're trying to set up some kind of argument about the DJ as musician, and how the act of DJ-ing is just as creative as working in a studio. But I want to invert that argument, and get away from creativity as a goal. I'm not interested in the DJ expressing creativity any more than I could give a shit about some rock guitarist noodling away. The entire argument about the musical artistry of the DJ seems like a mistake to me, because there are really important lessons to be heard in electronic music that destroy the history of musicology, of creativity, of artistry, etc. I want to get away from all that creative shit! Break it all down to social patterns, signs and codes. The sonic signs of "creativity" and "expression" are not what I aim for in my sets, and I don't usually appreciate those signs in the sets of others simply because - culturally speaking - they are utterly conservative signs with very loaded relationships to dominant cultural practices, and patriarchy. There's no escape - I don't have a solution - but in those instances I think the sonic signs of creativity disavow certain aspects of "underground" contexts that are important to me - that includes spaces which seek to resist dominant models of creation and ownership - so I'm just trying to turn the volume down on those standard creative signs. Do you get what I mean?

The latter question also opens up the debate between the relationship between performing and DJing. How strictly do you separate them? What's your take on reworking pieces in real-time or on "DJing in parts", where elements of five to six different tracks could be playing simultaneously, resulting in something entirely different from each one?
Okay, yeah, this is exactly where I thought you were heading ... I mean, you're ultimately talking about sample based music. I want to speak of the sample in relation to the destruction of creativity and originality. I want to speak of the sample as appropriation, and footnotes. Not footnotes pointing to "original authors," but footnotes pointing to contexts of production that fostered the social relations around the recording of a sound source. The sample as a moment of inauthenticity. The sample as cultural reference, not cultural creation. I don't want to conquer a sample and "make it my own" as a DJ. I'm totally uninterested in that way of listening to sample based music. So it is from this perspective that I am saying to you, "Yes, I agree, DJ-ing is a form of live performance," but I say that as part of my argument, "live performance is no more valid than tape playback."

For me, in terms of action, my DJ-ing is probably more "live" than my computer music performances. I move around, tweak sliders and knobs, etc. In my more "serious" computer music performances I very blatantly push "play" and sit still before an audience for an hour or 90 minutes - which is a critical rejection of both the rock stage rooted in self-expression, and the transgendered stage rooted in camp flamboyancy. So in the end, if I do some real-time effects or whatever during a DJ set, that doesn't really make the performance more valid for me. To the contrary, I want to say playing conventional "live musical instruments" is invalid, passe, done. So a DJ "creatively" playing 20 records at once is not more valid than my playing one at a time. And my approach is not more valid, either. I'm saying it's all invalid - in a good way. When I was mixing ambient sets, I would have four or more channels going at once whenever possible - vinyl, CD, DAT, etc ... but most of the time it wasn't possible - so does that invalidate those less technically complex sets at venues with no budget for large quantities of gear in the DJ booth?

The trap of the argument you are setting up is that it is once again reinvesting performance with value, whereas the real value I identify within electronic (and specifically sample-based) audio is its divestment of the value of performance! There was a brief window of time in the 80s and 90s where people were interested in this divestment - in getting away from artistry. But no more, it seems. Anti-sampling legal campaigns and the corporate backfire of ambient music ruined it. We ended up with The Orb on stage as a four man band, DJ Spooky as the individual faceplate of "communal" Illbient music, etc ... The vanity of DJ culture destroyed its own potential as a force to combat the cults of identity around which dominant culture insists music revolves. I mean, that impending contradiction was the set-up for the joke of my releasing my ambient and electroacoustic projects under my legal name, Terre Thaemlitz. By conventional standards, branding audio with one's legal name is a claim of authorship. So the gesture of my sarcastically enacting that claim within the "anonymous" ambient audio marketplace was acknowledging that no matter how hard one works to dissect creativity, people keep slapping the "artist" label back on you. Using my name has always been an ironic reference to the impossibility for us to culturally escape all the asshole ego-individualist bullshit. Nobody's laughed yet, though. And despite my releasing under many, many monikers, people still always reduce all my projects back to one of two names: Sprinkles or Thaemlitz ... Classic binary formation. So predictable.

You've said that you don't like homogenisation on records, i.e. the pervasive tendency for albums to remain in a single mood/style/approach. Homogenisation is also a fact in most clubs, which rely strongly on patterns of meeting certain expectations. Are you under the impression that this tendency has become worse over the years? How far, do you feel, can you take a house set today?
When I was at Module, I took it wherever I wanted - I felt people were really open to anything. I think that is apparent in the recordings of Deeperama mixes from that time. I'm lucky to have had that experience, as it's rare. In a way, I feel my sets have gotten a bit more conservative and homogeneous in recent years. Mostly because I am stepping into unknown cities and venues, where a lot of the audience not only has no idea who I am, but no familiarity with the style of music I play, nor its histories. So that creates pressure to keep it simple. To counter that stylistic reductionism, I began playing a lot of my own tracks and remixes, which still creates a kind of homogeneity of mood - but I think the effect of that consistency within my own tracks played over several hours is different from a more mainstream house homogeneity, because my tracks have a lot of silences, downtimes, ambient passages, and buildups that don't quite build up correctly, etc ... so it's still disorienting enough, I hope. But it really depends on the sound system. Some systems really don't work with my own tracks because many clubs are actually in mono, and not stereo. I do a lot of stereo effects in the bass range, which puts the bass waveforms out of phase, which means sounds cancel each other out and disappear when combined to mono. So when selecting tracks I kind of just wing it every time. I don't prepare sets ahead of time. I always just decide what to play at that time and place.

Some people have criticised your sets for being "too slow and anti-climactic". You don't seem to take that as an insult. Are there perhaps some musical qualities that only emerge of your set is slow and anti-climactic?
I think it becomes a bit more immersive, and asks people to participate with their ears. Even a simple thing like playing tracks from start to finish makes people notice that something strange is happening ... They notice the music is not just there to soundtrack their cathartic release, but that they are also there to work with the music, and use it as fuel to build that release. A real dancer works the dancefloor. That 's not just a cheesy house sample - you have to WORK on the floor! And to me, that seems like a more social approach to using sound. It points to a context outside of the dancer's head. Not everyone wants that. Clearly, drunk and high party people who just want to scream to tracks they already know will get angry, because the relationship to music they seek is one of master and servant - consumer egotism. The aggression with which people request shit music, combined with the attitude DJ's get from a lot of staff and security guards at bigger clubs, makes it clear the DJ is not the master of the house - although a lot of ego-DJ's act otherwise. We're all just there to work, baby!

In a previous interview, you spoke about "this crisis of being a white DJ playing primarily black music in a Japanese environment, where people continue to frame the music as being, like, roots music or something very black in a purist sense". So what does house music really mean to you?
Meanings change with context. It's always a situation. When I said that quote, I was speaking about how any real discussion of music's relation to race, like any real discussion of its relation to sexuality or gender, must focus on the specific contexts and methods of oppression by which race and other identities have been used to exclude some while granting access to others. The standard paradigm of using race to determine what is authentic music vs. inauthentic music (or who is an authentic producer or listener) is commonplace in both dominant mainstream media and the works of those struggling against dominant culture. But that paradigm is not complex enough to open a discussion about cultural dominations and power struggles. It is not complex enough to actually speak about racism as a cultural process. To the contrary, it further essentializes the question of who deserves access to, or owns, particular aspects of culture - which is precisely the strategy historically and currently used by racist, religious, heterosexist patriarchies around the world: that only a particular type of person within a given locality deserves access to that society's privileges. And there is no question that the economics and marketing behind "black music" - a category of which house music is a part - turns upon the mass internalization of racial identities in relation to authenticity. As long as the conversation involves an origin story rooted in racial authenticity (as opposed to historical context) - or any other identity construct like gender, or sexuality, or ethnicity, or class - you will never get to the necessary discussion of how social contexts have constructed and abused people through those identity categorizations. And by extension, you will never get to a real discussion of the cultural functions of a genre like house music within various social contexts. Anything less than these discussions unwittingly perpetuates other systems of domination.

For example, while I can sympathize with something like Moodymann's insistence upon house music's relationship to an "authentic black experience," his model of what it is to be "black" is pretty limited to a heterosexist male view, and can only retain its power as an argument against audio gentrification so long as we ignore the kinds of spaces he imagines (black and other) women, (black and other) queers and (black and other) transgendered people inhabit within his "authentic" social paradigm. Within his model, a club like Sally's II, where I started out and which was a primarily Latina and African American transsexual sex worker scene connected to vogueing and balls, can only exist in his house-world on the down low ... if it can exist at all. Yet Sally's is also undeniably the kind of place people refer to as having an "authentic" position within the history of house and the Ball scene. So we are instantly confronted by the reality that race alone does not define a safe space or comfort zone. Nor does it even guarantee access to the very spaces associated with one's own race - such as Moodymann's construction of a particular "black experience" that excludes many other "black experiences." Like, if you're male, you've got to be a straight man's man, and if you're female you're either a bitch or a mother figure. Well, I know that doesn't sound very inviting to a lot of black people from the house scenes I have known - let alone active and involved people of other races. All of which calls into question the terms of his own claims of "authenticity." That is not to say he is fraudulent - it is to say "authenticity" is a distraction from the real issues at hand. His narrative of house is performing many of the very exclusions found in US society at large, as well as within African-American communities - although I would like to believe inadvertently, or unthinkingly. At the same time, as a result of real bigotries, the social roles one finds in the Ball scene are, ironically, pretty much the same ones Moodymann defines, only in parody: straight male Johns or butch queens on the down-low, trans-bitches and mother figures.

So, there are ways to move the discussion such that now we're suddenly forced to think of race as just one variable within more complex social arenas. And, importantly, by divesting race of its power of experiential authenticity, it becomes more difficult to dismiss the effects of racism upon racially defined bodies. It becomes more difficult to deny racism, or enter some bullshit liberal humanist moment where people can say race does not matter. Or gender does not matter. Or sexuality does not matter. Or class does not matter. People can learn to see dominations more intricately - which helps them more thoroughly react against them. Not grow numb and pretend something such as racism could ever be a non-issue. House - like all musics - exists in that complexity. And we quickly realize the "house sound" does not have some inherent ability to evoke communal safety or comfort either.

Consider that incident a year or two ago when Moodymann asked a German club to hang a wall of sheets around the DJ booth to block him from view of a primarily white German audience.I assume he was defensively trying to cope with feelings of exploitation, and not wanting to give white kids the equivalent of a minstrel show. I can also assume that in return the audience took this as an aggressive assertion of blackness as the key to access of his sets, and the sheets were his way of denying them entry. I can imagine a few others things he might have been thinking, too. I mean, you should understand, I'm saying all of this as a fan who owns a lot of his albums. A disillusioned fan since I saw his macho bravado in the RBMA interview, but still a fan. I like his music a lot. And I wouldn't waste my time thinking about it this much if I didn't take it seriously. Issues of racism, the loss of identity, the loss of community, and audio gentrification - which parallels actual gentrification - are real. These issues are absolutely in need of being relentlessly kept in peoples' faces. But when doing so, I feel the exclusions in his language of "racial authenticity" weakens the critique of racism he wants to make.

"Racial authenticity" also goes against the self-proclaimed intentions of people who say they want to use house music as a way of helping all people feel free, or creating spaces that they believe allow everyone to actually be free. This is especially true for non-black people using completely fucked up, romantic fictions of African tribalism to interpret their "black music" catharses - which also happens here in Japan. That is no different than orientalism. Obviously, this climate is what pisses of Moodymann. I guarantee Moodymann was not feeling free behind those sheets. Freedom isn't real. It can never be anything other than an illusion. But struggle and resistance are real. "Feeling free" and "resisting" are two different things. Which one you prioritize will determine what ideologies you employ, and deploy. House could be a soundtrack to resistance, if we are willing to unchain it from the ideological shackles of "freedom" ...But I doubt that will happen. Simply convincing oneself that you "feel free" is psychologically easier than committing oneself to conscious and endless struggles. Still, I guess that's what house in its finest moments has meant, and continues to mean to me: struggle. Not authentic or inauthentic. Not real or fake. If people are willing to open their ears, there is a house connection to fucking brutal and messy reality - mostly all boiling down to histories of poverty and economic exploitation assisted by essentializations of identities such as race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality - and that is not something to bury in the mix. That is the material history of music. Let deep house be deep!

Over here, Japan has minimum wage earners risking being taken to court just to facilitate our dance spaces. That is fucked up. And it displays a bad social character if people can enter a club space within such a political climate, without any concerns for solidarity, and just selfishly party for their own pleasure - even getting angry with staff asking them to stop dancing when the police enter. Stand together! The modern US LGBT movement was born out of police raids on transgendered clubs in New York. The World Health Organization's policies on HIV/AIDS education were influenced by outreach practices first implemented within gay clubs. These are the rare moments in which club cultures really do have an impact on history - the moments that make up for all the vapid bullshit. Let's face it, by only focusing on fuzoku laws in relation to the "right to dance," people are abandoning the cause of sex workers who will still be left controlled by fuzoku laws. Are we okay with that? Are we really taking care to rewrite the restrictions on dancing in ways that will not simultaneously crystalize fuzoku restrictions against sex work in ways that lead to more troubles for already struggling people? (Think of how Obamacare re-legitimized private "competitive" health insurance, making it impossible for the US to ever have real public health care.) For example, one of the repercussions of Japanese crackdowns on organized sex work under fuzoku laws - crackdowns which have been happening more frequently over these past 10 years before the crackdowns on clubs - has resulted in a reduction of controlled spaces for sex work, and an increase in "non-professional" sex workers (housewives, students, etc.) willing to go with strangers into unknown spaces. This has increased the amount of verbal and physical violence, rape and other abuses faced by sex workers. Do we care? Are we really so vain as to think the fuzoku issue will be resolved once people in Japan can legally dance in small rooms, or past 1AM? Are we really embracing those most affected by fuzoku laws as our sisters and brothers? In the end, it's always way bigger than the dancing. Way bigger than the music. All music is just symptomatic of contexts of oppression, regardless of how most of us have been conditioned to insist upon infantilizing our relationships to it.

By Tobias Fischer
Image by Johnathan F. Lee

Homepage: Terre Thaemlitz
Homepage: Mule Musiq