Madison Moore, culture maven extraordinarre, brings his course Nightlight as Art Form to the University of Richmond for the second time. And, really, what more could we ask for? Dr. Moore’s syllabus asks students:
Why do we go out at night? How do the rhythms and bass of dance music set the tone for the experience? And how is nightlife staged? This performance/cultural studies seminar explores the boundaries between nightlife, theater, and media. It is a cultural history of electronic dance music and nightclub culture in America and around the globe, from the cabarets of 1920s Harlem and the arrival of Detroit techno to raves in 1990s London and Berlin’s Berghain, perhaps the most important techno club of the 21st century.
The story of nightlife is always the story of changes in social mores, the story of subcultures and creativity, the story of changing attitudes towards race, gender, and sexuality—not to mention of the experimentation with and censorship of sex. But it is also the story of different kinds of artists who have used art, sound and space to create relationships between people. Some of the most exciting creative ideas were born in nightlife scenes and spaces, from music to street fashions and even performance art. Students come away from this course with a greater understanding of the political and cultural thrust of the dance beat as well as nightlife as an economy of creativity.
Digital America is following the critical and creative process of the students as they develop their final project: their own 21st century nightlife experience. Hayley Mojica is periodically checking in with the students as they toss around ideas and attempt to blend their own experiences with what they’ve learned in the class. Stay tuned…
Institution: University of Richmond
Course: Nightlife as Artform
Project: Various, but there will be a huge party at the end of the course.
Participants: The classroom divided into groups: Music, Venue, Budget, Theme
- David Grazian, On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).
- Burton Peretti, Nightclub City: Politics and Amusement in Manhattan (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).
- Tobias Rapp, Lost and Sound: Berlin, Techno and the Easyjet Set (Berlin: Innervisions, 2011).
- Simon Reynolds, Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave and Dance Culture (Berkeley: Soft Skull, 2012).
- Sarah Thornton, Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1996).
Venue: Solid progress was done on the venue front today. It’s pretty clear that they have decided to have their final project (i.e. a baller party) at Vanquish, a new space in Downtown Richmond. Some of the students were really excited to mold the persona of the venue for UofR and also use the event to develop a relationship with VCU.
Expect a reflection piece or two (or four) soon from some of Madison’s students on various Boiler Room DJs. Ultimately DigA hopes to explore through the course the evolution of nightlife and performance in this digital age.
Final update…May 6, 2014
Well, things don’t always work out. This process piece is one of those things. Many of the courses we follow in Digital America are experimental, so we never quite know where the process journey is going to take us. Sometimes the train never leaves the station. In any event, there was an event. So, we apologize that we couldn’t bring you the process that led to this extravaganza, but we can bring you these photos. College can be fun.