Of course she kicked things off by taking a #selfie.
There are times when an event is more than an event. Thus, attending Paris Hilton‘s DJ set on Friday night at Washington, DC’s Echostage was done in order to see what the blog posts, corporate-sponsored festivals, millions of tracks, and supposed billions of dollars to be had have allowed EDM in America to become. Intriguingly, after Hilton’s 90-minute set, I’m not angry, but I’m glad – and possibly even giddy – about what’s to come.
If wanting a true sense of the mainstream American awareness of EDM, Paris Hilton is the best person to watch play a live set. Though enormously entertaining superstars, folks like A-Trak and Skrillex are tasked with pushing EDM ahead. As well, there’s seeing Diplo or Major Lazer, but there’s a notion of stepping into a whole other Mad Decent universe in doing so. Those sets feel like setting course into a futuristic land where rap and reggae are king, and a stoic, gun-armed militant Jamaican warrior is invading trance and progressive house. Unlike those acts, Paris Hilton doesn’t need to do any of that. The socialite heiress of a hotel fortune, Hilton parlayed living a life of luxury (along with a scandalous recording of a sexual escapade) into five years of reality television fame, a global brand, and a pop music career that has ended up with her behind a controller at clubs worldwide.
Given her background, to expect the Afrojack-cosigned Hilton to have become Grandmaster Flash or hell, even Richie Hawtin or Maya Jane Coles as a live DJ in just over two years is completely ridiculous. As well, given a global touring schedule that involves overseeing numerous brand launches, modeling shows, and other events, to expect Hilton to play a set of forward-thinking music that’s going to put her on par with Main Course‘s Astronomar as having an ear for the future, that’s where you’re definitely asking too much. If you want to see a 33-year-old celebrity/businesswoman sharing a few EDM jams that she listens to in her spare time that you might enjoy, too? Yeah, this is that kind of show.
If ready to throw your laptop into the wall because you’re reading this, then understand that in always pushing dance music as a luxury brand, and as well currently pushing EDM more towards the mainstream than ever before, we’ve done this to ourselves. There’s nothing more smile and giggle-inducing than hearing Paris Hilton drop The Prodigy‘s “Breathe” and announce to the crowd that “it’s time for some old school…do you guys know who The Prodigy are?” As well, hearing Paris Hilton drop Zedd‘s “Stay The Night,” David Guetta‘s “Love is Gone,” Axwell‘s “Calling,” Feenixpawl and Ivan Gough‘s Axwell-remixed “In My Mind,” scads of classic Kaskade hits, and of course, Martin Garrix‘s “Animals,” was certainly expected once you came to realize what this was and how to appreciate what was going on.
The average EDM fanatic doesn’t read Do Androids Dance. I’d also stand to wager that they don’t read THUMP, Dancing Astronaut, Your EDM, or Earmilk, either. The average person is too busy working a regular job, attending classes, and living life to care about anything we say or do here. As well, when the average person heads out to a club to hear a dance music DJ, the expectation they have is to hear what’s playing on the radio, or some similar approximation of what they heard (and liked) they last time they “went clubbing.” If EDM’s popularity is providing you a more mindless escape than ever from an existence that’s more melodramatic than ever before, then Paris Hilton’s set did exactly what you need music to do for your existence.
As a DJ, Paris Hilton doesn’t so much DJ as much as she replicates the moments of excitement and mimics the motions of the greats that she’s seen from VIP for likely the better part of almost 20 years at some of the world’s best clubs and festivals. Yes, she’s backed by a mind-bending LED display and fronted by geysers of steam. Also, she’s throwing up trance hearts, perpetually screaming “I love you” and standing on top of the DJ booth. Also, she’s drinking a fair amount and having it possibly hinder her abilities to adjust pitch control and sonic equalizer controls at the close of her set. So, yes, pretty much, all of the tell-tale big room DJ moments we hate to love and love to hate were all there. Again, Paris Hilton doesn’t as much DJ as give back a certain amount of her clear and true love for the music. While, yes, she lacks the technical acumen of those with ten times her experience, she’s definitely having fun. And, given how wide we’ve opened the floodgates for EDM, her display of sheer joy must be (even if begrudgingly) accepted.
I’d wager that a large percentage of Americans now enamored with dance music are unaware of what it takes to be a great disc jockey and have a minimal at-best awareness of the rich history and diversity of dance as a culture. Furthermore, most people who engage with dance are just out to pump fists, wear hyper-sexual neon outfits, eat, sleep, rave and repeat the same process again soon – and that’s ultimately okay. If for commercial and social reasons we want dance to be mainstream in America, then we have to assume that for every ten Duck Sauces that there will always be one Paris Hilton. Aesthetically pleasing clubs playing aesthetically pleasing music and filled with aesthetically pleasing people will always attract the American luxury crowd. As well, as long as the die-hard and dedicated population knows that dance is now mainstream (and not going anywhere anytime soon), then the future is wild and infinite. It’s also happening right now.