One of the world's most respected DJs, Paul Van Dyk has topped nearly every poll and won nearly every award pertinent to the art of spinning records. Within the last few years, the esteemed trance and progressive-house artist has earned Best International DJ honors from the London Music Awards and Ministry magazine and landed the No. 4 spot on DJ magazine's readers' poll for the top 100 DJs. But surprisingly, Van Dyk had never made a proper DJ-mix collection until recently. Even so, The Politics of Dancing, which was released on the Ministry of Sound label in October 2001, is more of a hybrid artist album and mix CD than the standard collection of floor-filling tunes.
“DJing is an interaction with the audience,” says Van Dyk, who has earned equal acclaim and accolades for his expert productions and remixes. Instead of just imitating one of his dramatic DJ sets in the studio, Van Dyk treated the CD's creation process like one of his productions. “This is s not a DJ-mix CD in the common sense. Everything that's on there is remixed, remodeled, and reworked big time. The whole album is sequenced and produced. You won't find the same versions of these songs on the original releases or records themselves.”
Van Dyk works in a home studio built to his specifications, relying primarily on Pro Tools and Logic Audio for all his producing needs. “The studio is geographically designed,” he explains. “Everything is where it should be, where I can reach it by scooting back and forth in a swivel chair. Basically, I can play into Pro Tools, I can play through Pro Tools, and I can play out through Pro Tools — everything back and forth in just the way that I want it to. I have a digital Mackie D8B desk on a double extension with 144 channels. All the slots are filled with effects cards. I just got the new Acuma Labs Filter Machine plug-in, which is absolutely amazing. You can filter the shit out of things with it.”
Van Dyk titled the album The Politics of Dancing not as a tribute to '80s one-hit wonders Re-Flex but as a nod to the current state of the dance-music scene. “Dance culture and youth culture are incredibly powerful,” he says. “It transcends cultural barriers. I can go to Japan, for example, and DJ in front of 5,000 people, and they go completely nuts. They understand it even though they have a completely different cultural background and language.”
With authorities all over the world cracking down on dance-music events and clubs, Van Dyk feels that dance culture needs to unite into an informative and positive course of action. “We have to educate the authorities of our politics, especially considering the aftermath of the events of September 11,” he says. “Dancing is part of our politics. Dancing promotes a greater understanding of nations and cultures and is far more effective than bombing a country. There should be more politics in dancing again. We've forgotten to bring across to the authorities that this is youth culture. It's not just about nightlife. It doesn't just belong in clubs anymore. There's much more to electronic music. Closing clubs like Twilo doesn't just take away the possibility of kids going out, it removes their involvement in a global youth culture.”
Van Dyk feels that the only way to change this is on an individual level: “Each individual, each promoter, each writer, each magazine has to do it their own way. We have to show concern about the cultural issues surrounding dance music, not just which track is best for a night out. No wonder the authorities think that this culture is all about drug abuse. We've forgotten to tell them the other reasons behind dance music. And that's the politics of dancing.”