Is Melbourne The New Home Of House…?
In the mid 90’s the Melbourne dance scene was named as one of the places to party, with a highly irrigated and lush landscape of fashion and music culture. Laurent Garnier proclaimed it his “favourite place to play” and Carl Cox took up residence. Then the arid winds of electro house blew into the city and ruled like a tyrannical dictator – oppressed by synthetic noises of cheap European Electro off-cuts, the club scene descended into an insipid malaise that would last a decade. The creative vibrancy that saw promoters combine the gay and straight scenes with Studio 54-esque flamboyance dried up, stunts like parading an elephant through a nightclub were replaced by a risk adverse climate that would see dance floors awash with tandoori tans, muscle men and floods of hair gel. But change is in the air – the boomerang of fate has retuned the city’s frequency to cool again, stamping Melbourne back on the map as one of the world’s hottest locations for deep house. Here’s how:
Melbourne is famed for its lane way bars – hundreds of secret gems hidden in its nooks and crannies provide ample watering holes for a thirsty city. Surprisingly, for a population of nearly 5 million, it doesn’t boast a super club, rather preferring the bar and micro-clubbing environment. New venues pop and drop weekly, creating a wildly transient scene – the spotlight ever shifting to the new flavour of the day. For venue owners is a risky game, but for punters it provides a delightful revolving door of entertainment – you could literally hit a different bar/club every weekend of the year. Such variety has gradually spawned the DIY culture of party promoters, which, aided by healthy community radio channels, has made Melbourne a hotbed of eclecticism. The airwaves are buzzing with anything from Bryan Ferry to dub reggae, but the craze of the day is deep house. By virtue of its aural accessibility, it sits well on the dance floor and bar lounge – perfect for the land where both worlds collide.
Mebournian’s often boast that their city is the most cultural in Australia – although this is like them bragging about the Soccaroo’s best result at the World Cup, there is a relative truth in it. It certainly is the epicentre of hipsterism, with more beards and pedestrian tattoos than a ZZ Top annual convention. The meteoric sway in Australia's youth profile has swung from one stereotype to the other – from the bilious mulleted beer brat to the moustached softly spoken ale connoisseur. And with this evolution a wiser raver has bloomed, more akin to the nuisances of deep house than air-guitar electro pop. Spearheading this high waist banded revolution is Tornado Wallace – a local lad, amply bearded and amply talented. He creates hypnotic psychedelic deep house which has brought plaudits from far and a wide.
Immigration into modern Australia has gone from a voyage for condemned petty criminals to the tightly controlled velvet rope of utopia (ref Border Security on lesser quality satellite channels). The economic affluence, weather and mixing pot of a modern amenities makes it a highly desired destination from all angles. Over the past decade the dance music scene has seen an influx of high profile artists set up shop in these greener pastures: Carl Cox, Eric Powell, Mark Pritchard and Coteen, to name a few EDM emigrates. This steady flow of relocation has opened avenues for local artists and widened the roster of international dj’s/acts attracted to Australia, with Melbourne usually being the beeline.
Having shoved off the shackles of electro and undergone an extreme makeover, Melbourne now pumps an undercurrent of coolness throughout Australia. Deep house’s second coming has diffused throughout the world, but found its spiritual home down under.