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When did dance get so damned elitist?

“In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove… One day Jack declared, "Let there be HOUSE!" and house music was born. And, you see, no one man owns house because house music is a universal language, spoken and understood by all... Jack is the one that can bring nations of all Jackers together under one house. You may be black, you may be white; you may be Jew or Gentile. It don't make a difference in OUR House.”

Sounds good right? It’s possible that Chuck Roberts realised he was onto something special when he first laid down that timeless speech back in ’87 — even today his sermon to Jack sounds like the words are being delivered through him rather than from him.

It’s a call to arms, a call for love, and an acknowledgement of a higher unity forged on the world’s dancefloors. It’s everything that our scene should be built on, it’s one of the most sampled acapellas in the history of dance, and it’s the kind of house mythmaking that England’s new wave of rave obsessives cherish…

So can someone tell me why Resident Advisor forums, Facebook event pages, scores of blogs and countless pub chats are awash with spiteful, elitist bitching about ‘chavs’ ruining the scene? Where’s the unity? What on Earth went wrong?

It’s been going on for over a year now — the first overt rupture was when the shuffling craze hit, with hordes of disgruntled ‘real’ house fans dribbling whinges over the blogs like so much tepid tea. The crime — the big crime — was that people were going to dance parties and — fuck me! — dancing. Not shrugging their shoulders, or occasionally putting their hands up, or apologetically stepping from one foot to the other in a kind of dying-for-a-piss skank, but actually doing a dance that required some skill, confidence, and engagement with rhythm. Thing is, it became quickly obvious that the problem wasn’t the dance, the problem was the people doing it. The wrong kind of people. The worst kind of people.

The chavs had got into the raves! Gaahhhhhh! Suddenly there was no guarantee that the chap next to you, politely nodding to Bicep in some Hackney toilet, had actually been to a university. Who knew if he’d even got a Soundcloud account?? Jesus, he’d probably never heard of Kyle Hall! In fact, he wasn’t even nodding... he was… he was ... dancing…! And in some sort of ostentatious, complicated way! What the hell was he doing at a rave! At your rave! The bloody cheek!

So, like a horde of Daily Mail readers bravely facing down a lefty scrounge cripple, the newly appointed guardians of dance did the big thing. They took the battle to the internet. The anti-chav sentiment was born, and since then it’s grown and grown. When Eastern Electrics went tits up last month, the first comments on Resident Advisor crowed about how a ‘chav party’ had gone under. One genius bemoaned that “some of those artists have become chav fare whether we like it or not. Whoever decided Theo Parrish is suited to big arenas has a lot to answer for”.

I can only assume that when this guy (and I know it’s going to be a guy), and countless others moan about ‘chavs’ ‘infiltrating’ the house scene, they’re talking about working class people. Whatever the hell that even means anymore. Maybe they mean people from Essex. Definitely people who are too loud. And definitely people who wear fake tan. Girls wearing heels: check. Oh, and with the constant bitchy references to people who ‘used to be into R&B and garridge’ we can assume they mean (whisper it) people who are just too black. The list goes on and on, but basically it includes anyone that doesn’t come from a lovely cosy world where only lovely cosy people are allowed to listen to lovely music invented by super clever working class black Americans who are basically — by these standards — total chavs that wouldn’t be allowed within five miles of a party playing the music they made.

The logical end point of this bullshit elitism would be raves that are drug free zones of ascetic contemplation; small hermetically sealed caves, attended religiously by a select cartel of carefully vetted rave monks, nodding and biting their lip in grim, determined concentration. There will be no dancing, no one will get high, there will be absolutely no girls and it will be brilliant. What’s that? Boiler what?

Anyway. So look: If you’re going to moan about chavs listening to house music, fair enough. Go right ahead. Ensure you only listen to styles that are 1000% guaranteed to be uncouth pauper free, and let’s see where history leaves you. Course in the '90s, two-step, jungle, hardcore, and house were all deemed to be a bit ‘chavvy’ or a touch ‘rough’ whilst big beat was the refuge of the ‘right sort’ of people. Mmmmm. Big beat. It’s all yours. Enjoy.