When Paul van Dyk tapped DJs from around the world for his latest album, he called it "The Politics of Dancing 3" to show the unifying power of dance music. But now the leading electronic artist is up against some real politics of dancing -- his album is unavailable in much of the Arab world, apparently due to his inclusion of Israeli DJs.
“It’s quite strange that the political situation in some corners of this planet forbid this album from being released,” van Dyk told AFP before a recent club set in New York.
“It’s almost surreal, and it’s disappointing. I really thought we had progressed further than that already,” he said.
“The statement was very clear — this music brings people together, regardless of what god they believe in, or what religion they follow, or what citizenship they have.”
The German DJ, who is considered one of the founders of trance music, said he had been told that his album was unavailable in a number of Arab countries.
AFP reporters in Egypt and Lebanon confirmed that searches locally on iTunes for “The Politics of Dancing 3” turned up no results.
The album, however, was accessible to iTunes users whose accounts were registered in Western countries. The album is available in Israel.
Officials did not comment on decisions on the album. Boycotts of Israeli products, including cultural, are widespread in the Arab world.
Van Dyk brought in numerous established and up-and-coming DJs for “The Politics of Dancing 3,” including several from the Arab world such as Egyptian duo Aly and Fila, who have emerged as a leading force on the global trance scene.
Two collaborators — Michael Tsukerman and the duo Las Salinas — are Israeli, but they do not perform alongside the Arab artists.
– Frequent visitor to Middle East –
The controversy surprised van Dyk, who enjoys an Arab fan base and has played in the past year in Beirut, Doha, Dubai and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Van Dyk is hardly known for loaded lyricism. The track with Tsukerman has only one line, which is repeated over a club-packing beat: “If we only look back then we never know what we’re living for.”
“If I had some bad lyrics on there, or something that doesn’t qualify for a young audience or whatever — stuff like that I understand,” van Dyk said.
Van Dyk released the first “The Politics of Dancing” in 2001, with the title meant to celebrate youth culture amid a crackdown on clubs under New York’s then mayor Rudy Giuliani, who campaigned aggressively on law-and-order.
Van Dyk said he did not intentionally choose Arab and Israeli artists for “The Politics of Dancing 3” and instead picked DJs on artistic merit.
But in an earlier interview with AFP released as the album came out in May, van Dyk explained that he has seen dance music transcend political boundaries and recounted how Arab and Israeli friends bonded when they met on the Spanish clubbing island of Ibiza.
Van Dyk, speaking after the apparent ban, said he would not alter the album to sell it in the Arab world.
“I’m not bending down to something I totally dismiss,” he said.
“If there is friction between countries on a political agenda, that happens, sadly enough.
“But to pull the plug on art?” he asked. “Where is the future if artists cannot work together because of something like this?”