When I was a boy, I had a weekly subscription to the ‘Dandy’ comic; for me, this was an act of wilful rebellion. Whilst my friends obsessed about Dennis The Menace and the Beano, I strove to be different.
Back then, I was oblivious to the alternative meaning of ‘Dandy’. But, student days exploring Wilde, Baudelaire, Warhol and pantomime put me right. The definition is still hard to nail. Dandyism is a much-maligned way of life but it’s hard to see beyond this text from Camus in L’homme Revolte.
“The dandy can only play a part by setting himself up in opposition. He can only be sure of his own existence by finding it in the expression of others’ faces. Other people are his mirror. A mirror that quickly becomes clouded, it’s true, since human capacity for attention is limited. It must be ceaselessly stimulated, spurred on by provocation. The dandy, therefore, is always compelled to astonish. Singularity is his vocation, excess his way to perfection.”
Many of my friends might argue that the above describes me? It’s certain that the compulsion to astonish and to place myself in opposition has been prevalent since I read the ‘Dandy’ as a boy.
German Electro artist, Honey Tower, has just released an 8-track concept album referencing literary, philosophical and historic manifestations of distinct Dandyism. She draws influence and inspiration from stories of the past, playing with musical styles in an attempt to astonish the listener.
I’m particularly drawn to the story of tragic dandy, Franz Reichelt, who was so convinced of the strength of his parachute-onesie that he jumped in it from the Eiffel Tower in 1912. His equipment failed and Reichelt plummeted to the floor in full glare of friends and press. Some ridicule his stupidity (and he was without doubt foolish) but I’m more impressed by his excess, his misplaced confidence and his singularity.
Across the 8-tracks on Honey Tower’s album, there’s much going on. You’d dance to this at a club without giving the subject much thought and listen to this at home whilst fully considering the content. It’s intelligently dark dance music, erudite electro and techno that teaches. It’s a perfect way in to the weekend.
I’ve got my onesie and I’m off to Paris. Who’s coming?