What We Started review: “a decent, comprehensive account of dance music’s evolution”

Carl Cox, Martin Garrix and a who's who of dance-music doyens provide chapter and verse on the history of EDM

whatwestarted

★★★

A documentary about dance music feels like a contradiction in terms; to analyse what is an intuitive, primal, physical activity risks robbing its essence. That said, the form’s history is as colourful and politically charged as the well-worn, hoary old saga of rock, and co-directors Bert Marcus and Cyrus Saidi give a decent, comprehensive and star-witness-studded account of its evolution, from sexually liberating New York disco to the more consumer-led EDM (electronic dance music) of today.

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Footage of 50-something Carl Cox working a crowd over a ten-hour all-nighter in Ibiza is contrasted with laptop-enabled Martin Garrix, the Dutch bedroom whizz who was catapulted to the world stage while still in his teens. What We Started pays respect to pioneers Paul Oakenfold, Louie Vega and Pete Tong, and teases old-school opprobrium from them as they accuse today’s “superstar DJs” of lacking their hard-won turntable skills in a USB-stick age. Does the technology matter? The jury’s out in what is a two-sided account. But the grandads certainly have better war stories to tell.

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Available on Netflix now