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Redeye January 01 2004

Be Kind, Rewind: Thinking back on the year that was Y2K+3, the most predominant theme was one I lauded again and again — the return to intimacy.

From production to productions, many artists and promoters devalued "star power" and reestablished "charisma." I remember first noting it on a trip overseas: sitting cross-legged on the floor mesmerized by an organ drone and a drum machine in Dortmund, Germany's Cosmotopia; laying on a bed in Amsterdam's Supper Club dining on chocolate-dipped strawberries and sumptuous house; sweltering in a London basement to the ramping squelch of Radioactive Man; hashing it out to the gnashing sounds of techno in a former Parisian theater. In all these places I saw something that long seemed foreign on the local scene: people engaged in communal acts without the disassociate density that marked the rise of electronic music in the '90s.

Coming back to Atlanta, it turned out the trend was thankfully not lagging far behind. You know you're maturing as a city when the flash in the pan is no longer as important as the slow sizzle.

From the Crescent Room to MJQ, small rooms drew big names like Peanut Butter Wolf and Deep Dish. With the openings of Formosa and The Mark, more venues opened where people could find themselves not only in the same place, but in the same headspace. Private spaces continue to pop up, rallying those who oppose sanctions on socializing. Even in bigger houses such as eleven50 and Riviera, there were discussions with opinions bumping as briskly as beats.

And the music indicates this shift. Musically, the genre known as microhouse came into its own in 2003. Stripping the heartstring-yanking excess from house music, producers such as Ricardo Villalobos and Matthew Dear created pared-down progressions that elicit increased emotion by forcing the listener to develop his or her own affinity as opposed to following a dictated one. Producers, including local Richard Devine, now devote time to surround sound encoding and installations because, no longer satisfied with the detachment of the dance floor, they strive to sculpt entire environments for individuals to explore at their own pace in their own place.

But the dance floor will never die. People will always need a place to both lose and find themselves. However, it's in the new "dance culture," in which ideas as much as bodies dance about, where people will really find the chance to understand each other. If the technology of the new millennium has taught us anything it is that we are a culture voracious for exchange. Now technology is providing us ways to personalize the process.

Just because this column covers DJ culture, I know it doesn't have leave to sound like a broken record, but many of my favorite 2003 memories are of reminiscing.

Crossfade into 2004.

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.??