Xes Xes Loveseat: Dancing And The Art Of Letting Go

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Meet Faizal Nafis, a lecturer of Media Studies at Limkokwing University and disco-punk and italo DJ extraordinaire under the guise of XES XES LOVESEAT. He likes to dance and he thinks we should too! JUICE agrees, it’s definitely better than texting…

Here’s a thought: People should dance more. It’s not too late to kick-start this as our New Year resolutions. The fact of the matter is, dancefloors in KL have gotten smaller and smaller, and it’s getting harder and harder to fill them up.

Yes, when a well-known DJ comes ashore, our dancefloor is full and thriving with action. But this is pretty much the exception rather than the rule. There was a time when dancing was not only part of the programme but was the programme. Back then DJs like Jungle Jerry and Gabriel ruled the roost. But it didn’t matter who was playing or who you’d meet, people simply went out to dance. It was not an uncommon sight to see a punter spending the whole night in front of a large mirror dancing by himself. And most clubs installed many large mirrors for this purpose.

Luckily, things are truly well and kicking on the hip hop front, where the passion and penchant for dancing is clearly seen. Again, it’s our local DJs who are doing their part in making sure that people dance. My concern is with electronic music and its derivatives. Dancing and electronic music are, in a way, inseparable. It’s also called dance music for a specific reason. In fact, electronic music-which I am defining as a method for somatic expression of the body and the soul-is created for dancing.

You could argue that we should blame the lack of dancing to how clubs are set up. High-gross booths are where clubs make most of their money and understandably, more space is given to private booths. But confined spaces restrict dancing and it certainly doesn’t promote the hedonistic feeling of letting go that one gets on a big dancefloor. Furthermore, socio-culturally, heading downtown is now more of a mixed affair-a bit of snacking, a bit of drinking, a bit of gossiping and people watching, and hopefully a bit of dancing. For a time, the go-to place for a Saturday night was a bar in Changkat Bukit Bintang with a dancefloor smaller than most people’s living rooms.

Or perhaps the problem lies in the kind of dance music we listen to nowadays-one that relies less on the musical qualities that promote dancing. In place of layered, sensuous timbres is a more distorted sound and in place of a groove, you’ll find syncopated beats. If I am to describe dancing as a series of movements where speed and rhythm match harmoniously with the music, how then do we dance to dubstep? Seriously.

In vogue as well are dance forms that are exhibitionistic and, because of the high energy levels involved, are usually performed short. If you’re not familiar, search these keywords on YouTube: “Tektonic”, “Footworking” and “Jerking”. Moreover, raised on reality shows, punters are today more individualistic-another key point. Gone is the emotive and spiritual connection that one gets through dancing with others. The collective effort of getting lost dancing in a sea of people is no longer an attractive proposition.

Going out too has ceased to be perceived as a physical experience in itself; what people are more interested in-instead of the corporeal-is the hyperreal. So you’ll see people posing all night long to be Facebook-tagged or hunched over their Blackberries syncing on tiny screens rather than laying down the boogie on a large open deck. The calling used to be “I dance therefore I am,” but now it’s become “I’m tagged therefore I am.” How things have changed.

To fix this is no easy task and what’s needed, in my opinion, is a local cultural upheaval, just like what The Twist did in the 60s with its introduction to a generation of dancers, an introduction of a club that understands dancing could do the trick, or a return to the appreciation of house music or a serious disco revivalism like what’s happening in Jakarta.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for KL’s legendary clubs of yore (The Backroom and Movement) where serious grooving went on for hours up until the morning light. These clubs had huge dancing areas and were always thoroughly packed with people so completely engrossed in the music. Back then, KL was the envy of the region. We had our own Hacienda and our own Paradise Garage moments. KL will never see clubs like these again, but that doesn’t mean that the dancing should stop.

Dance, dance and dance some more with Xes Xes Loveseat at kchinggg.tumblr.com.