News, The Moving Blog

Everyone Loves A Kick Drum

Over the past few weeks the Modern Moves team has been busy percolating dance floors and drum circles in various scenes all over London. We worked the dance floor at NUMBI: A Night of Afro-Futurism, where Ananya, Elina and me competed for best dance moves. We were completely covered in sweat by the end of the night. It’s funny because when we got to the venue nobody was dancing — the center of the room was empty. Obviously as dance fanatics we felt that being in a party full of good music and good company where nobody was dancing would simply not do.

As usual we took it to ourselves to get the party started. Anything for research!

A few days later, over in Hoxton, we went to AfroKarib, a day-long festival of Haitian music, food, dance, and drink, where the drum circles were even more beautiful and intense. It was a little slice of Haiti in East London.

For my part I’ve been going to a lot of techno-oriented parties, primarily in Dalston, Elephant & Castle, Shoreditch and King’s Cross. One thing that strikes me as a fascinating linkage between the worlds of machine created drum beats, like those typically found on techno and house dance floors, and the more real-time drumming like we’ve experienced in drum circles, is how in both scenes, people love being close to the source of the beat, whether it is mechanical or human.

In a drum circle you use the body to dance in a call-and-response to the beats a drummer is offering. There’s an intricate synergy between the dancer and the drummer — the heavier the beats, the more we are entranced.

What I’ve noticed on the techno and house floor is that people love to stand right in front of the subwoofer, or next to a speaker tower, such that they are so close to the sound source it’s like they’re trying to climb in. They’re possessed by the beat, the repetitious sound of the kick drum producing in them feelings of euphoria and ecstasy.

Drum circles, kick drums, sound systems.

Marry this with the fact that techno and house music are so beat focused that when a sound system is good — really good — the bass isn’t tonal as much as it is a feeling. You feel deep bass inside of you and it adds an invisible thickness or weight to the dance floor.

The connection between afro diasporic drum circles, sound systems, and the way bass and drums impact our bodies on the dance floor is one topic I am really curious to unpack even more as a way to understand why everyone loves a drop.