the nineties called – they want their style back. not only are the 90s making a triumphant return in fashion but we’re welcoming back the sounds and styles of decades past in music as well. and who could blame us? in a time when technology is at its most advanced and oversaturation of DJs and producers is at its peak, it’s not surprising that we’re nostalgic for a simpler time. when rave culture first started making its way over to north america from the UK and europe, it opened the door to a new world of music, community, and experience that was entirely unknown to us previously. Who would have guessed that dance music would become the phenomenon it is today – commercialized to the point that so-called “EDM” and “skrillex” have become household names. subculture has, without a doubt, become pop culture. maybe this explains why the golden days of dance music and fashion are coming back with a vengeance.
culturally, the 90s were branded by the rise of alternative media. new technology like cable TV and the internet brought electronic music to the masses – perhaps the biggest problem with dance music today – so maybe we have only ourselves to blame. we did invent electric circus, after all. that said, the early years of dance music were not nearly the cultural spectacle that they’ve since become. they had a distinct innocence about them, a kind of “magic” that made electronic music something of a novelty. maybe this comeback means that we’ve come full-circle, or maybe it just means that we’re bored. either way, we’re welcoming back the 90s in more ways than one.
throwbacks are staples for guys like soul clap, ricardo villalobos, and stacey pullen, but the trend has been picked up by dance music newcomers as well. artists like ryan hemsworth, cyril hahn, and magic fades favor samplings and bootlegs of destiny’s child, brandy & monica, and craig david. somehow, even aaliyah is making a comeback. old school R&B and hip-hop sampling has become the unlikely of-the-moment fad, re-genrefying itself as “post-R&B.” what’s old is definitely new again. not that we’re mad about it. there’s something to be said about the way throwback electronic music puts a smile on our faces: it’s relatable, witty, and accessible in a way that isn’t quite commercial. simply put, it’s so cool because it’s not.
and it’s not just music that seems to be waxing nostalgic. nineties style is having a moment as well: today’s young and fashionable girls are like some unstoppable hybrid of cher horowitz, nancy downs, and kim gordon. hedi slimane’s fall 13 collection for saint laurent may have brought back the grunge movement, but it’s the army of twentysomethings decked out in flannel shirts and doc martens that have made it work (“hell no” attitude and all).
and as for rave fashion? the new generation of ravers have appropriated it in their own way, and true to form, it involves strikingly less clothing than days past. where once there was wide leg “phat pants,” adidas tracksuits, and sneakers – the fashion popularized by the need for comfort during all-night dance parties – today there’s micro shorts, printed spandex, and sneaker heels. but the style remains the same at heart: neon or animal printed club wear, and overzealous affection for kandi beads and pacifiers continues to thrive in the commercial rave and mainstream music scenes; proof that a leopard doesn’t change his spots, so to speak.
if we’re rejecting the mainstreaming of dance music, or simply embracing our roots, the cyclicality of music and fashion has ensured that the 90s are making a comeback, whether we like it or not. so, what does that mean we can expect 20 years from now? we can’t know for sure, but we can hope that the next generation of electronic music lovers don’t bring back “EDM” and call it vintage.