With new venues such as Contact and Sankeys opening their doors in Tokyo this spring, there is hope for a resurgence in the underground electronic music circuit in 2016. But with a glut of EDM mega-bashes, the festival scene for mature dance music fans can sometimes look a bit bleak.
A gathering in the mountains of the Izu Peninsula is trying to add a little color — and funk — to a monotone canvas.
“I love all festivals, but it would be good to see more musical variety,” says Rainbow Disco Club chief producer, Masa Tsuchiya. And most clubbers would be inclined to agree. RDC, which will take place this year from April 29 to May 1, has been providing quality tunes since its inception in 2010. Previous years have seen internationally revered DJs and beatmakers such as DJ Harvey, Todd Terje and Moodymann enter the booth, so fans of the festival have come to expect the highest standard of disco, house and funk at this annual party. And sound quality too — the Funktion One system is among the most finely tuned out of the country’s outdoor events.
“This year we have my personal fave, Andrew Weatherall, playing a three-hour set, as well as Gilles Peterson and Nightmares on Wax,” says Tsuchiya with a smile. “It will be a U.K. face-off.”
But it hasn’t all been grins and jams. RDC 2011 was halted by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the following year’s installment was canceled due to torrential rain.
“I think we’re the only festival that’s survived after being canceled two years in a row,” Tsuchiya says. “Freedommune and Metamorphose both disappeared. It was a sad time, but now we can look back and sometimes even laugh about it.”
The urban festival — which Tsuchiya says was named after the Rainbow Bridge where the party was held between 2010 and 2014 — made a move to the mountains last year, and even upped the ante by becoming a three-day affair.
“We wanted to create a more profound experience where people can fully sync into the musical program, dance to the music and just hang out barefoot in the beautiful surroundings,” Tsuchiya explains. “That’s why we don’t offer any single-day tickets.” A courageous move, yet one that will hopefully prove fruitful.
So what’s needed for the ideal music festival anyway? “Love,” Tsuchiya says simply. And that could well be what the country’s shrinking dance music scene is in need of.
Rainbow Disco Club 2016 takes place from April 29 to May 1 at Higashi-Izu Cross Country Course in Higashi-Izu-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture. Three-day tickets cost ¥15,000 in advance. For more information, visit www.rainbowdiscoclub.com.
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