locality

The Techno Jet-Set: Tourism, Mobility, and Money in Berlin’s EDM Scenes


Yes, there's a company dedicated to techno tourism. In fact, there are several. This was taken at the FLY BerMuDa party in early November, 2011

As I was conducting an interview a couple of nights ago, I realized that I didn’t have a publicly-accessible and easily-readable description of my current research project on so-called “techno-tourism.” If you read my article on the Spreepark party in Resident Advisor last fall, you probably already have an idea of what this project is about: the waves of travelers coming to Berlin for its nightlife scenes, many of them enjoying a kind of international mobility that used to be the exclusive domain of wealthy “jet-set” elites. The framing of my project is pretty much directly indebted to Tobias Rapp’s book (Lost and Sound: Berlin, Techno und the Easy Jet Set, 2010) and his coining of the word “EasyJetSet,” which highlights the similarities to and differences from an earlier era of luxury “jet-setter” tourism.

There’s a lot to be said about this project, about the earlier research that has been done on tourism, the economic and social factors, and so on, but here’s a concise summary of the most relevant points. (more…)

Checking in from Berlin


My name in graffiti on a mail box

I think that's my name as a graffiti tag, on some sort of electrical box on Sonnenallee in Neukölln.

OK, OK. I know that it’s been a while since I’ve checked in on here (since Grenada!) but here’s what I’ve been up to in the past month or so:

  • Travel to and from Grenada
  • Attempt to sell off most of my furniture and my car
  • Get my !@#$ing PhD diploma and attend Convocation with my parents
  • Pack my entire life into boxes, load it into a U-Haul truck while some guy yells at us about blocking the alleyway, and then drive it 8 hours to Canada
  • Store most of my crap at my parents’ place and try to shove the remaining articles into 3 pieces of luggage
  • Remind Canada’s bureaucracy of my continuing existence
  • Spend a week in Toronto seeing friends, visiting old haunts, and having meetings at my alma mater
  • Spend about 20 hours in 3 flights taking me from my hometown to Berlin-town. Screaming babies were a bonus feature
  • Eat roasted chicken from City Chicken (Neukölln) and get plastered on wine and Sekt before finally crashing on my friend’s floor
  • Make a deposit at my Hauptmieterin’s (sublessor) bank account and retrieve the keys to my apartment
  • Schlep my numerous bags to my new apartment and settle in
  • Begin the long process of announcing my presence to the German bureaucracy
  • Struggle endlessly to unlock my iPhone 4 so I can use a reasonably-priced German SIM card
  • Re-stock the kitchen
  • Oversee repairs to the bathroom of my new apartment, which seems to involve plaster and sweaty men (not the sexy kind)
  • Orchestrate and attend reunions with overlapping circles of friends (and attempt not to alienate anyone in the process)
  • Sleep, eventually.

And now I’m in Berlin. (more…)

Inkonsequent in Berlin: Golden Gate’s Reimund Maria Spitzer on Bar 25 and Gentrification


You folks might recall that I wrote a feature story for Resident Advisor a couple of months ago that provided a sketch of the circumstances around the Luna Land Party in Spreepark Plänterwald. The story was mostly about the bizarre history of Spreepark itself and the rising tension between the Berlin institution, Bar 25, and the American promoter, minimoo, that organized the party there. But another important part of the story was the gentrification going on in Berlin’s entertainment districts, particularly the way that urban redevelopment projects like Mediaspree were putting pressure on Berlin’s nightclubs. This pressure had put Bar 25 in the position of announcing its “final” closure for at least four years running; each time, somewhat miraculously, they managed to extend their lease for a bit longer. This fall, however, the bar was closed for good. A few days after my story was published on RA, YouTube video began to surface showing Bar 25’s premises, empty and razed to the ground. After years of holding massive closing parties and then reappearing in the spring, it seemed that people needed some visual evidence that Bar 25 was really gone.

But Bar 25 isn’t the only bar / club in that area that has been under pressure. (more…)

Party in Chicago? Survey Time!


Hey folks, do you party in Chicago? Are you (or were you) a part of any of Chicago’s Electronic Dance Music scenes? Well, then LMGM’s Super Funtastic Surveygasm is just the thing for you!

Well, OK, maybe it’s not as funtastic as the title suggests; and it’s probably not going to give you an orgasm (if it does, don’t tell me). But you will be helping me out and contributing to a better understanding of the Chicago scene(s). This survey is primarily background research for a magazine/journalism article I’ll be writing soon on “Clubbing in Chicago,” but I’m also planning to use the results as another source of data for my own dissertation research (for which Chicago is one of 3 main research sites). As an added plus for all those who participate, I’ll be publishing some of the preliminary data on this blog; also, on the survey form, you can opt-in to be contacted when I publish the results.

The survey is anonymous and should take no more than 15 minutes. So, grab a drink, make yourself comfortable, and click on the image of Mr. HappySurvey below to begin:

Link to Survey

Inconvenience and the Privilege of the Local DJ


Somewhere in Revaler Straße 99, someone is very pleased with himself

In this post, I want to make the somewhat counter-intuitive argument that there are some privileges to being a local DJ. In so doing, I’ll also explore how the privliges of being local intersect in surprising ways with vinyl/digital debates and ideas about expertise, labor, artistic value, authenticity, and so on. More broadly, I’ll be making some arguments about how privilege works in Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scenes and why this should make us re-think how we understand our commitment to the values of inclusiveness and equality that are part of the history of EDM scenes (if sometimes in contradictory ways). You might ask why I use the term “privilege” here instead of “advantage” or “benefit.” This is because the notion of privilege helps give me clarity about how the ease or difficulty of doing something can say something about the uneven distribution of access, opportunity, and resources in society. I’ll come back to privilege in a moment, but let’s begin first with brighter side of local-ness. (more…)

From Detroit/Montréal with love


Hey folks.

Yes, I know; I’ve been rather lax in updating my blog lately. I’ve pretty much disappeared off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks. I’ve had a houseguest with me in Chicago for a while, and then we set off to Detroit and later Montréal for various electronic music festivals (DEMF/Movement and Mutek, respetively). I’m hearing lots of great music and having lots of interesting encounters that will make for some very amusing reading sometime soon, but for now it’s all I can do to take some shorthand notes and keep going. As it is, I’m missing an experimental electronics concert to write this (I think I’ll be able to catch the last part of it). In the meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite pictures of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival / Movement.

At the TV Lounge

The "SHXT SHOW" party at the TV Lounge

San Fran Field Trip: Intimacy, Strangers, and Translocality


So this hardly counts as a full-fledged party review—certainly not like some of the mammoth ones I wrote on LuisInParis—but I just want to point to an interesting experience I had a few weeks ago.

Back around mid-March, I headed off to UC Berkeley for the meeting of the Cultural Studies Association. On the Tuesday before my departure, I posted a status update on my Facebook page, asking, “Who knows what’s up in the Bay Area? I’ll be there this weekend.” By the next Sunday morning, I was stumbling out of a techno/house loft party somewhere in the SoMa district of San Franciso with a cluster of brand new friends.

Shortly after I had posted that status update, a good friend of mine from the Chicago scene, who is a DJ and used to live in the Bay Area, sent a Facebook message to me and all of her techno-loving friends in the Bay Area. By the next day, (more…)