Is Dance Music a Subculture or Has it Now Become a Culture in its Own
Classically subcultures define themselves as 'other' and 'subordinate'
to 'the dominant' culture. Many cultural theorists such as Stuart Hall
and Dick Hebdige have been chiefly concerned with the ways in which
subcultures subvert and pose a resistance to the 'established order'
through their expressive dress codes and rituals. Dance music seems to
depart from these theories of youth culture, since it has not
established its own identifiable dress code nor consciously set itself
apart from the wider culture.
Today dance music is primarily focussed around clubs, where ...view middle of the document...
"There are no barriers within
Dance " (H. Rietveld, 1991).
As it appears that Dance music embraces a wide variety of cultures and
lifestyles, the diversity within the genre itself starts to reflect
this. Various sub-genres such as Happy House, which is uplifting and
upbeat, Techno which is ambiguously futuristic, Ambient is calming,
and Darkside (which was an aspect of 'drum and bass' which developed
into Jungle) could be said to express a Dystopian mood. Mark Fisher,
in his article "Hello darkness, our new friend" has written about
Dark-side. Darkside borrows its ontology from horror and science
fiction, and layers it over an extremely fast and manic beat. The
sounds it borrows suggest casual homicide, ultra-violence, and
survivalist individualism. This music sounds as if it comes from the
near-future worlds of cyber-punk writers such as William Gibson.
Darkside and Jungle are largely popular amongst the black communities,
and through this, the genre is broken down yet again into Carnival and
Drum and Bass.
Dance can essentially be seen as collage, on many levels, and Collage
is nothing new to youth culture. Dick Hebdige in his classic text
"Subculture and the Meaning of Style", drew attention to the breakdown
of image and referents presented to us by punk, but instead of collage
he used the anthropological term 'Bricolage'. 'Bricolage' is roughly
be translated as artisan-like inventiveness. Hebridge likened
Bricolage to early surrealist experiments with collage and
spontaneity. "It is conventional to call 'monster' any blending of
dissonant elements... .I call 'monster every original inexhaustible
Hebridge describes these acts of Bricolage as 'subversive practices'.
He also argues that the 'subculture punk bricolages together bits and
pieces of previous subcultural worlds to 'disrupt and reorganise
meaning' and it is this activity which makes punk subversive, for
example the use of rips and safety pins in punk dress codes which were
put together with school uniforms.
But his analysis of the subversive activity of Bricolage is confined
to visual signifiers. In Dance music, the concept of 'Bricolage' could
be applied to the techniques of collage/sampling. Dance music
effectively destabilises the listener's values and common sense
perceptions, and establishes the basic premise of surrealism so much
so that a new surreally would emerge through the subversion of common
sense. I think these oppositions are to some extent broken down in a
Dance, as the music, the lights and the atmosphere conspire to take
the Raver out of the restraints of body and fixed identity to a new,...