• Zouk Bass: a musical primer with DJ Umb of Generation Bass

    What exactly is "Zouk Bass"?

    It's a sound, the roots of which derive from Africa and the Caribbean, and which has been updated with modern Electronic Club/Bass sounds (which sounds nothing much like traditional "Zouk", really.)

    Where and when did this genre originate?

    I'm not even sure whether it is a fully-fledged "genre" yet, maybe it is a sub-genre or just a new name for a scene. Buraka Som Sistema coined the term during a Boiler Room DJ set in February 2013, so it's barely 6 months old. They were playing some awesome tunes that many of us had not heard before and their MC, Kalaf, was shouting "Zouk Bass" all over them and saying it was "a brand new sound". That's how it started, and a lot of people in the Transnational Bass scene were going nuts about this sound. There was no track list for the set and people were desperate for the track ID's for the first 15-20 minutes because the sound was dope and fresh! Eventually, some of the tracks and artists were discovered from comments left on the Boiler Room site. It was also discovered that some of the featured tracks already had a name for a pre-existing genre that pre-dated Zouk Bass. It was called Tarraxinha or Tarraxo and came from Angola. (more…)

  • Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style

    Mention the word "voguing" to people, and generally their first reaction will be "strike a pose, there's nothing to it". A dance fad made popular by Madonna in the early Nineties but invented in the New York City gay underground years before, voguing faded into obscurity as quickly as it popped into the mainstream. It's good for nostalgic giggles, though: we've all seen that clip of "Vogue Boy" voguing in a shopping mall. But what if I were to tell you—like a big, gay Morpheus—that vogue was not a short-lived fad? Voguing is now part of a complex, diverse, fully-formed and constantly evolving underground culture called ballroom.

    To be clear, "ballroom" takes it name from the venues in which the "ball" events take place, and is not to be confused with the "strictly" kind of ballroom. Like hip hop, ballroom encompasses many different elements of artistic expression, from music and language to clothes and design, and, of course, dance. It deals directly with some of society's most controversial issues, namely sexuality, race, class, gender roles and expression, beauty modes, self-definition and competition. It doesn't do this in the polemical style we may be used to from punk and political hip-hop, however, where topics are theorised and discussed. In ballroom these issues are lived and experienced, as a vast number of those taking part in this underground scene are transgender, working class, people of colour.