Black Girl in a Material World.

Underground dance music lacks those superficial elements that are glorified in todays culture, so it must not be “cool”, right? WRONG.

I often wonder if my friends “outside of the scene” wonder what my infatuation with Underground Dance Music exactly is? I mean, how cool could it be? People smiling, dancing, laughing, expressing themselves; a diverse crowd of people of different ages, colors, and sizes, some of them speaking different dialects. A place where people look out for one another, and a place where strangers often become friends. A place where you can be your damn self…Wait, that actually does sound cool, right? Thats what one would think, but is not always the case, which is why I don’t understand why so many Black people aren’t willing to embrace these types of environments.

Rewind to last night, I’m sitting in a hip hop club in full make-up and heels, squeezed into a booth with my friends, with Migos “Bad and Bougie” as the soundtrack. Bottles of Hennessy, Patron and Champagne flow freely as we breathe in the oh so familiar scent of chicken wings and Kush that bring me back to my younger days in Atlanta. It was a close friend of mines Birthday celebration, so I agreed to attend, and as expected, my anxiety going into it wasn’t the most the pleasant experience. As I stare at myself in the mirror:  “Hmm, what will I wear, how will I do my hair, what jewelry should I wear…fuck, my nails aren’t done!?” A chick like me is used to pretty much throwing on some chucks and lip gloss and walking out the damn door. Not tonight though, thats not acceptable in the world of “Black Hollywood”…Nonetheless, I was excited to see old friends, and I figured how bad could it be? Its only 3 hours of my life, I’ll survive. (Fingers crossed.)

My girl Shani rode with me to the festivities, and I opted not to take uber beacuse I wanted to be able to get the fuck out of there as soon as it was possible. Boy, was that a stupid decision. As we pulled up towards the Midtown Atlanta club, I see a line wrapped around the door and bunch of girls standing in the rain barely inching towards the door. I laugh. We proceed to drive around in circles looking for a parking spot until we finally come across a lot across the street from the club, score! We pull in, the attendant walks up and very nicely says “80.00$” ladies”. WHAT IN THE ENTIRE FUCK???!!! I’m literally in shock as this man really thought I was going spend $80.00 to park my car just to walk into a club! What boggled my mind even further is that people were actually parking there. Look, I don’t know about yall, but even if I had $80.00 to blow I most definitely wouldn’t spend that shit on parking my damn car! I zoom the fuck off, and we spend another 15 or so minutes looking for parking. FINALLY, we find some secure parking in a nearby high rise and the attendant charges us 25.00$, which I was still pretty annoyed about. Its not the money I was annoyed about, yet the principal that these people were choosing to rip people off because they realize parking options for the club are limited, and figure the “ballers” will pay it (which they do)…pretty disgusting if you ask me. Oh how I missed my usual (and free) Edgewood Ave parking in that moment. Sigh.

After the parking shenanigans, we finally find the rest of my crew and we walk thru the VIP entrance and are escorted to our private booth, well kinda private, we’re still squeezed in next to the some other booth purchasers who have a table next to us. For the first 30 minutes or so I felt like I was at the movies, like I was in the movie, but I was also watching the movie. Girls twerking, blunts being rolled, an uncomfortable amount of selfies being taken. Where am I? My friends boyfriend proceeds to pass me a blunt and I inhale…damn this feels good, but now I’m high, and now I’m really observing the coonery that surrounds me. I couldn’t help but to question why this type of environment is so rewarding to so many of us? Theres absolutely nothing intriguing about it, and its beyond superficial. Everyone in their “Sundays best”, which really is just a bunch of name brand bullshit they more than likely can’t afford. Oh, and of course every song thats played has to reference “thick bitches”, “red bones”, “purple drank”, and “good weed”, which in itself proves just how much of an influence certain music is having on modern day culture. It seems like everyone wants to emulate those lyrics, or what they saw on TV.

As the night went on there was a point when the DJ got on the mic and started telling the ladies to point out their “thickest friend”, and proceeds to play a song that I can only assume is called “Thick”. And we wonder why we got all these young girls out here trying to get ass shots, and breast enhancements & shit….welp. Some of the things modern day Black culture praises is absolutely mind blowing. Don’t get me wrong, I know my sisters are known for being curvy, and I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating that, but the way people are going about it is completely inappropriate, and has the potential to be detrimental. There are so many young and insecure little girls out there who have these lyrics fed to them via radio, internet, and cell phone on a daily basis. What message are we sending them? What happened to celebrating who the fuck you are? What happened to celebrating your goals and achievements? I’m sorry yall, but having a “fat ass” isn’t an achievement. Between the parking, trap music, and excess of snapchat filters I felt exhausted. It was too much; everyone trying so hard to prove or portray something. In that very club though, I realized just how much I’d grown over the years and suddenly began to feel a sense of peace. I mean, I was only in that club to celebrate my friends Birthday anyway, so thats what I decided to focus on for the duration of the night.

I guess last night just made me realize why I LOVE the fuck out of the underground dance music scene. Its not about being “seen”, its not about portraying an image, its not about “stuntin for the gram”…its about music, unity, and the celebration of life. I’m aware that different people have different definitions of celebrating life, but I’m choosing the latter. This issue also stems back to the struggle of younger Black representation in dance music; it seems as though they truly aren’t interested. Is it the lack of glitz and glamor? Is there not enough talk of cars and clothes? Are there not enough derogatory lyrics in the music? Underground dance music lacks those superficial elements that are glorified in todays culture, so it must not be “cool”, right? WRONG. Its disheartening if you ask me, but hey, what can I do? In this case, I simply can find peace in knowing that I can see through those smoke and mirrors and see who I am, what I represent, and what I’m about. I can see myself; a strong and intelligent black woman who’s priorities have nothing to do with a fat ass or the perfect selfie.

Learn to Love Yourself.

-ASH ❤

Author: ashlauryn

ASH LAURYN is a DJ and party promoter hailing from Detroit, MI who is currently based in Atlanta, GA. ASH specializes in underground dance music, and says most of her influence stems from her roots back home in Detroit. As an active member of the dance music community for over a decade, ASH hosts her own event series called ORBIT, and is currently a resident DJ with Atlanta’s Deep South crew.