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Dedicated Followers of Fashion

2008-01-23 16:00
Why the confusion? Well, let’s start with the bands. kidofdoom play instrumental prog-rock on an indie tip: a little bit Explosions in the Sky and a little bit more Pink Floyd. Johnny Neon deliver an updated take of 80s synth-pop infused with touches of glitchy electronica. Five Men Three Missing offers sets of mind-blowing, experimental, electro-acoustic soundscapes. The only discernable similarity between these acts is how different they all are. They also have little in common musically with imports like !!!, The Rapture, Hot Chip, Justice and Simian Mobile Disco. Weird because these are precisely the kind of acts you’ll end up dancing to when the bands finish and the DJ sets get started. While the scene is most often labeled ‘dance punk’, the only one of its acts who seems to snugly fit this bill is Desmond and the Tutus.

If you’re confused it’s okay. So was I. And then it dawned on me. It’s all about the skinny jeans. kidofdoom and Desmond and the Tutus may have very different musical influences, but they have decidedly similar pants. Ditto their fans. Case closed? Welll....come on, surely there has to be something other than a penchant for fashionably tight fitting pants linking the disparate threads of the Joburg dance punk scene together?

Unfortunately, as much as I would like to neatly answer this question, most of my time spent at the Sovereign Academy jols involves imbibing too much alcohol to provide any clarity on the matter. Which is why I called up Ben Rausch, one of the company’s founders and its main driving force. He’s also one of its best DJs (Sassquatch) and one half of Johnny Neon.
So why dance punk? “When I’m promoting an event I’ll call it dance punk because I need to call it something, but I do understand that not all the music at our parties fits this bill” says Sassquatch. “It’s not a bad thing if people notice this. Local crowds aren’t discerning enough so it is important for party people to start realising the difference between genres and styles. The most recognisable thread running through the music at our parties is a mix of indie, new wave, electro and punk, and overseas this kind of scene, started by labels such as DFA became known as the dance punk scene. But I’m not about to leave kidofdoom of the bill because their stuff isn’t strictly dance punk.

“I really like Kidofdoom’s enthusiasm and how they seem so involved and invested in playing live. Their energy fits into our parties perfectly even if their music doesn’t sound like The Rapture, for example, or Desmond and the Tutus. Good rock and roll never limits itself or defines itself narrowly. And I’m glad that within the scene there are so many different sounds. It would become boring otherwise”.

Agreed. I’m not sure if I’m that interested in dissecting whether or not dance punk is an adequate name for a scene which many young, arty Joburgers are extremely grateful for. In the City of Gold you can’t enter most of the nightlife venues unless your shoes are smart, black and shiny and your shirt has a collar. The Sovereign Academy parties, with their diverse line-ups, interesting live remixes, DJ mash-ups, VJ visuals and dress up themes inject some much needed neon colour into the cultural mix up here in Babylon. Regardless of whether it’s dubbed dance punk, nu rave or indie-disco, Sovereign throws a good party. And until they start bouncing people at the door if their pants are too baggy, that’s good enough for me.

Eye Candy
- Desmond & the Tutus interview.
- kidofdoom live .
- kidofdoom interview.

- Daniel Friedman

In New York it’s called mutant disco. In London they label it nu rave. Here in Joburg it’s billed as dance punk. What are we talking about? A scene started at the now legendary Secret parties that was later popularised by Sovereign Academy. An independent group of promoters, Sovereign host events where indie bands like Desmond and the Tutus and kidofdoom and DJs such as King of Town, Sassquatch and Data Takashi entertain a mix of young creatives, media types and students with an intriguing, if c
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