Isnít it absurd? The Mod scene is getting smaller and smaller, and at the same time the number of weekenders and allnighters constantly increases and there are even more scensters planning yet another weekend somewhere in Europe. Over the last few years those weekenders that have been my favourites for a long time have been suffering from the decrease of Mods attending these events. And whatís the reaction to this problem?
Make it bigger Ė to make more people interested in the scene and possibly join it. Sounds nice, but does it work? Possibly in Spain, maybe in London. It doesnít seem to work in Central Europe, though. Seems like most people today prefer to enjoy whatever comes their way without wanting to commit themselves for a longer period, as commitment to them means limitation. As Modernism is very much about commitment itís clear that we canít count on those people to bring new life to our scene. Theyíll be there for some time, maybe even dress a bit like Mods, but sooner or later theyíll go another way, find their kicks somewhere else. What has the Mod scene to offer them after the first cheap, easy thrills? Isnít that thrill the thrill of a tourist being in a new holiday resort for the very first time?
The thing is: as a tourist you know youíll leave after a fortnight or so, youíre not supposed to live there for a few years. And the next year youíll spend your holidays somewhere else, of course. Why go to the same old resort again? Youíve been there anyway. Yes, some people may stay on the scene. And yes, this is a valid argument when it comes to the question whether a mod eventís door policy should be rather strict or rather liberal. Thereís always a chance that some people might feel so much attracted that theyíll at last commit themselves. And yes, this is, why I would never denounce the idea of those really big events open for any kind of person interested in it. After all, weíd organized Beat-O-Mania in the 9Ts, which was very much about this idea.
So what about this tendency of organising more and more Mod events? Personally Iím glad Iím no longer involved in that kind of enterprise. In the end being the organiser always means problems, trouble and the uneasy feeling that you might end up being flat broke afterwards. But thatís beside the point. Anyone organising whatever it is, is (or should be) aware of the financial risks involved. But isnít it a simple calculation?
1000 people - 10 events per year
as compared to
800 people - 20 events per year
How is that supposed to work?
And yes, when you never try something new you might risk missing the party of your lives, and of course, all the big events started some time and were not that successful at first, but as the organisers persevered the events became established and successful. Still, when you want to start a new weekender, it should offer something unique, e.g. more bands from far-away places, a compelling DJ line-up, a boat-cruise, a swimming-pool party, a headliner everyoneís always wanted to see. If you just organise another plain, standard weekend, hardly anyone from abroad will bother to even considering coming, and even most people in your own country will let you down for the sake of their local party happening to take place at exactly that same weekend. Frankly speaking: why should you travel to a minor event knowing quite well that you can listen to the same music in your hometown every weekend in one or another club? Why should you travel there in times like these, when more and more people barely make ends meet? This is another easy calculation:
your wages 1998: € xxx -> 10 events
your wages 2007: € xxx-200 -> 20 events
How is that supposed to work?
So is there another solution to the problem, apart from making it big?
Yes, there is one: specialisation.
Separate the dancefloors. Set up a black dancefloor for anything from Jazz and R&B, via Soul to Ska and hope to attract many more people who like that sort of music, but hate anything that sounds white. And set up a strictly white dancefloor embracing Beat, Freakbeat, Psych, Prog and Funk-Rock (Iím still waiting for a Mod DJ to play an early Motherís Finest 45 Ö thatíll definitely be my point of retirement) for all those who just hate that ďlousy disco musicĒ. More and more events resort to that means and in my humble opinion this is the most absurd trend that can be witnessed on the scene these days.
Isnít Mod about picking out the truffles from a vast pool of yet undiscovered, unknown gems from the sixties, no matter if itís black or white? Isnít it about expanding oneís horizon, not about narrowing it? Over the last few years Iíve had the funny feeling that more and more people voluntarily limit their scope. Of course, looking back I remember that in the Mid-8ts I enjoyed US garage most and shunned Soul. Later on I discovered the beauty and elegance of Soul. Around 1997 I enjoyed Freakbeat very much, these days I dig Ska and R&B. Still, it has never meant that I exclusively like one or the other style. My musical appetite is far too big to be satisfied at a Mod weekender. I love all those styles of Mod music, but even much more thatís definitely not Mod music. And I enjoy myself best when thereís variation on the dance floor. A bit of this, a bit of that, and when I donít feel in the mood to listen to this or that style itís a good chance to go to the bar and have a chat.
But when you separate the rooms you separate the scene. In a way this reminds me of HG Wellsí idea of the future world as expressed in ďTime MachineĒ Ė when you separate a group of people having lived in the same habitat they will end up being complete aliens to each other Ė itís just a matter of time. And whatís the lesson we teach those who attend a Mod do for the first time? What we show them is the following: there is not one scene, there are two scenes and each group doesnít appreciate the other one very much. And you have to decide which side you are on.
This is the end of everything Iíve always found essential and worthwhile about the scene. To me it has never been narrow-minded and intolerant, quite the opposite. But by separating the scene at an event where it should be ďin oneĒ, together, not separated, you generate more intolerance, you breed more narrow-mindedness, you foster the death of a scene that has been precious and meaningful to me since my teen days.
Please understand that Iím just trying to throw in my five cents here, Iím not pointing my fingers at anyone on a moral level, Iím not trying to judge others. Iím just trying to express my fear and anxiety concerning a scene that as a whole is very important to me and which I would hate to have to watch decay. Itís just a (slightly provocative) attempt to start a discussion without generating bad feelings about anyone on the scene. I think our scene is grown-up enough to sensibly discuss controversial issues without generating bad feelings.