Two weeks ago, I talked about the idea of the “Urban Tribe” and what that could (or could not) mean for our culture and generation. This week, however, I want to examine what I feel is one of the more negative turns of this phenomenon: the proliferation of the “scene.” While this label is entirely generic and doesn’t actually reference any one “scene” in particular (Wikipedia defines at least 80), I use it in this situation to refer to an experience – not necessarily a lifestyle.
As subculture participation becomes one of the new defining traits of our generation, it then follows that a different cultural framework needs to be constructed in order to designate what, exactly, it means to be included in this social grouping. In other, more-dated words: how we classify “cool.”
Although there are the obvious indicators (clothing, music, collective ideology, etc.) of what constitutes any scene, I think one of the more fascinating and amusing (and perhaps one of the least desirable) trends is a certain mentality that seems to dominate – and at times threaten to overwhelm – the emerging music scene in Minneapolis. What I’m talking about is lately it’s been less about the music and more about being seen. What I’m talking about is how the desire to be one of the tragically hip is threatening the authenticity of the movement as a whole. What I’m talking about is our own Too Much Love.
I have nothing against Too Much Love in theory; in many ways I’m proud to live in a city that, while not cutting edge, is certainly cultivating a status similar to bigger cities that are forward-looking. Yet, Too Much Love, whether intended to or not, has become more than a weekly dance night or even a forum in which to gather and appreciate the music in its most enjoyable form: With other like-minded individuals. No, it has become a place be seen and maybe dance – if the cool kids are. However, it’s rarely just about the remixes. While that can be fun for a while, my question is this: Are we risking sublimation of our identities in order to conform to a movement whose sole purpose is to judge us when we don’t?
Believe me, I get the draw. Human nature craves that which validates us, be it another person who shares the same interests or a mass group of people who share the same ideas. We all want to belong, whether that means being part of the “accepted” mainstream or the more subversive underground. I also understand that at times, identification, whether visible or ideological, is necessary in order to show affiliation and support with or for a group. Yet, as I’m wondering in the case of Too Much Love, does that allegiance really need to spring from all things egoist and masturbatory?
I realize that my saying this is going to change little, if anything, about the scene at Too Much Love. After all, “it is what it is” and most of us who attend this night accept that, whether or not we admit it to ourselves.
Kat Hargreaves welcomes comments at [email protected]