The following is an attempt to shed some light on the issue of the Roskilde Festival's decision to shut down its DeeDay tent, which has presented all sorts of electronic music to thousands of people throughout almost a decade. Below, you'll find background information about the decision, a few suggestions to what could be done instead, and finally contact details to the festival. We hope the information provided will give you inspiration and motivation to help us convince the festival's management that techno is as important as any other style of music.
Please avoid sending your suggestions or comments to us, but direct them to the Roskilde Festival. Also, childish behaviour such as flaming or mail bombing the festival's email box does not help anyone. Be serious, polite and constructive. Thanks.
Just before the start of Roskilde Festival '98, the festival's management announced that 1998 would be the final year for the DeeDay tent. Shortly after, a Danish newspaper printed a small article that read:
"The DeeDay tent, which was opened up nine years ago to give electronic music a scene of its own, had its last season this year. Because of the evolution of this cross-over genre, the tent has ceased to have a point, and techno would benefit from being mixed together with the festival's other styles of music. Similarly, when the Ballroom tent recently showed the same symptoms of being alienated, the popular salsa was spread out on the other stages."Apparently, the festival hasn't released any information regarding this issue in any of their news letters, but directly asked about it, a festival official replied: "the DeeDay tent as we've known it is likely to be altered. The issue is currently being discussed, so any observation from you would be most welcome - preferably as quickly as possible."
Thus, the future of techno on the festival is uncertain. Although electronic music still is likely to be heard on future festivals, one fears that it will be spread out on the regular stages, which all lack DeeDay's superb light installations, sound system and dance floor (detailed info is available). The regular tents are build simply for people to stare at a central stage, whereas the DeeDay tent surrounds its audience by light, sound and decorations. Also, spreading techno all over the festival area could mean that we would have to march from one end of the area to another, which is an activity that without a doubt would be extremely time consuming and annoying.
Observations and suggestions
Here in the late 1990's, it is a well-known fact that electronic music has found its way into most other kinds of music. Rock bands hire techno dj's to warm up their audience, drum'n'bass beats provide the soundtrack to commercials, and even grumpy old reviewers recognize the fact that techno has been a source of inspiration for numerous bands. In that respect, we can understand that a festival management feels it's time for the music to become equal to the rest of the music by being mixed together with it, but the problem is of course that techno simply doesn't work as a 90-minuttes act on some huge stage. Continuity, intimacy and vibe are factors that are exactly as important as the actual music, and you cannot obtain these things in a half-filled tent left over by a bunch of ex-grungers. It doesn't work that way.
Techno demands time. Unlike the average concert experience, a techno event is all about having time to let yourself dive into the beats, time to let the dj or act build a flow of tunes that feels like just one long tune, time to be able to step off of the dance floor, chill out and eat fruit before you return again, and time to enjoy the crowd, decorations and light effects.
So, unless you designate a special stage to techno only, you get something that has very little to do with what one must assume is the whole point of having techno at a festival: to show off the culture on its own terms. As far as we are concerned, that's the least the festival can do. We somehow doubt that it would ask, say, the Rolling Stones to play for five minutes, but that's exactly what it could end up asking the world's most talented people within electronica to do.
Furthermore, by allowing the culture to express itself, the festival also gives people who might not be familiar with techno a chance to see and experience what it's all about. After all, it's easier to drop by a tent that happens to be there than it is to join a real rave at venues most people haven't even heard about.
If the festival management really wants to renew the DeeDay tent, it better start expanding it rather than killing it slowly. New features that would be welcome could be a new tent and area which should provide true chill-out facilities: ambient dj's and acts, live video artists, special food and beverages, flea markets, shops, and the whole place should of course be beautifully decorated by skilled artists. Despite being an ambient scene, the music has to be loud (don't repeat the mistake from 1994, please), and it should be located both near the DeeDay tent, but also remote enough to avoid a constant flow of people buzzing back and forth from other stages. In fact, both tents may well be moved away from the rest of the festival's tents to emphasize that techno is different from rock.
The original DeeDay tent should continue presenting top-class artists, but even sharper musical profiles during the days might be worth a thought. For example, a day (or half a day or whatever) could be designated to a distinct style of electronic music: minimal techno, drum'n'bass, house, trance and goa are just a few examples. We realize it's a matter of the local authorities, but an expanded schedule would be very welcome anyhow. Time becomes a loop, and a 24 hours a day program for this part of the festival wouldn't be bad at all, although less would be nice too.
To sum it up, please don't exclude a culture that is both innovative, peaceful and serious from the Roskilde Festival. No matter whether the management likes it or not, electronica is here to stay, and it has exactly the same right to be represented as rock, hip hop or reggae have.
Contacting the festival
Now it's your turn: if you feel the signals coming out of the festival are worrying, contact them as soon as possible and tell them what you feel should be done. As stated above, they're requesting feedback, so if we do a good job, we might be able to make them change their minds.
|Techno in Copenhagen