MAC351 Dance music culture - moral panics, hegemony and raving

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Information about MAC351 Dance music culture - moral panics, hegemony and raving

Published on December 8, 2008

Author: rob_jewitt



Slides used in the MAC351 lecture at the University of Sunderland

Dance M usic Culture: M oral panics, hegemony and raving MAC351 1

MAC351 Dance Music Cultures 2

 Intro  Hegemony  Brief history of dance  Moral Panics & Criminal (in)Justice  Mainstreaming: Music & Drugs  Leah Betts: A Moral Panic?  Moral Panics Revisited  Conclusion 3

Intro  “The British state has a long history in regulating pleasures associated with parties. A fear seems to exist of the unregulated body that dances and is intoxicated … It is therefore not surprising that the acid house parties, that heady mix of house’n’E dance events in 1988, were followed by various moral panics” (Rietveld, 1998: 253-4) 4

 Rave (1988-1993):  Altern8, Spiral Tribe, System 7,  Praga Kahn, Lil Louis, D Mob  Nu Rave (2006-7):  Shit Disco, Klaxons, New Young Pony Club,  Revl9n, Black Strobe, etc 5

Hegemony (Gramsci) A process via which the dominant class in society not only RULE a society but LEAD it through ‘moral and intellectual leadership’. Dominant ------------------------------- Subordinate Incorporation ------------------------ Resistance  “compromise equilibrium”   negotiation 6

History  1988 and 1993 = Acid House & Raves  ‘Making its public debut in this country in 1988 in the shape of “acid house” parties held in warehouses, fields and clubs, its illicit status quickly increased until it found its way into legal club venues in the 1990s as the “rave” scene’ (Henderson, 1993: 121) 7

2 main influences:   American club culture and its influence on Balearic beat (Ibizia) The popularity of the drug ‘ecstasy’ (MDMA) 8

History (1985-87)  Origins (mid 80s):  UK dance music rooted in black musical style  Chicago ‘house’ music (gay)  Detroit ‘techno’ (straight)  Spanish influence  Ibizia  European avant-garde pop  Kraftwerk (late 70s) 9

K features: ey  Blend mixing & beat matching (Chicago: late 1970s)  Balearic eclecticism (Ibiza: early 1980s)  Electronic mode of production:  using synthesizers,  drum machines,  sequencers,  samplers,  MIDI computers (Kraftwerk: 1970s; Giorgio Moroder /Donna Summer: 1977) 10

 House music in the UK:  1986: Mike Pickering & Graeme Park (importing Chicago house records)  1987: Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold & Nicky Holloway (visit Ibizia)  Shoom, Future, Spectrum, The Trip, Hacienda, etc 11

History (1988-1993)  1988: second “Summer of Love”  Ecstasy (or “E”), warehouse parties, outdoor raves.  Release of House Sounds of Chicago Vol 3  1990: M25 orbital raves 12

 The DJ – no longer passive “record player”  “The most celebrated DJs are often involved in re-mixing other artist’s recordings, providing a variety of interpretations of existing material. From the production side of studio work to composing new tracks themselves is a small step which many DJs are able to take.” (Langlois, 1992: 230) 13

 Performer hierarchy & consumer – initially no clear  Growth of DJ-specific fanbase  Sasha (@ Shelleys): “son of God”  International residencies 14

Organisation  Info on a “need to know” basis  Secretive / underground:  subcultural capital (Bourdieu)  Threats from police raids  Flyers with numbers for automated phone messages and meeting points 15

 “While subcultural refusals have been traditionally effected through the statements of self-expression and the displays of alternative identity, Acid house has relinquished this ground … The strategy of resistance to the sense of identity necessitates an escape from the (media) gaze, as, unlike previous subcultures which remain ‘hiding in the light’ (Hebdige, 1988: 35), a whole subculture attempts to vanish.” (Melechi, 1993:38) 16

 Huge profits for rave organisers (£50000 per time)  ‘the biggest youth subculture that Britain had ever seen’ (McDermott et al, 1993: 25)  1992:  UK club market annual turnover: £2 billion  raves worth a further £1.8 billion (Thornton, 1995: 15; Henderson, 1993) 17

Moral Panics & Criminal (in)Justice Identify problem simplify Authorities respond stigmatise Media campaign for action 18 ‘Moral Panic’ (Stan Cohen: 1972)

 Mods & Rockers – Clacton 1964  Media reports on youth culture = ‘folk devils’  1980s & ‘acid house’ – MDMA / ‘E’  Not a routinely highly visible subculture 19

Early media attention was unusually positive  Quickly turned negative:   “Killer Cult”  “In the grip of E”  “Rave to the Grave”  "Junkies flaunt their craving by wearing T-shirts sold at the club bearing messages like 'can you feel it?' & 'drop acid not bombs'" (The Sun, Aug 17th, 1988) 20

 1989: BBC ban all records with the word ‘acid’ in them  June 24th 1989, Midsummer Night Dream Party at White Waltham airstrip in Berkshire, organised by Sunrise  11000 people attend 21

Midsummer Night Dream Party  ‘a façade for dealing in drugs’,  ‘a cynical attempt to trap young people into drug dependency under the guise of friendly pop music events’ Daily Mirror (June 26th, 1989) 22

Criminal (in)Justice?  Public  no Entertainments Act (1982) licence, private functions  Private Places of Entertainment Act (1967)  private function making profit needs licence 23

 North West Kent police, Chief Superintendent Ken Tappenden  Pay Party Unit  ‘When we started to tell MPs and the Home Office what was really going on, they wouldn’t believe it. It was always denied by everyone, including the government’  (Collin, 1998: 107) 24

 ‘These were nice kids – my son, your son’  ‘We did a sweep of the field after they’d gone, you could see the packets of drugs all over the place. Most of the kids were spaced out’ 25

July 1990: Police given new powers - MP Graham Bright's Entertainment's (Increased Penalties) Bill 1990 passed in Parliament without opposition - Fines raised from £200 for unlicensed parties to £20,000 and 6 months imprisonment - Equipment confiscation 26

 Tony Colston-Hayter campaigns to extend licensing hours beyond 3am.  February 1990: ‘Freedom to Party’ rallies in Trafalgar Square and Manchester. 27

Castlemorton 1992 •Organised by Spiral Tribe •40,000 attended •Largest UK rave 28

Criminal Justice Act (1994)  Raves targeted by authorities  Sections 63, 64, 65 and 66  ‘a gathering on land in the open air of 100 or more persons (whether or not trespassers) at which amplified music is played during the night (with or without intermissions) … and … "music" includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.’ 29

 Police had power to arrest if:  suspect 2+ people are preparing a rave  suspect 10+ people waiting for a rave  100+ attending a rave  Section 65 lets any uniformed officer stop & redirect any person s/he believes may be on their way to a rave within a 5 mile radius  failure to comply leads to maximum fine of £1000. 30

 Most visible victims of the bill:  New Age  New Travellers & road protesters offences were made:  trespassory assembly’  ‘aggravated trespass  and ‘trespass with intent to reside’ 31

 Conversely had effect of politicising large section of youth culture  July 1994 protests outside Downing Street  Riots in Hyde Park 32

 Musicians helped mobilise population (Auterche, Orbital, Prodigy, etc)  “How can the government stop young people having a good time. Fight this bollocks”  (sleeve notes Music for the Jilted Generation) 33

Mainstreaming: Music & Drugs  By 1995 rave culture enters mainstream = dance culture  Becomes standard music policy in most clubs  Success:  Cream, Ministry of Sound, Radio 1, Top of the Pops  “E Generation” or “Chemical generation”  Drug prices fall with demand – E’s:  £10-15 in 1994 >> under £10 in 1996 >> less than £1 in 2001-present 34

Leah Betts: A Moral Panic?  Death: November 1995  18th birthday party at parental home in village of Latchington.  Parental supervision:  Father (ex-police)  Mother (nurse)  “Just say no!” 35

Youths & drug use Evil drug: E Identify problem simplify Inquest Authorities into respond death stigmatise Peddling poison to kids Media campaign for action Press response 36

 Breakdown in traditional moral panic framework after inquest results  ‘Pure’ MDMA – not poison  “Water intoxication” – osmotic pressure sucked blood into brain and made it swell  Lord Justice verdict – ultimate responsibility lay with Leah herself. 37

 no longer possible to simplify the cause & effects of drug use in society  ‘innocent’ death renders it impossible to rely on traditional boundaries between deviance & normality  huge shifts in perception regarding acceptability, via mainstreaming of dance music culture 38

Moral Panics Today? 39

Moral Panics Revisited  3 distinct moral panics working in tandem: 1. 2. 3. Raves Ecstasy New Age Travellers 40

New Age Travellers  Counter-cultural connotations  Mixed with the mainstream:  Free festivals (Glastonbury pre 2000)  Peace festivals (Greenham Common 1981 onwards),  Road protest (Twyford Down 1992-4)  Animal rights campaigns 41

‘Battle of the Beanfield’ (1985) 42

‘Battle of the Beanfield’ (1985) 43

John Major (1992)  "Society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less. New age travellers? Not in this age! Not in any age!" 44

Overall  Raves were institutionalised  Ecstasy demonised in principle but condoned in practise  New Age Travellers/protestors were suppressed  Mainstreaming of drugs - incorporated into culture  Suppression of large outdoor illegal events 45

Conclusion Many attempts by the state to intervene in youth cultures.  Dance music is a diverse international culture: eclectic melange of styles and forms of expression. Contains the most visible aspect of drug use since the counter culture of the 1960s.  State & media attempts to repress/criminalise this culture = unanticipated widespread acceptance of dance music culture & drug use.  Positive outcomes? Recognition that drug use is part of everyday life for some groups = plethora of forums re: safety information.  46

             Sources A. Bennett, 2001, Cultures of Popular Music, Maidenhead: Open University Press. S. Cohen, 1987, Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers – 3rd Edition, Oxford: Basil Blackwell M. Collin, 1997, Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House, London: Serpent’s Tail. Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994, ( S. Garrat, 1998, Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture, London: Headline. C. Kempster (ed.), 1996, History of House, London: Sanctuary. T. Langlois, 1992, ‘Can you feel it? DJs and house music culture in the UK’, Popular Music, 11 (2): pp 229-38. A. Melechi, 1993, ‘The ecstasy of disappearance’ in S. Redhead (ed.), Rave Off: Politics and Deviance in Contemporary Youth Culture, Aldershot: Avebury. K. Murji, 1998, ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy: Drugs, Media and Morality’ in R. Coomber (ed.), The Control of Drugs and Drug Users: Reason or Reaction?, Harwood Academic Publishers ( S. Reynolds, 1998, Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture, London: Picador. H. Rietveld, 1998, ‘Repetitive beats: free parties and the politics of contemporary DiY dance culture in Britain’ in G. McKay (ed.), DiY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain, London: Verso. J. Toynbee, 2000, Making Popular Music: Musicians, Creativity and Institutions, London: Arnold. S. Thornton, 1995, Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital, Cambridge: 47 Polity Press.

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