K, so I originally thought this blog post would be a short little summary of my very first May Day in Berlin, but when I sat down and wrote out my notes the next day, I produced pages and pages of text. So, this is my attempt to reduce everything down to a brief narrative with some pretty pictures. But I won’t keep you in suspense: I wasn’t teargassed or pepper-sprayed or tasered. Most of my day was actually spent wandering around the MyFest street-fair, dancing at a few open-air events, and hanging out with friends. Even the infamous “18Uhr Demo” was mostly peaceful—at least until the end. (Slideshow of 51 images at the end of this article.) (more…)
Better Know A District: Graffiti, Defacement, and the French Presidential Elections in the 20th Arrondissement of Paris
t just so happens that my stay in Paris coincides with the final week running up to the first round of the French presidential elections. As you might imagine, the news in Paris is flooded with coverage and speculation. There are very tight laws in France about giving equal media coverage to all election candidates, so mentioning any aspect of the election necessitates also mentioning all the other aspects in equal measure. This makes for daily newspapers that look like textbooks. For example, one small commuter newspaper that I picked up while waiting for a friend offered a “comparative table” of the campaign platforms of all ten candidates. This involved a ten-row table, with so many columns, that it ran over three pages (some sample columns: Immigration, EU Debt Crisis, Environment, Work and Labor, Housing, Crime and the Legal System)—all of it in tiny, tiny print.
As I was passing by the métro station of Lamarck-Caulaincourt (more…)
On Being Back in Town: Paris
eudi à jeudi, de retour à Paris. I haven’t been back to Paris in more than 1.5 years, which is pretty much the longest stretch of time I’ve been away from this city since the first time I came to do dissertation fieldwork in 2006. My last visit was really just a brief week-long visit (much like this one), so it’s really been 2.5 years or so since I’ve actually lived in this city.
This time, I was struck by how affectively small and un-intense my experience of return was. (more…)
The Post-Conferences Round-Up
oly 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:
Now at IASPM: Doing Nightlife Fieldwork Series
xciting news, folks! My series, “Doing Nightlife Fieldwork,” has been cross-posted by the IASPM-US blog with the title “Doing Nightlife Research.” That’s the US chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. I’m very excited to be seeing this circulating to a wider audience of popular music scholars, especially because I hope that this will prompt more of us to talk about how we do our research. Maybe there will be enough interest to generate a special issue on the topic…
In any case, here are the links to the series on IASPM-US Blog:
Doing Nightlife Research I: Introduction
Doing Nightlife Research II: Going Out
Doing Nightlife Fieldwork III: Interviewing
eep reading, folks! This is the last installment of the series on fieldwork methodology for ethnographic research in nightlife scenes—in other words, how to study a dance music scene without getting in the way. Last Thursday, I posted a brief list of problems that nightlife scenes pose to conventional modes of ethnographic research. Unsurprisingly, most of those issues had to do with the circumstances of EDM (electronic dance music) events themselves; and so, on the next day I wrote another article on “going out” for fieldwork, mostly detailing my own methods and giving a few bits of general advice. Todays post (and the final one in this series) covers a more conventional but no less important aspect of music ethnography: interviews! While the process of actually interviewing someone off-site (i.e., away from an EDM event) is pretty similar to other interviewing situations, there are some important things to keep in mind when (more…)
Doing Nightlife Fieldwork II: Going Out
uckily, I managed to find a bit of time today to write this second part to this series, so I won’t be saddled with guilt about making promises to write more on my blog and then not fulfilling them. Yay productivity! So, to review: yesterday I wrote “Doing Nightlife Fieldwork,” which claimed that there wasn’t enough helpful writing out there on how to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in nightlife scenes. It’s a problem, I think, that we don’t at least have a shared idea of what “best practices” would look like; this is an important ethical and institutional issue for EDM studies, for sure. I listed a few ways that nightlife settings throw a wrench in conventional ethnographic methods and invited other folks to write in the comments and/or write response-posts on their own blogs. The comments have already been great, and there’s talk of a few of my EDM-scholars-with-blogs buddies preparing their own posts. Today, I’m going to focus on one of the main elements of music ethnography: attending music events and engaging in participant-observation. I’ll describe how (more…)
Doing Nightlife Fieldwork
ouldn’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…)
2011 in review
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
espite 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.