The Complex World of Digging

Glad to hear. One of the best music books I’ve read in a long time.

Definitely the best book I’ve ever read about collecting. It makes some of the maddest record collectors I’ve come across look positively normal.

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Incidentally, I went to a record fair today full of very smelly men with no social skills digging through absurdly over priced Pink Floyd records.


This encapsulates my reasons for never attending record fairs.

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You’re very wise not to.

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As annoying as the tone of this documentary is, it does reflect a recent trend in younger record collectors. I have definitely witnessed some of the young team go crazy for a lot of 90s deep house, prog, trance, euro house stuff and drive the prices through the roof on them. Also, did anyone feel that the writer is going to quite extreme lengths not to use the term “tech house” in this?

I am not really cool enough to be going to any of the places these amazing records are being played, but that could be cos either:

  1. i am too uncool to be invited to those parties, or…
  2. from the videos i see of people asking for IDs they seem to be mostly not in the UK anyway.

I would love to know who the target demographic for this type of RA content is nowadays anyway.

If this is part of a rewriting of dance music history for a new generation, i would love to see who they have as the new heroes and legends of the scene.

RA has seriously gone off the boil over the past few years. They were a pretty good and insightful online mag for a while - but the editorial direction/content just seems to have become very bland and safe - nowadays the reviews seem to be bizarrely afraid of saying a record is not very good.


Indeed. I suspect that if a defined ‘scene’ existed then the ‘heroes and legends’ would have been namechecked in the film as this would have helped anchor the narrative. As it stands, i felt the film was little more than a vague treatise on tech-y ‘secret weapons’ written by someone with a limited knowledge of the subject matter.

After reading your post i thought I’d go back to watch it again in case i was misjudging the content, but the relevant IG post appears to have been taken down…! It was definitely there a couple of days ago because I scrolled through the comments for a laugh and to see what other people made of it. The video is still on their YT channel, but has disappeared from their IG - it was somewhere between the post at the bottom Left (JLin - Composing On A Bare Canvas) and the post 2 above it (Top 10 Festivals In October) :arrow_down:

Maybe I missed this detail in the original video, but the description attached to it on YT says;

“Digging is also a catch-all term for one corner of clubland… The scene emerged during the late 90s, led by DJs like Ricardo Villalobos, Vera and Zip and popularized by clubs like Club Der Visionaere in Berlin, Fabric in London and, years later, Phonotheque in Montevideo”.

I’m a bit out of my depth here, but this is bollox, right?

yeah it’s even worse when you put it in writing form. This has little to do with any of those DJs.

The revival of 90’s house is real and very very interesting but it doesn’t have to do with the complex art of digging or the 80’s being cheesy. It has to do with:

  • My generation’s unique take on nostalgia
  • certain album art s being predisposed to succeed in youtube’s algorithm
  • Vaporwave’s influence on internet culture

I feel like I’m actually pretty well positioned to research and write about what’s actually going on in the 90’s resurgence. I witnessed my internet culture shift at the same time 90’s stuff started working with very young crowds I was in at smartbar in Chicago. I’m hitting up a few key people and reading some stuff to piece it all together.

As a side note: the 90’s revival is still going but as opposed to 5 years ago, it leans way more mainstream than underground now. I help throw a regular party with different DJ’s and at least 8 of them this year have dropped some version of Gypsy Woman.


Ah… Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…!! :smiley:


I humbly apologize for the preceding post.

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So they were digging for rare 90s tech house, IN the 90s… :thinking:

I’m wondering if the script for this was actually the work of ChatGPT

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I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

Here’s the opening sentence in the video:

“For different people digging means different things, but in a certain corner of clubland it is both the ultimate term of admiration and the aspiration of every DJ.” :grimacing: :thinking:

It would also explain the error about Sunwaves being in Bucharest.

Edit: and the author is supposedly a lecturer in “20th and 21st C literature” at Glasgow University, so there’s really no excuse for the dodgy grammar.

The only reason I started buying 90’s house records (other than the music being great, of course) was because they were cheap. The only thing this video will definitely achieve is making them not be so cheap anymore. That’s maybe the main reason I hated it so much.

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Chat gpts attempt: Certainly! “Crate digging” refers to the practice of searching through crates (or bins) of old records at vinyl shops, thrift stores, flea markets, or anywhere old records are sold. It’s a beloved pastime for DJs, collectors, and music enthusiasts. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. History & Origin: Originally, DJs looked for obscure breaks and beats to use in their mixes, particularly in hip-hop. Over time, the search expanded to finding rare tracks, unreleased versions, or forgotten gems across all genres.

  2. Physical Aspect: A big part of the charm is the tactile experience. Flipping through records, feeling the weight of the vinyl, and examining the cover art is part of the thrill.

  3. Discovery: Unlike streaming platforms where algorithms suggest tracks, crate digging is unpredictable. You might find a rare jazz album, a forgotten soul singer, or a foreign rock band that resonates with you.

  4. Sample Mining: Producers and DJs hunt for samples that can be looped, modified, and integrated into new music. Rare and obscure tracks can provide unique sounds.

  5. Equipment: A portable turntable can be useful. It allows diggers to listen to records on the spot, ensuring they’re in good condition and assessing their potential.

  6. Knowledge: Understanding the history of labels, producers, and studios can be advantageous. For instance, if a record was produced by a notable figure, even if the artist is unknown, it might be worth a listen.

  7. Community: There’s a global community of crate diggers. They share finds, trade records, and discuss their passion on forums, social media, and in person.

  8. Economics: Some records can be quite valuable. Whether for personal collection or resale, understanding the market is beneficial.

  9. Challenges: Crate digging is not always glamorous. Dusty environments can trigger allergies, and there’s no guarantee of finding a hidden gem every time. The thrill is in the hunt!

In essence, crate digging is a journey through music history, an adventure in sound, and a treasure hunt all wrapped into one.


Reading that, they should definitely have got Chat GPT involved in its making :slight_smile:


Is this a better way of touching on the subject of “90s dance music diggers”?


I watched this last night. Definitely on a similar tip, but a bit more honest and real. I do find it interesting the house records that the younger generation of DJs are picking up on. Some of the things she’s bigging up are things I used to play, but I guess such was the volume of vinyl coming out then, I’m sure there are loads waiting to be discovered and sold at inflated prices on Discogs.

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I really enjoyed that book! Some great stories and, as a bonus, it made me feel relatively sane by comparison.

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