Thursday, June 14, 2007

Inconsistent constituencies

I've been dancing at X-TRA's More than Mode event every week for about eight months now. Although the DJ's constantly rotate, they all tend to play the same songs, and I've learned the words to most of the English ones just through repeated exposure while shaking my hips. The stasis can be a bit tedious at times, but the routine also has an air of comfort and familiarity. More importantly, I go to let the pounding bass become a metronome by which I can structure my actions and thoughts, not to discover new bands. I don't particularly like most of the stuff they play, regardless of variety. The verse-chorus-verse structure and simple, repeating melodies of club standards will never engage me intellectually, but more nuanced music is usually not very good for rhythmic gyrations.

Attending every week, I've come to recognize the regulars. Sometimes, they even acknowledge my existence, although in practice I tend to discourage such interactions. What surprises me, though, is that the crowd of regulars shifts over a time scale of perhaps three months. People who appeared without fail every single week in December and January have not graced the assembled black-clad masses with their presence in weeks. I can't decide whether these prodigal children have moved on to other musical genres, or have given up dancing entirely. Perhaps the appeal of the club lay as much in its social as its auditory atmosphere, and their interest waned as their ever-shifting social circles turned over and over. Maybe these people change identities the way other people change clothes: this month, they're goth; next month, they're gangstas. I'm thinking Raven in QC, although comic characters admittedly do not make the most reliable exemplars of actual human behavior... Or perhaps they like their lives spicy with variety, and going out to the same venue week after week grew stale.

I've never understood novelty for its own sake. I'm a creature of habit. I can more fully appreciate those things which I understand. Sensory learning is a reasonable metaphor. The first time you taste a dry martini or a very dark espresso, you're overwhelmed and almost choked by the most obvious flavors. With repeated exposure, you are able to discern the nuances layered on top of the more prominent tastes. The connoisseur experiences the same raw sensory stimuli in a completely different way than the dilettante. Although perhaps I should consider the possibility that my lack of appreciation for novelty stems from my relative lack of experience.

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