Saturday, November 12, 2005

the politics of dance

so at approx 5pm yesterday i wrote this response to someone who emailed me about my zine, 'dance pig'. I thought it would be good to post it here because a) i was impresed that i could write something like this, given how sleep deprived i was. b) it helps to explain some of the politics behind the zine, & c) lots of people who dont participate in dance culture have asked me similar questions -this may offer them the beginnings of an answer ... cheers

hey there,

thanks for taking the time out to read my zine. Im gald you liked it :)

The dance scene is what i kinda grew up on. (or more like the queer alternative dance scene). Mmm, Pretty much everything in it has happened to me or someone else at one time of another, give or tke a few name changes, and alterations. So its kinda more personal than political - not that i really want to separate them (when isn't the personal political?) rather i just want to suggest that i didnt really want to make a definitive political statement.

I wanted to keep the politics implicit. The politics only become explicit through the act of interperetation by the reader. And as Freud noticed from any one text there are many times more interperetations that can be made. Any text is always a highly condensed work of other social, political and psychic texts. This is as true for lived experience as it is the writen word. Any experience is always a highly condensed product of social, political and psychic processes.

It was really good to hear about your take on the scene. I've had talks with friends about this before, and agree that people can partake in the scene as a bit an escapist venture, but this is a highly problematic concept. What i mean to say is who has the right (or ability) to draw the line in the sand so mark where fun ends and escapism begins?, If capitalism is so bad that people need to escape on occasion, is this nessasarily a bad thing? Is escapism really a threat to political action, or can they both exist simoultaneously?

I always find it interesting that escapism is always used in reference to pleasurable activity. Isn't pleasure allowed without some negative connotation or is there a serious need to apply a work ethic to time off the clock. I personally always thought that the true escapists were political individuals who undertake political action that does nothing - such as labor hacks, members of the DSP and people who donate money to charity. They know the system dosent work but they escape from any real form of comitment to social change, yet aleviate any guilt from their own concious by participating in half-arsed campaigns.

Clubing - dancing, meeting people, socialising, substance usage & altered states, a darkened room and loud music. people may find this a nice place to escape, but it is not the only thing they do there. People in these spaces tend to create. They create friends, new perspectives on life, new values that differ from the mainstream. Its a social space in which people can talk politics, they can be confronted with issues of race & sexuality. People can be incited to think - and unlike thinking at work - its on their terms.

What is produced is a sociality that is unlike the nuclear family, the taylorist work place, or the buracratic apparatus that Kafka detested. It is a place with the posibility of open connections. It is a sociality - a way of life - that offers people de-individualisation. I personally follow Fredrick Jamerson in believing that new socialities are a pre-requisite for any political struggle and vice versa. Social spaces - social interaction - shape the culture, politics and actions of the political struggle, and sometimes for the struggle the values and sociality of dance culture are more desirable than the values and sociality of work culture

mmm... i'm talking too much, i hope that made sense, thanks for reading


Anonymous said...

it can be a fine line between escapism and alternative liberated society. i like seeing the cirlced a's [anarhist symbol - its on one of their fluro banners] at club kooky. it makes me feel i'm dancing with fellow militants of the revolutionary struggle. wheras if i was at dcms where there's advertising images in the bathrooms, i just feel like another consumerist sucker. a simple display of a symbol can change one's whole reality. dancing is political. and i agree - we don't have to apply the protestant work ethic to pleasure and escapism. however i enjoy my escapes and pleasures so much more when i know there's some political consciousnous there [in a fun way - NOT a patronising way].

puppet said...

mmm...i really think its dangerous to reify escape. It should not be raised into an -ism. Its not a technical object or thoroughly defined concept. It is only a generalisation that explains social experiences in an incomplete way.

do you think there is such a thing as true escapism? can a person be completely oblivious of the very social circumstances that engenders them with the need to escape? maybe the little circled a's are just harder to see in some clubs cause an ad has been put over the top of them. It only takes a bit of scratching to find its still there.