Each year, a few key individuals have an immense impact across dance music, both at a local and international level.
They can come from almost any sector, and don't have to even be involved in dance music directly. But they do have to be passionate, and show a great deal of understanding as to what our scene needs to continue moving in a positive direction for years to come.
These are the people who changed dance music in 2016.
Fiona Measham of The Loop - UK
It’s been an especially difficult year for drugs and clubbing in the UK, and harm reduction has become one of the single most important issues in dance music. Few people are fighting harder to make partying safer than Fiona Measham, who cofounded the nonprofit organisation The Loop that conducts forensic testing of drugs at UK festivals and nightclubs.
Through her pioneering efforts, large numbers of people across the UK better understood what was in their drugs before ingesting, often discarding drugs laced with potentially harmful substances. Only a handful of festivals utilized her on-site drugs testing this year, but Fiona is helping pave the way forward for legitimate drugs testing at more clubs and festivals in the future, and turning an legal issue into a health and welfare issue, and keeping countless clubbers safe in the process.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng of South African Broadcast Corporation - South Africa
Although his position within the South African Broadcast Corporation has been questionable over the last few months Hlaudi Motsoeneng spearheaded the ruling that all music programming on government owned radio stations in South Africa were to contain 90 percent local music. It was a bold yet short lived move, but one that saw unsung heroes rise from the ether and begin their careers as musicians.
His ruling helped instill a sense of empowerment in South African musicians and was a great step to redirect needletime monies back to local artists and composers across the board.
2016 was the year Sydney’s anti lockout movement Keep Sydney Open made itself heard. Though undoubtedly a team project with many in the music industry lending considerable effort to the cause, it was the campaign manager and chief spokesperson, Sydney DJ and ABC Rage programmer Tyson Koh, who became the voice of dissent and truly mobilised the masses against the laws which have damaged Sydney’s international reputation and caused scores of venue closures since their inception.
This year Koh has given interviews across both liberal and conservative media, consulted with Justice Ian Callinan, the representative tasked with a detailed independent report of Sydney’s lockouts on behalf of the government, along with his team developed detailed recommendations to improve nightlife safety, manned a growing social media community which numbered 50 000 after only one year and marshalled around 30 000 people through the streets of Sydney across two inspiring protests - the largest number by far to hit the streets for any cause in Australia this year.
Though the laws currently still stand, Koh has been instrumental in motivating and organising the usually apathetic youth community of Sydney in a united cause - and none of us is prepared to let up until its goal is achieved.
Mirik Milan and Lutz Leichsenring - Amsterdam and Berlin
While Amsterdam’s Night Mayor Mirik Milan has been in office in the Dutch capital since 2014, his influence is starting to be felt in nightlife scenes around the world. Along with the Berlin Clubcommission spokesperson Lutz Leichsenring, they have been exemplary figures in arguing the cultural role of nightlife, and are constantly referred to around the world in conversations about the value of forming coalitions of nightlife businesses to best represent the interests of the industry.
As cities around the world fight to keep their nightlife institutions open, the roles played by the likes of Milan and Leichsenring are considered increasingly valuable, and will likely become the blueprint for London’s new Night Tzar Amy Lamé as she works with Mayor Sadiq Khan to add £3bn to the nightlife economy.
Mamsa Wijaya of Jenja Nightclub - Indonesia
Mamsa is the founder, co-owner, and resident DJ of Bali’s most prolific techno venue Jenja. He has been the man behind the scenes and decks of many clubs around Bali, however 2 years ago he started a haven for techno enthusiasts. Jenja Nightclub has seen the likes of Timo Maas, Jamie Jones, Ame to grace their decks and is inviting Detroit living legend Carl Craig before the year ends. Mamsa and Jenja truly left their mark on Indonesia’s clubbing scene by being the first Bali run establishment to expand into Jakarta. Jenja Jakarta has become the second stop for their guest DJs, making Jenja the techno providers for both Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city and Bali, the nation’s party central.
Nakadia - Thailand
A a trailblazer at a watershed moment for Asian and female DJs, Nakadia’s massive success with brands like Cocoon has helped catapult the Thai star into the international spotlight, earning her speaking duties at the likes of Asia Pacific edition of the International Music Summit (IMS) in Shanghai. All this has helped her send the clear message to both local fans and women around the globe that nothing is impossible.
Fiona Measham by Gary Calton