Why are masks so popular in dance music?
“All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks, in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.” FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Beyond Good and Evil
When DJs step up onstage they’re ready to give a performance. They’re prepared to become someone else, put on a different face to present to the world. Not for nothing are selectors on a line-up referred to as acts. And the bigger the stage, the more important the booth, the more theatrical the act becomes.
In any given situation, the DJ is the talisman, the musical shaman, the instigator of the communal groove. While not exactly a clown, a jester or a fool, up there in the booth a DJ has the license to mess about and act as a focal point for the crowd – if they’re that way inclined.
For some, it’s almost like they adopt an alternate persona when they climb onstage. Bob Sinclar, for instance, manifests as an international playboy, while Fatboy Slim is Norman Cook’s extrovert persona, when in reality he’s modest and self-effacing offstage. Other DJs are pretty much the same onstage or off, while for a select few wearing a mask helps them transform from ‘normal’ music lover to charismatic party-starter. More and more these days, it seems that if you want to get ahead, get a mask.
We all wear masks metaphorically in everyday life but in the sphere of dance music those masks have become literal. And not only have masks – in a wide array of weird and wonderful shapes – become a regular feature on the dance circuit, they’ve infiltrated every area of electronica. Stadium megastars wear them, leftfield weirdos don them, techno freakazoids conceal their true identity behind them. It’s a phenomenon evident in the commercial world of EDM and in the deepest depths of the underground. Not only is the act of assuming another identity behind a mask at its zenith right now, it’s becoming de rigueur. The done thing. Ever more popular……(CONTINUED)