Breakbot and Irfane: 25 January, 2013 – Club El Rodeo, Medellin, Colombia

As the moving masses in Medellin, Colombia made clear last Saturday night, Parisien DJs Breakbot and Irfane are at the top of their game.

I imagine that dancing at an electronic music show feels something like how going to church must feel for the religious. I’m not religious, but I love dancing and dance music, and there is something deeply moving and ritualistic about going to a show with a good DJ; dancing with the other revelers to a common beat, all of us united by a common goal: to have one hell of a good time, and appreciate the music for the miracle it is. Of course, there are some who simply want to stand around and get drunk, but I think that people who go to shows to dance feel differently. There is something beyond words, beyond the intellect going on here; something both primal and holy that compels us to move.

As the moving masses in Medellin, Colombia made clear last Saturday night, Parisien DJs Breakbot and Irfane are at the top of their game. When the duo took the stage a little after 10 pm, the crowd let out a roar usually reserved for football matches. And then, for almost three hours, we were lost: lost to the beat, and captivated by a rejuvenating and adventurous set spanning classic disco, a whole host of remixes, and a sample of selections from Breakbot’s breakout 2012 album “By Your Side.”

Breakbot, real name Thibaut Berland, has deep, piercing eyes which seem to look right through you when you return his gaze. After his set he and Irfane smoked cigarettes and chatted with myself and a few other concert-goers to the side of the stage. The pair seemed more than happy to answer questions and pose for pictures; impressive, considering the fact that they had just finished four shows in four nights, while at the same time traversing the length of South America.

“I thought the crowd tonight was good… It’s nice playing in places we’ve never played before,” Berland responded when I asked about tonight’s show. “Every audience is different… It’s a good feeling. It’s different than Paris for sure.”

“[Irfane and I] made a couple of mistakes tonight, but other than that I thought the show was good. I’m happy.”

“I love music that everyone can appreciate,” Irfane told me between long drags of his cigarette. “If I’m working on a new song, and my Mom likes it, I know it’s good.”

Judging by the music on Saturday, Irfane’s mother has exceptionally good taste.

There is something both familiar and innovative in every Breakbot and Irfane original; timeless, and at the same time obviously a product of the current moment in music. From Rihanna’s recent output, to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” to Bruno Mars’ “Treasure,” modern pop and dance music currently finds itself looking to the late-70’s for inspiration. I, for one, am happy about the trend, for that era in pop was all about dancing; all about encouraging the masses to get out of their heads, and into their feet, a bit more. Disco didn’t suck; disco was, and is, immensely valuable for one’s mental health.

I was thinking about all of this while I danced on Saturday night. I looked around at the bouncing mass of humanity surrounding me, and felt happier and more clearheaded than I had in some time. For all of us, I thought, are together tonight; all of us enjoying the same music, moving to the same vibrations, not speaking a word to each other yet sharing moments of real intimacy just the same. For when we dance we are truly vulnerable; showing the world an unguarded and un self-conscious side reserved for few other occasions. We are united by celebration; celebration of the music, the night, and our shared humanity. I wondered about how it felt for Breakbot onstage, watching us. And so after the show I asked him:

“It’s the best feeling in the world — watching the crowd move, and feeling the music. Everyone is together… It’s powerful,” he told me with a smile.

“That’s why I do it — I love bringing people together, and feeling that energy. It’s great.”