Everyone knows that Robyn song, right? “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her,” she sings, lamenting in the shadows of a club while she dances on her own in spite of her sadness. In the wake of those very unprecedented times everyone seems to be talking about, what I would do to stand in a corner like that, feeling the sweat of others press up against me, listening to bass that might give me permanent hearing damage.
There is nothing quite like live music, seeing someone bear their soul to a room of people they don’t know. I am a terrible dancer, but what I would give to trip on my own feet again.
I know that whenever “this all ends,” as we keep saying, I will find myself walking those beer-soaked floors again, wishing I had left my jacket at home in the steam of general admission. Most of last year was a blur, as I would expect it was for most people in the world. The anticipation of an uncertain future is backbreaking mental labor, a hamster wheel of thoughts that does not leave room for imagination or true joy without reserve.
As the new year has come into focus, I have tried my best to find that joy again, even without the familiar dirt of live music in the wonderful venues we’re so lucky to have in Ann Arbor. And with that, I have found solace in an unlikely place: foreign club music.
One of the best parts of live shows and attending clubs is the ability to lose yourself completely in the music, to stop listening closely and let the people around you blur into an indistinguishable mass. It’s hard to achieve the same thing at home all bundled in your finest sweats, but I’ve found that listening to dance music in languages I do not understand seems to mimic the experience. Yeah, I’m dancing poorly and in my room, but I’m having a hell of a time.
From the French stylings of Aya Nakamura and Make the Girl Dance to Indochine to Sebastien Teller and everything in between, I feel like I’ve plunged into a club in the heart of Paris. With artists like the Ukrainian Alyona Alyona and Russian IC3PEAK, I feel like I’m thrashing around in an underground rave in Kiev.
With Peggy Gou, Seoul and with Prometh, Warsaw. I have even taken to replaying sets from the iconic Berlin Boiler Room on YouTube to imagine what it would be like in the birthplace of techno (though Detroit is the American birthplace, of course). Not even in my dancing dreams can I get into Berghain, the elusive Berlin club that even birthed an online game to practice the bouncer’s questions, but I will probably get there eventually.
It all started when I discovered this article in The New York Times about the new face of European pop music, and I was immediately hooked on the majority of the artists mentioned. There’s something so comforting about dancing without knowing what you’re dancing to, embracing the unknown with a sense of joy and acceptance.
In this time of so many uncertainties, at least we can be certain that dancing is still a good time — even if no one is watching.
Daily Arts Writer Clara Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.