EVERyBODy DANCE NOW
text sarah fakray film rineke dijkstra
Liverpol clubers dance like nobody’s tching in Rineke Dijkstra’s video portraits
In the mid-90s, Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra was in a taxi, on her way to the now as good as extinct Liverpool nightclub Cream in search of subjects. Finding a queue that snaked around the building, she asked the driver to take her somewhere else. He dropped her off at Buzz Club; she couldn’t have asked for more. Most of the clientele were underage and they had the DJ announcing birthdays over the PA. Knocking up a makeshift studio in one corner, Dijkstra plucked teenagers off the dancefloor, asking them to pose for portraits and dance in isolation against a white background. The portraits veer from self-conscious to self-confident, and possess the unembellished, luminous beauty of her earlier adolescent portraits, this time with a bleach blond edge (and some accidentally hilarious video moments). Revisiting the idea more recently, Dijkstra returned to Liverpool, this time to the three-floor club The Krazyhouse, to film the next generation of the city’s clubbers dancing sober.
dazed & confused: Did you get a different type of person in Buzz Club than you’d get in Cream? rineke dijkstra: Yeah, it was much more specific than Cream somehow. Something that maybe you could only find in Liverpool. First I took photos against a white background, but everything that was great about the club was missing in the photographs – like the DJ’s announcements and the music. Then a friend said, ‘Maybe you should think about video.’ That was totally new for me. It was difficult for those kids to just stand there, so I made all kinds of scenarios for them: like, ‘Imagine you’re standing on a dancefloor and your friend is in the loo, the DJ is playing your favourite song and you really feel like dancing, but there’s no way that you go on the dance floor alone, so instead maybe you smoke a cigarette.’
Were The Krazyhouse dancers any more selfconscious? You shot them last year in the daytime and they weren’t boozing or taking drugs like the Buzz Club kids… Yeah, it was difficult. Sometimes I thought I should buy a bottle of wine, but I couldn’t give them anything to drink. The music helped a lot, and they would bring friends. I really tried to build up an atmosphere for them. I brought my own DJ.
What did you discover about their attitude? Well, they were trying to look older, but they were still very young. When you work with a specific group of people they look very similar at first, but I always try to bring out the individual. That’s always the main thing I’m interested in.
How do the videos and the photographs work together? What I like about the photos is that when you see them from the distance, you just see a girl or a guy. But then you come really close and because they’re so sharp and so detailed, you can see all the details in the face: the CONFUSED
PHILIP ROBERTS, 21
What do you do? I am a hairdresser.
Which hairstyles are popular in Liverpool at the moment? It’s all about the curly blows with lots of height and backcombing! LOL.
How often do you go to The Krazyhouse and what do you like about it? I’ve only ever been The Krazyhouse a few times. I love the variety there.
How long have you lived in Liverpool? All my life.
What did you think when you were approached by Rineke and asked to dance for her? When I was approached, I was a little bit tipsy. But I was very willing to dance for her as I have danced all my life. I met my boss in the Liverpool Echo fashion show when I was a child dancer.
How self-conscious or self-confident did you feel whilst doing it? Because I’ve done dance shows before I was okay with dancing – the adrenaline kicks in.
How do you think the way you dance expresses who you are? I dance with a lot of energy. In my life I’m a very energetic person, so when I dance it just represents me as a person in my everyday life.
make-up, the eyebrows... It’s a kind of intimacy that you can’t get from video. Video is much more about movement and the way they express themselves to their favourite music.
What have the dancers’ reactions been like when they watch the videos back? It was really interesting to see them watching themselves. One girl called Nicky was really, really shy. It’s very confronting to watch yourself dancing, because you never really see what you look like when you watch yourself in the mirror.
Will you continue doing dance portraits, perhaps in a different format? Quite unexpectedly I’ve been asked by the National Ballet to do something with them. Just now I’m following lessons and going to the rehearsals and performances. I don’t know what to do yet. But I also never want to know exactly what I’m going to do.
Above: still from The Krazyhouse, Liverpool, 2009 Rineke Dijkstra’s Liverpool portraits and videos can be seen at Tate Liverpool (until Aug 30); Galerie Jan Mot, Bruxelles (until June 5); and Marian Goodman Galleries in Paris (until June 5) and New York (until Aug 1). ISee AWomanCrying, featuring other Liverpool-based video works unseen in the UK, is showing at Tate Liverpool until August 30