Open to Close: A Musical Journey by Arnej


Written By Arnej Secerkadic

This article was featured in NightCulture Magazine, Issue 1.

The notion of an open to close set is by all means not a new one. The history of dance music is filled with such moments, from infamous 16 hour sets by Danny Tenaglia to Tiesto’s “In Concert” series. So what was it that drove a DJ to play such a long set? It may seem alien to today’s fan but several years back, playing 3-4 hour sets was standard practice. It’s important to note that your average track length back then was 7-8 minutes long. Playing an hour long set usually meant the DJ played 10-12 records on average. Almost by default the DJ had to play longer to squeeze in all the records that he really wanted to hear. Those were the days where DJs didn’t edit records to suit their needs but played them as the producer had created them. The producer often wrote a story within his records and in turn the DJ was able to use these stories as chapters to create his own story. The story-telling aspect of the DJs set is a component that compelled many people towards dance music. This is an element I wanted to resurrect.

My first introduction to dance music was in 1994. Having immigrated from a war-torn country to Canada, having access to dance music wasn’t always easy. The scene was predominantly European based, with small pockets of it trickling across the pond. By 2000, the internet became more readily accessible and the scene grew exponentially. Entire communities such as TranceAddict came to life. All of a sudden, we had access to these amazing DJ sets that were common place in Europe.

I spent majority of the 2000s being a fan of the music as many others. In a strange way, I never associated dance music to club music. Many of my nostalgic moments that I associate to the music now have been simply me listening to it on my headphones whilst working. Having missed many of the opportunities to experience this at clubs and raves, the desire in me to bring this back, even in the most slightest of ways, grew. I understood that many people didn’t get to experience this dance music phenomenon, so when the opportunity presented itself that allowed me to create my own open to close classics set, I immediately jumped on it.

This sense of a musical journey was the goal I aimed to achieve. As big as dance music is today, many are unfamiliar with the multifaceted origin of it. There was something about it that gravitated me towards it and I immediately grew an attachment to Trance specifically. It spoke to me in a strange language, a musical language, that somehow I clearly understood. It didn’t require words to carry its message. It was pure, it was real and genuine. What is it about a melody that take the listener to a different place? I don’t know, but that emotion-laden journey is captivated me wholly. Emotion has always been the centerpiece of my music and this is something I wanted to bring back.

While it’s important to keep the scene moving forward, we also should not forget where it came from and why it became what it is. The DJ is a curator and an educator at the same time. We’re all guilty of sometimes failing in the education aspect of Djing, often catering to only what the crowd wants to hear. My mission was clear, this set had to highlight the educational aspect of DJing. The lesson was not only the crowd’s to be had but my own as well. Much of the music I chose to play I never got to experience live myself. I wasn’t just a DJ that day, I was very much a fan for all 8 hours and 21 minutes of it. This experience just further cemented how important this music is to me, and always will be. |

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