A Night In The Town Of Drops

Breaking down Dubstep from an outsiders perspective.

By Jeremy Glass

This previous May, I made the hardest decision of my life: to uproot myself from my beloved Boston and move to New York City. I had been in Boston for six years; I’d memorized every street, every train, and every restaurant that would sell me tuna melts without the accompanying stink-eye. It was my home, but it was time to move on. I packed up my stuff, said my 42’s, and set up shop with my little brother in Brooklyn – the home of Biggie Smalls, and other people are way less important and notable.

My first night, we went to a party on a rooftop – a staple in the Boston hang-out scene. There was art, free girly drinks, and females. I walked around, handed out my business card, shmoozed, and smoked. After a while of uncomfortable-white-person-at-party-shuffle-dancing, the lights shuts off and a DJ appeared. What happened next could only be described as…“an aural gang-bang.” It was dub-step.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know what dub-step is, and I know what it was before I moved to The BK, but I had only heard it in bits and pieces: listening to re-mixes on Youtube, friends playing me little portions with “sick drops”, and researching it on Encarta and America Online. This was different, thought, it wasn’t just a tidbit or a sample, this was a scene!

Like many fads and trends, dub-step originated in London. So for all us moving to the beat, spouting out, “yo, this is standard awesome!”, you should buy a time machine and visit England, because you’re going to get loads of attention from sexy Europeans. While putting my time in with Wikipedia for a little background, I found this tidbit on dubstep: “Typically, the percussion will pause, often reducing the track to silence, and then resume with more intensity, accompanied by a dominant sub-bass (often passing portamento through an entire octave or more, as in the audio example). It is very common for the bass to drop at or very close to 55 seconds into the song, due to the fact that 55 seconds is just over 32 measures at the common tempo of 140 bpm.”

In other words: WOMP WOMP WOMP WOMP WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WOMP WOMP WOMP WOMP  WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB. If you listen to this while even somewhat intoxicated, you’re going to dance. Which brings me to my main point; this has broken out of the giant speakers and hit the streets – right into the hearts of New Yorkers.

(Since my heart belongs to Boston, I can still view this with an outsider’s point-of-view)

Whenever I go to dub-step parties, I’m introduced to THE THREE LAYERS OF WOMP:

Layer One

The real dub-step kids. The passionate, committed motherfuckers who seriously enjoy the shit of this music and are there to dance. This means loose fitting pants, fluorescent bracelets & body paints, and typically weird shit written on their face. They blasted out of their mind on cheap booze and horse tranquilizers, but damn they can dance.

Layer Two

The scene dub-step kids. Women who aspire to be Lady Gaga. Men who aspire to be Lady Gaga. People there for the recognition. They host parties supporting young DJ’s, all paid for by their parents, and just feed off the energy of the crowd. They’ll have in-depth conversations, pausing to make an outlandish-yet-still-attractive face for the amateur photographer they’ve hired, and then go back to talking to you like nothing’s happened. Parties will go until 5 am, until they go back to their Brooklyn stink-pad and sleep until 5 pm the next day.

Layer Three

Basically people like me. Older, not as much hair on their heads as we’d like, shuffling on the outskirts of the crowd, commenting on how this music is sweet, but loud. Every time there’s a drop, we raise our hands in the air, look surprised, and dance as much as the alcohol lets us without feeling uncomfortable. We never know what to wear to these parties, so we end up putting on ties, only to realize that wearing ties around your neck isn’t cool anymore. So we take off our ties, put them around our head, realize it doesn’t glow under black-light, leave the club, get some Halal food, and call it a night.

 

While my view may seem somewhat cutting, snarky, and jaded, I can honestly admit that the scene is amazing. It’s like any other scene: there are cool cats, who will smoke cigarettes with you out back and talk about their lives, and there are the losers, who will try to start a fight because you eyeballed their girlfriend – jokes on him: she gives out handies in the stairwell when he isn’t looking.

If you’re having fun in the scene, it shouldn’t factor in how it works or where it originated; to quote the 1998 movie SLC Punk!: “Who cares who started it?! It’s music. I don’t know who started it, and I don’t give a shit.”

 

Jeremy Glass is a total wannabe Bukowski except with excellent hygiene. He proclaims not to be a Nigerian prince, yet he always wants $10,000. Jeremy currently lives in Brooklyn, but hates dub-step, cats, and fun. Tweet and Tumbl.


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