Dance Floor Reverberations: Affect and Experience in Contemporary Electronic Dance Music
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In recent years, electronic dance music (EDM) and dance music culture have gained immense popularity. This thesis looks at EDM’s contemporary cultural landscape and what changes this popularity has brought about. While these divergences distinguish mainstream EDM from both current and historical examples, they also highlight fundamental practices and cultural features. From field observations gathered at a variety of venues, (both mainstream and underground) it is clear that, while they all share this basic set of practices, the performances that emerge are vastly different. In part, this thesis revisits traditional conceptions of electronic dance music, and particularly the suggestion that audience members mindlessly submit themselves as a collective whole to the music. Instead, I suggest that the audience is actively engaged in the production of experience by participating together in an enacted performance. Understanding EDM at the level of individual experience does not undermine the significance of collective experience; rather, I suggest collectivity occurs through stranger intimacies between co-performers. By using this phenomenological perspective, differences between spaces can be seen as variations on a shared set of practices and queer history. The final element I consider is mainstream EDM festival culture, how it deviates from other spaces, and how it fits within the broader cultural landscape. While distinctions are clearly evident, I argue that it still operates through the same basic performance framework. I illustrate that EDM festivals operate through neoliberal economic structures, and it appeals to the audience by evoking neoliberal ideologies.
Johnson, Christopher (2015). Dance Floor Reverberations: Affect and Experience in Contemporary Electronic Dance Music. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from