Last year I went to see Jackmaster at Taste The Punch, a party hosted periodically at Luton’s Carnival Arts. Near the end of his set he played Ludacris's "What’s Your Fantasy." Received with gratitude by me and my friends, taken back to days sneaking into nightclubs with terrible ID when shit mixers were still £5 for 3, I noticed a bemused bunch of younger ravers behind us. Looking from one to another they shook their heads and screwed up their faces, appalled to be hearing something they couldn’t film on Snapchat to later post in the Identification of Music Group for an "ID on this banger, troops!"
I’ve found myself in similar situations and heard stories time and time again since that moment - various DJs playing songs spanning the last however many years of electronic genres to confused, young, designer-clad ravers. My friend Connor recently played the absolute blinder 90's number that is 'Two Times' by Ann Lee, with a woman on the dancefloor approaching the booth and threatening to punch him in the face if he didn't turn it off (I think she actually meant to say turn it UP). I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen people look to each other bewildered complaining “This isn’t tech house” or “Why aren’t they playing *insert most popular song which is now a few years old and probably is maybe slightly overplayed all be it amazing*?” This is echoed elsewhere on the internet, with many actually going so far as to question the DJ's integrity and ask “are they taking the piss out of us?” The answer is no (see below Essential Mix for reference).
Arguably the attitudes towards slightly left field selections has something to do with the development of the scene over the last few years. With more DJs fronting eclectic selection styles moving into the spotlight, and the tech house scene growing into something of a dynasty, the lines between the genres are being crossed and it’s becoming about an image as opposed to a shared love of music. But this isn’t the main issue.
Music is forever moving forwards and evolving, but staying true to your roots is essential. Almost all DJs, producers or even general music heads will tell you that their inspiration is drawn from earlier years of gaining and embracing vast musical knowledge. Often spanning across genres and decades, we collect music that has the ability to make us feel good, inspire us, and mean enough to us that we want to share it. When a house DJ plays a bassline song in their set, it’s not to take the piss out of you. It’s a song that they consider great enough to share with a room of people who respect their art.
DJs work tirelessly to dig for music, new and old, to share with fans they appreciate and know they have a duty to provide for. Sets are journeys and showcases, of emotions and moments that are carefully selected for the pleasure of the dancefloor. Track selections are taken from memories and parts of their life and made into a performance for everybody watching. It’s important to remember that although this experience is part of your journey, the DJ is sharing part of theirs - and for an hour or two it's a journey you're on together.