crowds

Talking Culture, Money, and Music: Anti-GEMA Protests


The view from somewhere near the stage, back over Boxhagener Platz

Yesterday, there was yet another anti-GEMA demonstration held at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, just in front of the bar/club Stereo 33. There have been an ongoing series of these demonstrations in Berlin since at least late spring, but this event was interesting for how it mixed music and talk, as well as themes of culture and money.

For those of you who haven’t been living in Germany over the past year and haven’t been bombarded with (more…)

Techno and Teargas: My Very First First of May in Berlin


Kottbusser Tor

OK, 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…)

Chapter 4. Thickening Something: Music, Affect, and the Sense of the Social


Detroit Electronic Music Festival, 2010

Detroit Electronic Music Festival, 2010

Okay. It’s been nearly three months since my dissertation defense, two months since my graduation, and two weeks since I moved to Berlin. Things have been crazy busy, but I’m still determined to finish this series of chapter summaries. It’s a surprising amount of work to summarize this gigantic, sprawling thing as a series of “plain English” blog posts. Anyway, here comes the affect!

(NOTE: This is the seventh installment of a series where I summarize my dissertation through blog posts. You can find the inaugural post here.)

This chapter is about tracing the connections between intensity and togetherness. The full version of this chapter wades into a fair bit of theory, but I’ll try to keep things streamlined here. Essentially, this is how I go about tracing the connections: (more…)

Chapter 3. Liquidarity: Vague Belonging on the Dancefloor


Mutek, Montréal, 2010

Yes, I know that it’s been more than two weeks since I defended my dissertation, and yet this chapter-by-chapter series on my dissertation is not even halfway finished. This is partially due to the fact that I had to take care of post-defense revisions and re-submit a final draft to the university before an immovable deadline. But this is also partially due to the fact that I partied and relaxed and partied and relaxed for quite a few days after the defense itself. I regret nothing.

(NOTE: This is the sixth installment of a series where I summarize my dissertation through blog posts. You can find the inaugural post here.)

So, this chapter expands the analysis of intimacy from the previous chapter to the broader scope of nightclub crowds. Whereas the previous chapter thought about intimacy primarily as contact between a pair of strangers, this chapter focuses on the loose social bonds that hold together a crowd of strangers at an EDM event (a party, a nightclub, etc). I develop a concept that I call liquidarity (more…)

The Other Acknowledgements


A fairy-ring of mushrooms grew overnight on the lawn during the NEH Summer Institute at Wesleyan

During the preparation of the final, revised, post-defense version of my dissertation, I finally had to flesh out all of the “front matter” of my dissertation. The front matter usually includes things like an epigraph, a dedication, acknowledgements, a table of contents, lists of tables/figures/maps/etc., and an abstract of the dissertation. Writing the acknowledgements was surprisingly hard, and there were a lot of people, organizations, and things that I couldn’t acknowledge in a scholarly dissertation. But this is a blog, and I have considerably more freedom to shift between levels of formality and punch through layers of politics and politeness. So here are all the other things for which I am grateful, dissertation-wise. (more…)

Chapter 2, Part 2: Gender, Sexual Touch, and Rethinking Intimacy


Splendor in the Grass

Splendor in the Grass: the residue of pleasure in Lakeshore Park, Chicago

Although the first half of this chapter describes EDM events as intensely tactile spaces where there is a greater openness to touch, it’s not like everyone at a nightclub is hungry for touch—sexual or otherwise—nor is everybody all that tolerant of being touched. And yet, touch is everywhere at EDM events. How does that work? How someone manages this diversity of attitudes towards touch in a crowd of strangers is one of the more obscure aspects of EDM tactility, (more…)

Chapter 2, Part 1: Touching Strangers: Touch and Intimacy on the Dancefloor


Somewhere in Paris, 11eme arr., 2006

Back when I had just returned from my second year of fieldwork in Paris, I had this great moment of short-circuited intimacy. I was at Souvenir#3 warehouse party (with Seuil headlining), when a woman came up and introduced herself as a Lola, a friend of some friends I had in Chicago. We talked briefly, and then went back to dancing. More than twelve hours later, as I was leaving the after-party, our mutual friend asks me and Lola if we had met each other. Lola replied, “Of course! We’re best friends,” and we gave each other a big hug and a peck on the cheek. When I wrote about it on my old blog a few days later, (more…)