This was originally posted in May, but you need to read this if you haven’t already
A comment on “Sweet Sensation” by Shades Of Rhythm.
Because the comments on those videos are genuinely some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.
Both comments on “Everybody” by Shades Of Rhythm.
If you were being cynical, you could probably say that these comments are just the MDMA-warped memories of a generation of thirty-something men who resent their wives, boring children, mortgages, jobs, and the responsibilities that come with them. You could dismiss their exhortations of the “old days” as merely the rueful people who can’t grasp the modern dance world, with its live streams, forum trolls, and LiveNation wristband raves.
And that may or may not be true. But it doesn’t matter, because what these people are expressing through the unlikely medium of YouTube comments is pure romance. Regardless of what Positiva release caused their Proust-on pills recollections, these people seem to be genuinely conjuring up fragmented glimpses of a lost past, something that is infinitely more life-affirming and valuable than anything spat out by the usual “Hey, remember Pogs!?” school of internet nostalgia.
At some points, it feels like you’re witnessing the outbreak of a new—or at least unrecognized—movement of unwitting outsider poets. While I don’t doubt that some of the people watching and commenting on these vids are highly educated types who ended up running the country and maybe even producing youth culture shows for PBS, a lot of them are almost definitely written by regular people who probably don’t get a chance to express themselves so candidly in their day to day lives.
I like to imagine misty-eyed men and women staying up late in their newly built homes, waiting for their kids to go to bed before they can transport themselves back to their carefree, wide-eyed, hands-in-the-air youths spent blissfully blowing holes in their psyche in New York warehouses and on Balearic beaches. It might be a bit tragic if they were still showing up at Warehouse Project three speckled Doves deep, still losing their shit to “Voodoo Ray” as Joy Orbison plays it 25 years later. But they aren’t, I don’t think. These are people who know that their raving days are over, and are looking back on them rather than trying to recreate them in some Hacienda historical reenactment society. In that way, these are examples of wistful longing rather than regressive nostalgia.
Of course, you’re going to see as many broken dreams as you are sentimental recollections of clubs these people danced, fucked, drank and drugged in, but those have long since gone the way of all things. But even somebody as dispirited as MrCockPirate here can look back on these days with positivity. And in the age where people cringe at photos taken six months ago, that’s pretty cool.
One of the most impressive things you come to realize about rave and hardcore through looking at these comments is its relationship to time and place. It seems that the combination of music, scenario and chemicals created genuinely unforgettable moments in people’s lives, and these videos act as portals back to that time. Who knows, maybe in 25 years tons of people will be talking about the first time they heard “Where Dem Girls At” by Flo Rida and David Guetta. But let’s face it; they won’t be, will they?
This is probably my favorite one. It doesn’t just tell you about a club or a banging remix, but hints at the entire span of some unknown relationship that Phil Davies from Nantwich and Johnny from Coventry once had. A relationship that was subsequently snatched from them, presumably by responsibility and the post-rave diaspora that responsible adulthood created.
Whether they briefly became best friends, whether they put the world to rights in a wire-jawed, late-night session of serotonin fuelled telekinesis as the sun came up at Fantazia, or whether they indulged in some kind of tryst as the piano break came in on “Better Days”, we’ll never know. But the fact that something as ostensibly banal as a YouTube comment can make us ponder such possibilities, acting as a personals ad for a relationship that is long past, is a testament to the evocative power of the internet.
More than anything though, these comments serve as the world’s least effective antidrug PSA. Scan over them (and believe me, I have) and there’s literally no one who claims that ecstasy ruined their life or bank balance and there’s no macho boasting of how much they could handle. Obviously there are dangers to all drugs, and these people aren’t talking about the crystal fear that is chemlab Molly. But if you ever need convincing that nights spent on E can be worth the comedown, you’re gonna find it here.