Very possibly to a club near you, so stop dancing, warns Tony Naylor
Losing, rather than freeing, your mind has always been the priority for the average British clubber. Hey, if we wanted to learn anything we'd go to night school, right? "That's ridiculous," scoffs American cyber- culture cheerleader Douglas Rushkoff, whose new novel The Ecstasy Club, is part-celebration, part-criticism of a San Francisco rave organisation's experiments with drugs, spiritualism and technology. "Recreation isn't just waste time." Indeed, neo-psychedelic technology is finally overcoming its hippy baggage and is poised to infiltrate mainstream clubbing.

At Glastonbury, Vibe Promotions, in conjunction with Spirit magazine, built a space that was wired with pressure pads which visitors used to trigger looped images and audio material. Art installations nestled next to 3D games, while DJs were broadcast live over the Internet.

In October, the Vibe Bar - a bar, record shop, on-line services centre and multimedia performance space - will open in an old brewery complex in Brick Lane, east London. Many of the people using the bar, reckons Vibe's Alan Miller, will be disillusioned clubbers who increasingly find excitement in creative technology, rather than on the dance floor. Indeed, beyond the acid-fried pronouncements of various cyberhippies, new technology is proving invaluable to the cultural underground: Gaia, the Internet radio station, or Manchester's Dos (in club, where DJs' sets are Net-cast) are just two examples of how the technology can be used in a very DIY fashion. None of which is going to wipe out the primal need to dance in clubs, but will, according to Miller, return us to the roots of clubbing.

Crucially, interactive technology enables clubbers to rediscover the raw excitement of the rave ethos - "the crowd is the star". Digital Clubbing 2, part of Nottingham's Now 97 Arts Festival, is part of a "large-scale interactive audio visual machine". Clubbers will be able to use triggers and CD-Roms to send samples to the DJs and VJs, which they can then incorporate into their sets. For those who think technology is, by definition, dull, this is a wake-up call.

Do bear in mind, however, that the digital clubbing DJs still feel the need for an override facility - otherwise a few inebriated clubbers could ruin everything. Indeed, while the enthusiasts are mapping out the future, a large section of Britain's clubbers are still wondering whether they can be bothered to make sense of it all.

Douglas Rushkoff's `The Ecstasy Club' is published by Sceptre (pounds 10). The Vibe Bar web site can be found at ww.vibe-bar.co.uk/abraxas. Digital Clubbing 2 is at The Bomb, Bridesmith Gate, Nottingham on Friday 7 November.

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