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Germany. A Tuesday.
“See you at one of the parties, then – maybe Zeche Carl next week?” she said as she was heading off. “I’d rather not”, I replied. “I really don’t wan’t to go there anymore.” She shrugged. “Maybe Eisenlager? Or Matrix?” – “No, definitely not. I can’t afford all the anti-depressants I would need to survive that.” With some bewilderment, she threw a “why?” at me, and I felt compelled to answer. Once more. Just this one more time. So yet again, I started explaining the right thing to the wrong people.
“For me, being part of an underground culture entails the enjoyment of greater freedoms than you get elsewhere. I have no interest in hanging out with people who don’t want me to raise my arms in a fucking hands-up-break because it’s too techno. I don’t want to argue with people about whether I happen to be in their personal dancing spot that they always use. I am fed up with that bullshit; I just want it to stop. It will die out before too long anyway, as everyone I meet in those places seems to be getting old. But If I could, I’d accelerate the process.” In order to illustrate my statement more clearly, I once again described the incident with a guy who, indeed, touched me and attempted to pull down my arm while I was dancing, and the girl at the Matrix who insisted that I was, in some way, occupying her dancing spot. “That’s never happened to me! Are you sure you didn’t do anything freakish?”, she asked me, befuddled. “I am a freak”, I replied. “Yes, you’re talking to one right now, and perhaps nothing of the sort has ever happened to you simply because you’ve been going out with the same people for years, and perhaps you’ve just never done anything freakish. You’ve joined the line. You’ve never even turned around.” My statement seemed to anger her, which, in a sense, made me happy. They were finally passionate for once. Sure, I’d prefer them to be passionate about genuine issues like right-wingers organising their festivals, but unlike me, those are no easy target. To elucidate my point just once more: When we asked people at E-tropolis Festival Oberhausen if they like to join us for an all-inclusive hotel-room afterparty with absolutely everything provided, they started rambling about friends they needed to pick up, and their plans to potentially buy some shit at McDonald’s, et cetera. Needless to say, no one showed up.
Britain. Good Friday. Three weeks earlier.
“I just did a cleansing ritual in the room over there”, he explained earnestly. His face was covered with thick traces of light rose lipstick. “Would you like to cleanse yourself, too?” – “I’m sorry, I’m behind my schedule”, I replied and asked him whether it would make sense to perform the ritual after the show. “No. There is no point. But you’ll be fine anyway.”
I found my dressing room packed with people. Among others a tall man mixing equal amounts of whisky and cola in a half-gallon plastic bottle. Another man with aviator sun glasses, evidently in an exceptional mood, greeted me with a friendly gesture of fuck you. The man with the guitars appeared to be in a state of blissful flux, staring intently at an empty corner. “I’m behind my schedule”, I repeated. The man with the sunglasses smiled. “I really like the way you put that.” He offered help. We were at home, and as a band, we had no intentions of leaving the place alive. We pulled off our last show ever, and it certainly wasn’t our best, but we did it in front of 700 freaks and felt elevated. When I asked people at 5 am about their further plans for the night, they already knew the number of my hotel room. 30 showed up right after the venue closed, with food, their friends, booze and everything else in tow. They even asked nicely before opening the fizzy wine I had put on ice. This is, basically, what continued to happen for three days and three nights.
Straftanz is dead.
I felt like a Messiah. Not your Messiah or anyone else’s, but most certainly my own. I have freed myself. I have given up my band, my bass, my booze (at least the parts I couldn’t finish myself).
I gave my friend Mark a concussion and was forgiven. I was objectified and bitten by Becca and she was forgiven. (I didn’t mind the objectification too much though, it was just damn painful and unrequested!) Everything was forgiven: our everyday lives, our habits of making people buy shit they don’t need, our jobs. Our very purpose was forgiven. The mere concept of a purpose faded into oblivion against the chaos that was unleashed as the tribe gathered for the fourth time. Resistanz still isn’t your stock industrial festival. It is way more.
We can’t go back were Straftanz came from. “Industrial” is no longer about breaking boundaries, dissolving mainstream culture or building a lifestyle outside lifestyle. Today, its main function is to provide a safe space for people in their mid-thirties or beyond. A place for them to name musical styles and brag about having been ‘in’ for longer than the ‘kids’. A place that stays the same: a cozy blanket under which they may hide from the world. And as much as I can recognise the legitimacy of this, I do not want to help provide this sort of anaesthesia: The ongoing desire for security devours freedom, causes fear and horrible sex.
I will move on and I won’t mind if you walk along. I’ll let you know where I am, every now and then. But when you stop, I shall continue my conquest of the nothing, just as Renzo Novatore did: “So turn to yourselves rather than to your Gods or to your idols. Find what hides in yourselves; bring it to light; show yourselves!”
Mai 2014. – Johannes Licht.