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May the Fourth -- A Look at Star Bars and Deep Space Discos

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 4, 2015 11:27am | Post a Comment



The original Star Wars had a huge impact on pop culture. As a child, nothing in the film had more impact on me than the cantina scene -- and judging from the changes in dance music and imitations that followed I wasn't alone. What better occasion to reflect on the film's impact than May the Fourth, also celebrated as Star Wars Day.




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Star Wars was released on 25 May 1977. I was probably three years old when I saw it in the theater because my fourth birthday followed a couple of weeks later and there were Star Wars dolls* emerging from the middle of a birthday bundt cake. After The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas would increasingly strain to appeal directly to children by introducing cuddly aliens and increasingly relying on cartoonish CGI but for me and many other children, Star Wars was already deeply appealing, dark and sometimes frightening as it was. 


For comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell, the cantina scene was the "threshold crossing" in the "hero's journey." For me it was a bit like viewing an ethnographic bestiary -- or a Halloween party (in the 1970s, Halloween hadn't yet been hijacked by adults and turned into streetwalker cosplay). One of the cheif appeals of Star Wars was its mystery and world building -- something which the expansion of the franchise would later explain away with banal backstories -- but on full display in the cantina. Of all the characters, 
only
Greedo was addressed by a name. The rest of the assembled wore no pageant sashes, name tags, or hash tags and aside from the viewers' understandings of evolution there were few clues as to the conditions of their home worlds. 
 
LAX Theme Building

The Star Wars cantina was what I wish Encounter in LAX's Theme Building had been, and what it will be if they get it right when it's re-opened. What the cantina wasn't was every lame, uninspired hive of pretense and conformity which bills itself (despite having a liquor license) as a "speakeasy."  It wasn't illuminated by Edison bulbs, the wines weren't listed on a chalk board, there was no unfinished wooden sign on the building's exterior describing it as an apothecary, and it was probably cash only. The bartender wasn't a lumbersexual and he didn't spend twenty minutes rubbing herbs on a mason jar in the name of "mixology."

Lindstrøm in San Francisco

Posted by Mike Battaglia, February 3, 2009 01:49pm | Post a Comment

This past weekend San Francisco was one of a select few cities to welcome Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, who brought his Cosmic Disco jams to the newly-reopened Paradise Lounge on a far-too-short three city tour (including Chicago and NYC). Lindstrøm's most recent full-length, Where You Go I Go Too, lindstrommade many Best of 2008 lists including yours truly's and Amoeba SF's Electronica section's, as well as Pitchfork's (#12), Mixmag's, Time Out's and more, and for good reason. Branching out from making 6-minute dancefloor singles, Lindstrom crafted the title track into a 30-minute epic piece that rises and falls like the tides, taking the listener on a proper journey through disco basslines, laser FX and a vibe that brings to mind Can and Jan Hammer locked in a room with Hamilton Bohannon.

Touching down in SF alongside locals Conor, Beat Broker and TK Disko, Lindstrøm took the crowd to new heights after a blinding set of intense space disco by Ryan "Beat Broker," maxing out the dancefloor and propelling us through a selection of his best ("Contemporary Fix," "Another Station," "I Feel Space") and some new, unrecognizable jams, all threaded through the epic soundscapes of music from his current album.

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Spacesynth (after a brief bit about Space Disco)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 14, 2008 04:00pm | Post a Comment

 

When you like a lot of the sci-fi movies from the mid-to-late 1970s, you frequently are treated to Rubellian utopias populated by horned-up hedonists, robots who are polished like (coke) mirrors and multi-racial aliens all getting together at the space disco/cantina/casino. As with almost all science fiction, it's more a reflection of the time of it's conception than any like future. This stuff was heavily indebted to the sexual revolution that preceeded it and was wholly clueless about the AIDS epidemic lying around the corner. In the tense, cold-war-fearing 80s, just a few years later, sci-fi frequently fell into two camps. On the one hand you have bands of marauders roaming the post-apocalyptic wastelands in churched-up dune buggies out to terrorize the few remaining civilized humans, who are attempting in a harsh world to preserve culture and science and maybe the knowledge of how to grow food. On the other you have gritty near-futures where market economics and technology have exploded into fearsome things, exploited by crusties who can access the internet through datajacks in their skulls. And they live in cities called Neo Tokyo and the like. But, for now, back to the 70s...

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