Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound

Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound

Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound

Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound


Experiencing disco, hip hop, house, techno, drum 'n' bass and garage, Discographies plots a course through the transatlantic dance scene of the last last twenty-five years. It discusses the problems posed by contemporary dance culture of both academic and cultural study and finds these origins in the history of opposition to music as a source of sensory pleasure.Discussing such issues as technology, club space. drugs, the musical body, gender, sexuality and pleasure, Discographies explores the ecstatic experiences at the heart of contemporary dance culture. It suggests why politicians and agencies as diverse as the independent music press and public broadcasting should be so hostile to this cultural phenomenon.


Why this book is rubbish

First, Discographies does not attempt to be a coherent account of dance music cultures, either historical or sociological. It does not tell the story of dance culture. Those who are looking for a clear and concise narrative history of British dance culture, from its pre-history in disco to its possible future, should refer to Matthew Collin’s excellent Altered State (1997), a tremendously thorough and insightful work. They should also read Simon Reynolds’ Energy Flash (1998), not only for the wealth of information on the historical events and happenings of dance culture both in the uk and in the United States, but for its brilliant and exhaustive account of dance music forms. Discographies does not attempt to offer any such musicological depth of approach.

For an insightful collection of reflections—historical, political and theoretical— on the milieu in which much of the more politically radical developments in uk dance culture have taken place, we refer readers to George McKay (ed.), DiY Culture (1998), a book that engages with many important issues, from Ecstasy to free parties to road protests to the legacy of anarchism.

Neither does this book offer a sociology or an anthropology of dance or dance music culture. As we explain in Chapter 1, we are sceptical as to the possibility of producing such a study. ‘Dance cultures’ are fluid, multifarious formations which will always exceed any attempt to map them. Excellent work is produced in the course of trying to do so, however, and we would recommend to anyone looking for such work Sarah Thornton’s Club Cultures (1995), Helen Thomas’ (ed.) Dance in the City (1997) and Mary Anna Wright’s (ed.) Dance Culture, Party Politics and Beyond (Verso, forthcoming).

This book does not concern itself greatly with the processes of economic, social or cultural production according to which dance culture is generated and reproduced. Excellent research is being carried out in this area by other people (see, for instance, David Hesmondhalgh’s essay in Soundings 5, Spring 1997) and we

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