We’re dating ourselves a little, here, but for the sake of all you young ones who may have missed some of the golden days of Cairo’s rave scene, we explore - and reminisce a little - on all that’s changed over the past two decades.
The rave scene has taken Cairo by storm over the last two decades, and has since been thoroughly fluctuating with the trends, standards, and general social evolution of the people. The recent progression and emersion of the underground music scene is a blessing in some ways; however, lest we forget the shenanigans and tragedies of times past, here are eight ways the clubbing environment evolved from the dingy undergrounds to the surfaces of the mainstream, and into its respective corners in society.
International DJ Selection
The most important factor of a rave is he or she who spins behind the decks, innit! But what on earth happened with the selection of international DJs we started hosting around 2006/2007, for starters? Our DJ ‘superstars’ were way more hardcore back around 1998-2000. I'm comparing renowned international DJs, here, and leaving underground talents aside. From Marco V, Carl Cox, Seb Fontaine, Sasha and Paul Van Dyk, to friggin' David Guetta, David Vendetta, and the degenerate likes, the former smash everyone’s brains off while the latter spin the same shit tune four or five times throughout a gig, exploiting the decks before them for money and fame. From Sonique’s vocal grace to some dumb, half-naked jerk-off on ecstasy who can’t get her pitch right - just hand us a bucket and let us celebrate that the era of the latter is coming to an end, because the recent effort focusing on international underground talent is in full force! Phew.
Music has been shifting fast over the years - from the Trance and hard House maestros of the early 90s and millennium, to Progressive House producers and composers who had their throne up until around 2005, to top quality Minimal Tech educators, to a lapse of judgment through a tried-and-failed desperate phase of Dubstep around 2011, and finally to specialist DJs playing smaller clubs to dedicated fans who listen as they dance. On the other hand are mainstream DJs who love their music and have a following who simply want to be entertained. Local DJs change drastically with the times around here, with a few exceptions who have stuck to their convictions and compose as often as they mix, or refuse to go digital. Do you know any local DJs who fall under any of the aforementioned categories? Give ‘em a shout in the comments section; we’ll leave the name praising (or shaming) to you. We’re staying out of this one!
Back when we didn’t have Facebook events or ‘reservations’, it was all a matter of word-of-mouth, flyers, phone calls, and buying tickets at the door - or off some dude who’s a friend of a friend that you had to meet at Gezira Club or on some street like a good old score. There were no fancy guest lists, no cameras flashing in every corner, and no photo albums portraying every incident that took place within the event by snapping every person who walked in and out. Even if the DJs were international or relatively famous and local, the venue was underground and very well packed with genuine ravers! Yes, back then it was called a rave and not a party.
Since no cameras were invading events, people were not expected to show up in their best outfits - no fashionistas were in sight, and no posers were flaunting themselves in anticipation of a photo-hungry cameraman. People went in comfortable clothes, shades, and whatever eccentric rave gear they had. Yeah, maybe a few sexy beasts were about, and we appreciated them for their authentic interest in looking good - no peer pressure, though.
Oh, the mania these days! The demand on all kinds of crazy drugs has upped their prices to elitist standards. We bid farewell the olden days where ecstasy pills cost 40 LE, and coke was for – what? – 500 LE. Thanks to all the party monsters, drugs have gone down to shit quality for over double the price. You’ll find them practically anywhere, and nothing whatsoever is special about them any no longer. Fuck you, mainstream.
We were such tight little circles of boys and girls - scattered, uninvolved in each other’s business. We possibly met other interesting folks here and there, but to each their own crew - like normal human beings. Now we see some sort of illuminati-inspired commune where it’s one big high class VIP circle at the top of the party pyramid, preceding a hierarchical setup of partygoers. If you don’t know them, you’re not part of the club. You’ll have a hard time getting into venues or getting to decent after parties. Everyone follows the leader; no one takes the lead. Accordingly, friendship values deteriorate while most people are after their own personal gain and the goldmine of party benefits.
We get that the price of alcohol is on the rise – sure, whatever works – but why on earth would we pay 200 LE to 300 LE for a party with a regular, local DJ, when the alcohol in there is already expensive as it is? 300 LE was literally the price of a decent international rave back in the day, and it won’t be long before those cost up to 1000-2000 LE, easily. So what’s it for, then; to filter the crowds? We never had to pay that much to be in a decent party packed with males and females alike; and, let’s face it, we’ve seen more sausage-fests at modern parties than back in the day, anyway. It’ll always be the same; some nights are good fun while others are overcrowded and suffocating. It has nothing to do with how much it costs, but extravagance seems to override logic nowadays.
These guys have always been there; to be honest, they’re the only stagnant factor in the rave scene. When the going gets tough, the bouncers clear the coast. That strategy beats any door selection, guest list, or invitation bullshit. They’re friendly with nice people and they’re assholes to troublemakers and perverts. We’d like to give those buff boys a big pat on the back for a job well done over the last two decades.