Club Cultures: Boundaries, Identities and Otherness

Club Cultures: Boundaries, Identities and Otherness

Club Cultures: Boundaries, Identities and Otherness

Club Cultures: Boundaries, Identities and Otherness


This book explores contemporary club and dance cultures as a manifestation of aesthetic and prosthetic forms of life. Rief addresses the questions of how practices of clubbing help cultivate particular forms of reflexivity and modes of experience, and how these shape new devices for reconfiguring the boundaries around youth cultural and other social identities. She contributes empirical analyses of how such forms of experience are mediated by the particular structures of night-clubbing economies, the organizational regulation and the local organization of experience in club spaces, the media discourses and imageries, the technologies intervening into the sense system of the body (e.g. music, visuals, drugs) and the academic discourses on dance culture. Although the book draws from local club scenes in London and elsewhere in the UK, it also reflects on similarities and differences between nightclubbing cultures across geographical contexts.


The homo aestheticus is a virtuoso of the ‘sense of possibility’ and
virtualisation. (Welsch 1997: 15)

Sceneries of clubbing culture

Back in 1995, Franco Bianchini spoke of the ‘relative underdevelopment of urban night-life in Britain’ compared to other European cities (1995: 123). According to Bianchini, the development of night-life culture was inhibited by the monofunctional British town centres dominated by shops, offices and physical structures not particularly conducive to walking the city; by poor public transport provision at night; by the temporal constraints of the licensing hours and a leisure lifestyle that was predominantly home-based (ibid.). More than a decade later the landscape of night life in many British town and city centres hardly matches this dire picture of the past.

Although the oldest club of the Mediterranean island Ibiza goes back to the early 1970s, it was only in the late 1980s, when British DJs who had visited the island tried to recreate the atmosphere of all-night clubbing and dancing on the drug ecstasy (MDMA) in their home country. the so-called ‘Summer of Love’ in Ibiza 1988 laid the grounds for the acid-house and rave culture movement in Britain. Rave’s popularity and notoriety grew with the moral panics spun around the drug ecstasy in the early 1990s. Furthermore, technological advancements allowed an ever-wider group of people to engage in music production and DJing. For a couple of years underground rave scenes staged unlicensed parties in disused warehouses and squats, open-air sites like airport hangars or in countryside locations. These scenes thrived outside the established bars and discotheques and circumvented the usual standards of regulation. After the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) however, which clamped down on the rave scene, dance culture in Britain returned to licensed venues in the cities. Since then it has evolved into a significant sector of the cultural and entertainment economy. Led by new high-capacity and wellequipped super-clubs, the bar and club scene expanded in nearly all major uk cities throughout and beyond the 1990s. Apart from London, cities such as Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol and Sheffield all have vibrant night-life and music cultures. What once was mainly regarded as an object of regulation and containment was . . .

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