Saturday (October 8) was International Cassette Store Day? Really? Sorry I missed it.
Actually, I’m not. I hold in my heart the absolute truth that cassettes are an old, outdated technology that deserves about as much nostalgic fondness as a wax cylinder from 1909. Anyone who insists on fetishizing these hateful things wasn’t around when they were the only choice for mobile listening. They sound awful, get jammed and warp and melt in the slightest bit of heat. While I understand that they’re still very popular in less-developed nations with harsh climates–Africa, South Asia, Indonesia–where they continue to serve an important purpose, there is no need to perpetuate the existence of cassettes in the First World.
(Note that I do make the distinction between a physical cassette and the notion of a “mixtape,” which is an anachronistic yet useful term from another era. It’s the same was asking someone to “dial a number” when phones haven’t had rotary dials for decades. A mixtape doesn’t actually involve tape; it’s just another word for a curated selection of music that can be shared. A playlist, in other words.)
Cassettes, though, still have their fans. Even as record stores close, outlets that specialize in cassettes are opening. Dupe Shop at 1185 Bloor Street West in Toronto is one such place.
Manager Malin Johnson had this to say to the Toronto Star: “Not only do we have local labels, but we have international labels represented and we’re getting more and more stuff in by the day….We kind of want to make this a hub of cassette culture. It’s kind of a cool, eclectic mix we’re creating.”
Cal MacLean, the owner of Shortstack Records at 256A Queen Street West in Toronto waxes nostalgic about the cassette format: “It really mean something to make one for someone, choose the songs and sequence them, make the artwork. I think cassettes are really rooted in that personal experience in a way that digital formats have had a hard time recreating.”
Fill yer boots, cassette people. I’ll be busy crate-digging for vinyl.