Revelation moments, as experienced by the dancers.
Following an overwhelmingly positive response to the first Love Letters feature we invited Stamp The Wax contributor Henry Murray to tell a story of his own. Here’s how things went down when the inimitable DJ Sprinkles visited Bristol…
“We knew she’d be good, but we didn’t think she’d be this good”
That’s what Dirtytalk’s Leigh Dennis said in response to me shouting down his ear about how profound DJ Sprinkles’ 6 and a half Hour set had been, that night in the basement of the Hell’s Angels clubhouse. It was a few hours prior to this that I had what I can only describe as an extreme emotional breakdown.
Sprinkles had started out – as one would expect – with her deeper than deep, mournful cornucopia of dance music. In retrospect, it was only here, in this place, for this extended period, that the music of DJ Sprinkles could really exist and evolve correctly. There were no other rooms of music, there was no other headliner, and there were no first year university students who happened to fall through the door. It was just the extremely warm, civilized, patient 200 or so people that were lucky enough to get tickets, intently focused on the music being played by Terre Thaemlitz.
Our heads were down, the sound system was tuned to perfection, it was soon apparent we had walked in to “the best thing”.
With 6 hours, you can imagine that the music came and went in movements. We were brought in with the slow, dark, dystopian, Sprinkles cuts like ‘Lost Area’, ‘Companion’, ‘You Can Always Leave’ etc. and as the “peak” time drew nearer, the emotions began to change. As if to guide us through all the possibilities of our emotional capacities, Thaemlitz touched on dark and light, slowly moving up towards a sort of “sad hope”.
There was a collective realisation that we were suddenly inside of one of the more beautiful, major key tracks in the set, but what was it? Through the blur of the intensely loud soundsystem and Terre’s augmentation of filter delay, identification proved difficult. But there was something recognisable in the music. An acappella joyously scatting.
Oh my god, it’s the fucking whistle song.
But a different version? “IT’S THE WHISTLE SONG!” I shouted to people around me (half to them, half to myself) that it was Frankie Knuckles; she was playing different renditions of the whistle song that she had edited together. That was what we had been listening to for so long. It had to have been 20 minutes at this point. I screamed out in joy, over and over again, hoping someone would hear, but it was ultimately to myself. I kept screaming in a sad sort of relief, “it’s Frankie Knuckles… I can’t believe it’s Frankie Knuckles…. come ON….”, as if I couldn’t believe how fucking relevant and appropriate it was for her to be doing this. And how far we had been removed from the likes of “Companion” only moving 8 or so bpm upwards, but moving so desperately away in terms of colour and emotion.
It was so melancholic; I kept shouting, “come on” over and over. I put my hands to my eyes, still screaming, totally overwhelmed by the relevance and the context. The words had turned into pure shouting, several minutes of this had passed before I realised I was violently shedding tears. I was just screaming and crying. In a weird dualist state, I let myself carry on in this extreme trance until I was back with my head down against the speaker cabinet.
Thaemlitz is an unwavering nihilist, and so, for someone like her, with all her beliefs and polemic sewn within her productions, it was all the more poignant that she touched on such a gentle, beautiful remembrance of Frankie Knuckles, with a track that uses such melody. I think it was this overall that really got me so deeply.
And it was there, in that place, for those 6 and a half hours, we listened to Terre say so much, even though she never said a word.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to share your own firsthand account. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch!
Photo credit: Sam Wild