I’ve been describing RUB8 ‘silent disco’ season finale as a happening. ‘It’s like a real dance party’ Aliisa Talja AKA DJ folk flore quipped during the night. Indeed, it was the people who made it ‘happen’, and upon reflection my role was to make the space and also make it worthwhile for people to ‘come to the party’ and to take up a kind of responsibility for it. This includes the time and effort taken to build trust — friendship. I doubt RUB8 would have been successful among strangers.
A headphone party seemed consistent with the idea of RUB, an online club with no physical room and that one could only enter via audio; a club I promoted as having a ‘no body policy’ because no bodies were in the room. A headphone party still meant participants would have to ‘bring the sound to their bodies’ and put it in them, but they would also have the experience of other bodies. Indeed it is curious that headphone parties have acquired a vernacular phrase,‘silent disco’, so it does not require much explanation. Although, I did expect it to be awkward, which might warrant further thought as an aesthetic category, such as those put forth by Sianne Ngai who wrote this about the ‘zany’ (2012, p.7):
the zany more specifically evokes the performance of affective labor—the production of affects and social relationships—as it comes to increasingly trouble the distinction between work and play. The formal dynamics of this seemingly lighthearted but strikingly vehement aesthetic, in which the potential for injury always seems right around the corner, are thus most sharply visible in arts of live a recorded performance—dance, Happenings, walkabouts, reenactments, game shows, video games—and in the arts of rhythm and movement in particular.
RUB8 took place as usual online on SonoBus, but we also gathered in person in my studio at the Helsinki International Artists Programme (HIAP). As soon as one enters my apartment they are in my studio, which was the dance floor. By the entrance is a flight of stairs that leads to the living area at the rear of the building; the VIP. Inbetween is a mezzanine, which overlooks the front half of the studio, which was the ‘DJ cockpit’.
Irina Mutt described her experience as ‘dancing in my bedroom in the dark, but with others.’ Fan Chon Hoo made note of the ‘technical glitches’ which returned him to the room and the current context — (another) reality — alluding to the way the sound ‘transports’ or ‘augments’ where one is physically present.
To explain: We began a little late and the set-up required physically switching inputs between performers, so I copied a back-up file to my hard drive to play during changeovers. It was the March podcast of fugitive frequency ‘Double Troubles’, a montage of recordings made at the demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Helsinki (26.2), mixed into a recording of a RUB live mix a few days before on 2.02.2022. Notably the protest interventions into the RUB8 broadcast were not designed or pre-determined, it was simply the first file I found. Furthermore ‘Double Troubles’ was made quite hastily as a document/reflection of that moment.
The programming of RUB can be thought of compositionally. It occurred on the night of the new moon; the black dot of the lunar cycle that lands on the grid of the Gregorian calendar. RUB didn’t occur on a consistent day of a week, arguably a more conventional way of running a regular event. I describe it like a ‘moving one’ in music composition, the ‘one’ being the beat that is stressed when counting a time signature. So, in terms of timing or composition, I want to stress that the inclusion of ‘Double Troubles’ was not planned, yet it became a critical juxtaposition to the other sounds being broadcast. I am interested in this kind of ‘synchronicity’ and how to keep developing events or happenings that remain open to this.