Events

The Post-Conferences Round-Up


Magnolias blooming off of Washington Square, NYU Campus, during the IASPM/EMP 2012 conference.

Holy crapsticks! I’ve been away from LMGMblog for an inexcusable amount of time. I’ve been quite the busy bee, though. I got a few things published here and there, did some editing on a dissertation chapter that should hopefully turn into a journal article, gave two different papers at two conferences on either side of the Atlantic, and started a new research phase for my current “techno-tourism” project. Oh, and I saw Laurent Garnier play in both Berghain and Panorama Bar last month. I’ve been very busy.

So, here’s a more detailed list of what LMGM’s been up to these past two months, with relevant links and pretty pictures:

(more…)

Doing Nightlife Fieldwork


Kiki and Silversurfer @ Le Rex, Paris, 2007

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a book entitled, “How To Do Fieldwork in Nightclubs and Bars?”  Certainly, when I was working on my own dissertation, I wished that other nightlife-researchers would be more open about their methods and more generous about giving advice to new ethnographers of nocturnal scenes. To be honest, a fair number of nightlife-researchers have published some details about their methods; it’s usually tucked away discreetly in an appendix or in a section of the introductory chapter. But these brief methodological reflections often lack too much detail to be instructive and—frankly—I’m not always satisfied with their solutions to the problems of nightlife fieldwork. Despite all my griping, I have been guided by the methods of some nightlife researchers, such as Fiona Buckland in her book Impossible Dance: Club Culture and Queer World-Making (2002).

In any case, very few nightlife ethnographers actually describe their research methods in detail, even though the circumstances of nocturnal scenes often pose difficult challenges to conventional fieldwork methods. Just a few of these are: (more…)

Happy Calendar-Reboot!


Despite having just flown back from Canada two days ago, I’m already back into the nocturnal rhythms of Berlin. In fact, I used jet-lag to my advantage: I got home in the early morning, slept during the day, got up at 8pm, and then got ready for a night at Watergate (the Vakant + Dumb Unit label night). And then, the same routine the next day for the Final Friday night at Panorama Bar, with Margaret Dygas, Cassy, and Dinky (and Matthew Styles). Now, I’m making use of a brief pocket of quiet while my houseguest sleeps to post this message. In a couple of hours, we’ll have dinner, count down to midnight at a friend’s house, nap until 6am, and then head out to the insane Silvester party at Berghain/Panoramabar. The line-up features primarily the nightclub’s resident DJs, but there are also a few guests (e.g., Soundstream, Deetron) and even a few surprises (i.e., Andrew Butler of Hercules and Love Affair). The whole thing runs from Saturday midnight until late Monday, and will require a couple of cycles of dance+go home+nap+eat+dance.

It’s been interesting to see how the massive influx of tourists has impacted Berlin’s nightlife in these past days. Thursday night at Watergate involved a ridiculously long line (for a Thursday) and a crowd that seemed to be primarily populated by tourists (including tourists from other parts of Germany, mind you). I made the acquaintance of two guys from Munich, one from Beirut (Lebanon), one from Chile, and several American ex-pats (now living in Berlin). And, of course, there were French- and Italian-speakers everywhere, mostly making themselves noticeable because they can’t seem to resist the temptation to try to jump the queue for the door, the bathrooms, the bar, etc.

Friday at Panoramabar was similar but different: there were tons of tourists in the queue for the door, but proportionally less of them seemed to make it in—or, rather, only certain kinds of tourists seemed to make it past the bouncers. The queue was insanely long when we arrived around 1am (which was admittedly far too early for Berliners and part of the reason why the proportion of tourists was so high), running all the way back to where the taxis were. The wait would probably be 1.5-2 hours. I was with 3 friends, so I left two of them at the back of the line, and then I went to the door with one of my friends and approached the door. Since I’ve been something of a regular at the place, I was relatively confident that I could walk directly to the door and the doormen would wave me in, but I was less certain that I could bring in 3 other people. So, my strategy was to approach the door with one other person, and then ask if I could bring in two more people. As I expected, the doorman Andrej saw me and waved me in. “A quick question,” I said in German, “I still have two other friends stuck at the back of the line. Could I bring them in with me?” “Only two?” he said, sternly. “Yes, yes. Just two more people.” “OK, fine.” And, with that, I ran back to the far end of the line, picked up my other 2 friends, and went in. The rest of the night was too long and crazy to relate here, but suffice it to say that I met a lot of locals, non-local Germans, local ex-pats, frequent visitors, and tourists.

OK, time to go gird my loins! I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.

Lise Waxer and the Strange Histories of Good News


 

Lise Waxer was an ethnomusicologist of salsa music, respected and admired for her critically-acclaimed book tracing the development of salsa music, vinyl recordings, and memory in Colombia, entitled, The City of Musical Memory: Salsa, Record Grooves, and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia (Wesleyan, 2002). A year later, her book would be awarded the highest prize for a monograph (i.e., single-author book) in her discipline by the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), namely, the Alan Merriam Prize (2003). But Waxer was never able to receive her prize or the well-deserved recognition that came with it, because she died suddenly in the summer of 2002. That fall, at the meeting of SEM where she was also awarded the Merriam Prize, the Popular Music Section of SEM decided to establish an award in her honor: the Lise Waxer Student Paper Prize. To remember her pathbreaking work in the ethnomusicology of popular music, this prize sought “to recognize the most distinguished student paper in the ethnomusicology of popular music presented at the SEM annual meeting.”

Well, the good news is that I won the Lise Waxer Student Paper Prize this year. (more…)

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor


PHD: Pizza Hut Delivery in Lima, Peru. Note the image of a delivery boy on fire on the left…

Quick interruption in my dissertation-by-blog series to say: I’m a doctor! No, not the kind of doctor that can write a prescription and stick things into your orifices (although I suppose that depends on the context), but a PhD. I defended my dissertation on Tuesday morning, July 19th, 2011. It went well, tons of people showed up, and I wore this lovely new suit that I got tailored during my trip to Peru earlier this month; charcoal with violet pinstripes!

Afterwards, I went (more…)

On RA: Showdown in Spreepark (the messy politics of the Berlin scene)


Ferris Wheel at Spreepark Planterwald

Ferris Wheel at Spreepark Plänterwald

RA: Showdown in Spreepark

Hey folks, a few weeks back I mentioned that I would be writing a feature story for Resident Advisor on the Luna Land party that took place in late August. Well, here it is! It looks at the story behind the party and the messy “scene politics” of Berlin EDM at that moment. It includes discussion of the location itself (Spreepark, an abandoned amusement park), Bar 25, Minimoo (an event promoter from NYC), Berlin’s “post-tourism,” gentrification, and the controversy around the Luna Land party itself. Check it out!

Andarín, Front Door of Berghain

Andarín Gallardo: Sketches of Berghain


Continuing a recent trend of Berghain-themed posts, I wanted to draw some attention to the work of Andarín Gallardo, an artist and “travel junky” who recently posted a set of sketches about his first night at “the best club in the world.” Andarín gets his nickname from “El Andarín,” the brother of his great-grandfather, who went on a two-year journey on foot around Central America. And now, three generations later, a new Andarín is indulging his Wanderlust and recording his travels—most recently, in Berlin.

Yes, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing “the best club in the world,” but don’t forget that it DID actually get top billing by Resident Advisor (2008) and DJ Mag (2009). You can look at my earlier profile of Berghain/Panorama Bar for details, which is also how I found Andarín’s page. I noticed a spike in traffic to my Berghain profile from a particular website around Oct 16, and I followed that link to find that Andarín had linked to my profile as a verbal description of Berghain.

He, instead, presented a visual description. (more…)