Dance music is my passion and my obsession. For the past seven months it’s also been my profession.
I’ve worn a few different hats in my career: fan, blogger, journalist, promoter. I’ve attended hundreds of shows across three different continents. I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen as much as I can.
As I’ve grown older and more experienced, I’ve become more particular about the music I surround myself with. I need music that transmits constant rhythm, or profound emotion, or both.
And while I’m certainly not the world’s biggest Armin van Buuren fan, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be here today without him.
The first time I saw Armin perform, at the Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010, I was mesmerized.
I’ll freely admit that the memories of the music he played that day have faded But the impact of his performance remains indelible. I’ve never seen any human being — DJ, musician, actor, politician — communicate so powerfully to so many people.
Armin closed the festival’s main stage that night. The artists preceding him had been blistering and propulsive (Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Benny Benassi), and even spiritually, emotionally, heart-stoppingly poignant (Above & Beyond).
But Armin was something more. He was euphoria personified.
I remember the radiant smile, the outstretched arms, the feeling that I was floating. Somehow, Armin lifted me, and 40,000 others.
I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to compare Armin to Paul McCartney, Ralph Fiennes, or Barack Obama. The connection between the four is my own. I’ve lumping them together because, at different times in my life, I’ve witnessed each of them express himself in person — McCartney musically, Fiennes theatrically, Obama politically. I feel that they’re all singularly charismatic individuals.
None of them communicate as effectively and as powerfully as Armin van Buuren. Armin’s message is simple: you belong here. You deserve to be here, to be goofily, giddily happy. This, this state of blissful, euphoric trance, is for everyone.
On March 16th, Armin brought ASOT to India for the first time. Everyone at Submerge and Percept Live worked very hard to make it happen. We obtained the permissions, built the stage, found the sponsors, sold the tickets, promoted the show online and on ground. It wasn’t perfect, but we gave it all we humanly could.
And while we as organizers put everything we had into the show, it’s the fans that created the magic. Every handpainted sign, every custom t-shirt, every ASOT and Indian flag made a difference. Every hand in the air, every camera flash and iPhone video, every tweet and Facebook post contributed to the excitement and the experience.
It felt like history, a watershed moment. Sure, Above & Beyond’s TATW show in Bangalore was more sentimental, more touchingly intimate. SHM’s One Last Tour was more thunderously, massively huge.
But to me, ASOT 600 was special because we — the entire electronic music community — did this. I don’t really know how else to put it. Every person who attended ASOT 600 invested a little bit of themselves into the event. And it showed
There were plenty of first-timers there, plenty of people attending their first electronic music event. We showed them that they belonged here. That this scene is for everyone.
I love dance music because every loop, every synth, and every beat gives me a way to be a little more outgoing, a little more open, a little more energetic. It allows me to be a more positive, lighthearted version of myself. At ASOT, Armin made 9,000 people feel this way — the first time it’s happened for so many people on Indian soil.
So where do we go from here? I have no idea. I’m not sure what the implications of this show will be, whether this music will ever reach people who can’t afford to pay the equivalent of $57 for a ticket.
I’m not sure what the broader social implications of 9,000 people dancing together on a hot March evening will be.
But the fact that this is happening in India, finally, shows how far we’ve come.