Article Number: 8166
Magazine, English, Staple Binding, 45 Pages, 2015
Kai von Rabenau

mono.kultur #39: Terre Thaemlitz/ DJ Sprinkles

The Arrogance of Optimism

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‘In relation to these larger dynamics, the music is pretty irrelevant,’ says Thaemlitz during our interview, ‘these larger dynamics’ referring to the political undertones of nightlife, as safe spaces for social interaction in general and gender and sexual variance in particular.

The voice introducing house music’s roots on Midtown 120 Blues by Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles is certainly not what you would expect to hear on the dance floor. It is entirely at odds with the euphoric escapism normally associated with electronic dance music and the flattened, mindless spectacle of the nightlife economy.

Instead, it is a critical voice speaking of the sexually and racially diverse contexts from which house emerged in New York in the 1970s and ’80s, reminding us that much of dance music’s utopianism comes from a place of struggle, desperation, and injustice, be they transgendered sex work, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, discrimination, or HIV. Thaemlitz frequently invokes these historical fragments in order to make visible what today’s commerce-oriented music industry would rather forget.Politics and the dance floor make for uneasy bedfellows, and it is this uneasiness that drives most of Terre Thaemlitz’ work, confronting head-on issues that are usually off limits in electronic music. She is a producer, writer, educator and activist of sorts, with very fluid notions of gender, switching continuously between male and female drag. The fragility of identity – sexual and otherwise – in relation to the larger world is a central theme for Thaemlitz (who tellingly also produces under the monikers of DJ Sprinkles, Social Material, Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion and K-S.H.E.), dissecting the boundaries and friction between public and private, between minority and mainstream.Language: English