Brits to drop 'embarrassing' dance music award

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The Brits, the Oscars of the UK recording industry, has ditched an award that was an "embarrassment" to the world of dance music.

The Brits, the Oscars of the UK recording industry, has ditched an award that was an "embarrassment" to the world of dance music.

After 10 years, the Brits organisers announced yesterday that they were dropping the "best dance act" category. Over the past decade it has celebrated the likes of Basement Jaxx, Fat Boy Slim, the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers. In its place, the Brits committee has introduced a new prize recognising the "exceptionally vibrant live music scene in the UK".

Pauline Haldane, the editorial director of the dance-music magazine Mixmag, said the dance award's credibility was undermined in 2003 when it was won by the mainstream pop act, Sugababes.

"For dance music, the Brits has always been a slight embarrassment. In 2003, Sugababes won and they're pop, they're nothing to do with dance," said Ms Haldane. "The whole industry said 'What the f*** happened there?' It was a complete embarrassment. They don't really understand the style of music."

This year, the dance act Basement Jaxx won the award for the second time. The group's manager, Andrew Mansi, was unfazed by the news that the category is to be scrapped. "It barely registers on our radar," he said.

There has been much talk of the decline of dance music, with clubs such as Cream in Liverpool and Sheffield's Gatecrasher forced to reduce in size due to falling attendances, and the closure of the dance magazines Muzik and Ministry, published by the owners of the London club Ministry of Sound.

But Andy Roberts, the group programme director of Emap Radio, who oversees the dance music station Kiss FM, believes dance no longer needs its own category as it has become part of the mainstream. "It's not highlighting a problem or trying to put another nail in the coffin of dance music. Dance was a small category 10 years ago, but now it has reached mass appeal."

Malik Meer, the assistant editor of New Musical Express and the editor of Muzik before it folded, said it was probably time for the Brits to change the award. "Music changes, it goes through various cycles, and right now there is probably more need to recognise how much great live music there is out there."