A State of Trance | Image Source: Helena Virgo
A quiet melody infused with strings, piano and glass chimes; a tranquil voice starts to sing. The beat begins and the melody plays on before reaching the breakdown, where choir-like voices sing in harmony. It is in this moment of the song that trance music can be set apart from other dance music genres. The breakdown is pure and serene: that is the beauty of trance.
Attending a first trance event at Sydney’s A State of Trance 700 in February, it was a weird sensation of actually enjoying a ‘rave’. Knowing very little about the genre and the artists playing, the music was fun and uplifting, not just loud noise. But what was most intriguing about the event was the crowd.
Groups of men and women huddled together singing along, couples holding each other also singing, and everyone in the room was smiling. It was like time stood still and nothing mattered to anyone. It was just the music and the moment.
“To me, it’s a way to escape the surroundings and challenges we face on a day-to-day basis”, says Kelly Gacoin, a trance fan.
“It becomes my sanctuary, where you can be submerged into a new place. It really does make you dream and enter a new world which lets you forget everything and enjoy the music. It creates a rush of emotions…which is just beautiful.”
Fan Tweet to Aly & Fila | Image Source Twitter
Sydney’s trance scene has become something of a phenomenon in recent years. Back in 2010, people would have to wait months for International DJ’s to perform. Now, a trance lover can visit a nightclub every Friday and watch their favourite artists.
“Our team is fortunate enough to create experiences weekly as well as huge events. We work very closely with artists and their labels, managers and agencies. We arrange a lot of International Australian tours…a lot of work goes in to what we do.”
So who attends these events?
On Facebook, an invitation was sent to join a group called Trance Music Appreciation Society (TMAS). Soon after, another invitation was sent to join TrancenDence* and #TranceFamilia*. These online communities transport people into the world of trance, constantly updating members with upcoming events, albums, new and old songs.
Combined, these groups have over 30,000 members located both in Sydney, Melbourne and across the world. Even local and International DJs know about the groups.
Armin Van Buuren interviews TMAS creator Lorin Pearce | Source YouTube
What is most intriguing about these groups is the amount positivity they promote. If you were looking to broaden your music knowledge, all you need to do is post and someone – or maybe three or four people – will help you out.
“TrancenDence is an amazing thing to be a part of. Everyone just shares the same interest in music,” says Michael Reaiche, a regular poster on TrancenDence.
“It’s nice to share what you love and get feedback from others who feel the same, or even don’t agree with you. It’s all about healthy conversation, which is great”.
An impressive feature of these online communities is the amount of discussion generated over artists and their songs. These posts lead into intense ‘threads’ with group members demonstrating such enthusiasm and passion for the genre, far in excess of anything I have witnessed before. Linking their favourite songs via YouTube and Soundcloud, these threads continue to grow and grow. Members even break down an artist’s full performance set for people who could not attend an event.
“I post a lot on TMAS and [through that] I have created many friendships and a musical family,” says Ms. Gacoin, a member of TMAS.
“We can share music around and discuss upcoming or post events. It’s like one big music forum, which is very cool.”
Members and their threads | Images Source Facebook
Members also share each other’s playlists on Spotify, enabling others to educate themselves even more. On Spotify people can follow their favourite artists, create playlists and be notified when a new track is released or a playlist they’re following is updated.
A State of Trance (ASOT) is a weekly radio show hosted by DJ and Producer Armin Van Buuren. Starting in 2001, the show recently celebrated its 700th broadcast and Sydney was one of the cities lucky enough to have hosted the tour. ASOT is a show that celebrates music and its fans, but it has not been without controversy given the death of an attendee in recent months.
Aly & Fila’s View at ASOT Sydney | Image Source Twitter
This year one person was found to have died at a Sydney-based trance event. Drug related deaths occur worldwide in a variety of different contexts and situations; it is not a problem exclusively limited to trance or dance music events.
“People are always going to take drugs, regardless of the event. Cancelling [events] isn’t going to solve it. Why should people who don’t take risks be deprived of attending an event?” says Mr Reaiche.
“I have never done drugs, none of my friends have or will. People forget that most people go sober, or have one or two drinks.”
“I have a great time and I don’t even drink” says Ms. Gacoin.
Since December 2014, two people have died in Sydney from drug-related symptoms. The risk posed by psychoactive drugs needs to be considered in the context of wider substance abuse. A 2014 survey found that 37.3% of Australians regularly consume Alcohol and in 2010 alone 5,554 deaths in Sydney were Alcohol related.
“It’s unfortunate, and a tragedy, that those people have died at events. But from what I have seen backstage, and even attending events myself, not every raver is there for drugs. People need to understand that there’s only a small minority that take Drugs… the media should not portray raves or trance events as a place that everyone gets high” says Simon Lovell.
What is interesting about these social media communities is the lack of discussion of Drugs and Alcohol. This does raise the question of whether the widely held perception of trance parties are largely about drugs and excessive Alcohol consumption is an accurate one. For the people we have spoken to, their main reason for attending these events is the love of music and the elation they, and other members of the groups, enjoy through experiencing their performances.
“Being in the same space as the artists…being captured by their sounds and seeing how happy they get watching the crowd react definitely puts a huge smile on my face…Meeting new people and engaging in the music with friends which brings us all together, that’s what it’s really all about” says Ms. Gacoin.
DJ Ilan Bluestone at Stereosonic Sydney 2014 | Video Source: Vimeo.
*Note: these groups are private on Facebook.
Helena Virgo, aged 22, is a recent Graduate Journalist. Currently obtaining her Graduate Certificate in Publishing, Helena hopes to continue creating articles about music and its fans.