MUSIC IS THE ANSWER.
It's late Wednesday night. And I'm hitting my stride down 10th Ave, boppin’ along to Peter Napoli's preview set for Pines Party 2019. It's the sort of sound that entrances me with all the energy I need to do all that Daisy does. It's then I hear that mantra that I know, or at least hope, to be true, "Music is the answer."
And I stop.
It crashes over me like a wave, the answer to this question that’s been rattling inside my mind over the course of the past year… What is happening to us?
Music is the problem.
You see, I have a grander view of what it is we do when we go out. You should have gathered that by now. When you and I meet on the dance floor, we're not just escaping reality for that moment we create together. Everything about the parties we attend carries with us into our days, our weeks, and our lives. You may easily forget a beautiful face in a crowded room or a shade from the bitch down the bar, but there is something you are intrinsically imprinted with every time you exit the dance floor and it will and always should be the music.
The sound of the parties you frequent becomes the cadence of your life, the rhythm of your heartbeat. You know exactly what I'm talking about. When you close your eyes at night and it's just you in the dark, you feel Lula pulsating inside your mind. You want more. You want to be enveloped by that music again. You want it to be the anthem of all you do.
You play that set when you're at the gym. You play that set when you're at work. You play that set with each step you take down the street. You play that set when you finally fuck the person you’ve always wanted to fuck. You play that set when you masturbate to the one you’ll never get to fuck. You play that set when you can’t fucking control yourself because godammit it feels good to be alive and to be free and to be human.
But ask yourself – is the music of my life raising me up or bringing me down? Is this music my answer?
Four years ago, I was living as a shadow of my potential self in Alabama. My dear friend C and I had work to do in Atlanta. Vicki Powell, a fierce DJ we worked with for a gay wedding, invited us to her "porch-party get-together" known only as Sunday Service at Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. Yes, I'm serious. Look it up. That was the first time I fully experienced how house music can give someone Hope. It was then I really began to understand that music is the answer and that I could carry that energy with me back to Alabama, and know one day I would find the life I'd always wanted. When Vicki played the MK remix of Bakermat's Teach Me, I found an anthem that would give me the strength to prepare for my next leap of faith and it became the rhythm of my heartbeat. If you ever have an opportunity to go hear Vicki or her ATL DJ collective, Deep South, just go. Thank you for giving me Hope, Vicki.
This year, I was extended a truly blessed opportunity to work with DJs RAF and Scott Martin on a new Sunday experience for NYC, Ultramaroon. I had already been very intrigued by their approach to nightlife and what they wanted to give New York - silly fun and soulful sound. The moment I heard these two play together, I realized I'd rediscovered that sound of Hope, one I desperately needed at the time. In the hardest depression of my life, Sundays at The Lately with them, Iman, Dom, Benn, a fab crew of hosts, my dear friends and all the hats I've ever owned became the light I would follow. I had hope again. Music was the answer.
And I'm grateful for all those moments that gave me sparks of hope and kept lighting the way until I finally felt free again; fully revitalized, recharged, and restored to my full Daisy self. From the moment those lights lifted on the Masterbeat stage at Winter Party to that 8am disco ball rising from the crowd at The Black Party, and finally my grand return home directly underneath the Alegria globe at WorldPride. Music was the answer.
It's in tears I write this. Not for myself. But for those that I fear let music influence them in ways they don't even know. Those that let dark music seep into their insecurities, their addictions, their trauma and their pain. Those that try to let the music wash away the real problems that are still there when the song is long over.
Is music the problem?
I've been at a fair number of events that left me feeling less than what I would have hoped for myself and my friends. And if you think I'm talking about one party, you'd be absolutely wrong. Don't forget, Miss Daisy is out and about many places.
I've been at enough after hours where there's nothing after-hours about the music playing. It carries over the high-intensity energy of a primetime Saturday night that feeds a monster that just wants more and more and more until you have nothing left to give. I've fed that monster more and more. I let the music be my problem. I can't be the only one.
Sometimes people try to say, "But Daisy, it's a musical journey."
Where to?! The center of Gay Hell? Who's holding the map upside down and can't read directions? Because we've been going in circles honey, and this soccer mom's van is out of gas, bitch.
Last spring, Morabito released a poignant set entitled Soundrise, which she described as thus:
This compilation is a mixture of downtempo music consisting of tech, deep, and vocal house.
Downtempo music at one time was an essential part of the gay community dance scene starting in the late 70s up until the early 2000s. It would often be played during the last 2-3 hours of a long evening of pulsating energy, as well as the first few hours before the evening began. It was all a part of the arch of an evening where you had a beginning, a middle and an end.
In the 1990s, downtempo music started to surface around Ibiza, where DJs would bring down the vibe with a slower rhythm and gentler electronic music upon approaching sunrise. It’s still being played in Ibiza until this day, and it has emerged again at various events in the gay community in NYC, Brooklyn, and Europe.
Like all music, downtempo has evolved over the years; it's a part of the evening I miss playing in my sets; it was time to put out a podcast for those of you who appreciate it, miss it and are curious about it.
With it, she seemed to beckon her peers to understand the reigns they hold from the DJ booth; to give people the proper dance floor experience with the power they hold: a steady approach to an apex and a gentle, deliberate return back to life as we know it; not "Crank it up to 170, and don't stop 'til the lights come on!” type of shit. This set continues to give me a needed sense of center in times when the world is turning too fast. Take a listen. Morabito will do you good. Thank you M.
Lately there's been a renewed, serious discussion of G in the scene. DJs that have been vocal about it have been scoffed and told to “shut up and play the music.” Producers that don’t know what else to do are asking amongst themselves how do they create safe spaces and still stay in business. Its misuse is leading to less venues having us, less people to create for us, and just fuckin’ less anything for all of us. And I truly cannot begin to start tackling any one of the 1001 argument points being made on all sides, because I just don't have the time, actual knowledge, or energy for it. I think there are wiser Queens that have seen the full show and can give you their two cents. There's also not a lot of discussion about the increased use of T it seems though. It's influence has dimmed too many stars I once counted in my nightlife sky, and it's broken my heart, its breaking my heart, and I’m almost left with no heart left to give. We've got to make a change people.
The deaths we've seen recently don't seem to be enough for anyone to really care. But they never really do. What will? We're not going to change as a community overnight. I know don’t have the answers. But if you can be a friend to someone in need, and they can be a friend back too, and we all become more accountable for what we give permission to be okay, maybe small changes will slowly become big changes and get us back on the path the Queens before us paved for you and me on the dance floors that gave birth to all we know and love about this music.
My goal here is that you start within yourself. (Within my damn self too.) Take a step back and examine the music that really makes you tick. Does it make you better, or does it just keep you going and going until you just might be gone?
This weekend, I'm heading to my first Pines Party. The lineup is made up of my dream team, including Peter Napoli, RAF and Scott Martin, Abel Aguilera, Aaron Aanenson and more. In fact, Peter's 2015 MELT: The Pool Party set was one of the very first to awake my love for house music, and it continues to be a go-to for me when I need music to be the answer. To know I will be entering the beach party with him at the helm gives me a joy in my heart I can't wait to unleash. To know all these talents will be combining forces with some of the best in this industry to conjure all the magic of Fire Island into a tempest of love and light to spark in us a joy we carry wherever we may go – that gives me Hope.
This is a non-judgemental post. Daisy loves you. Do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn't harm yourself or others. My opinion means only something to myself, sitting on my perch, wondering which sunglasses to pull out of my lunchbox for the next afters. All I want is for us all to feel joy, realize our best selves, and achieve all we were meant to share with this world. I want to give us all the happiest days of our lives.
So please, let's take a moment to evaluate how the music of our lives is affecting the life we want for ourselves. Is music still the answer?
I promise you it is.
Music is the answer.
David X Daisy