Agonistic festivities: urban nightlife scenes and the sociability of ‘anti-social’ fun

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Agonistic festivities : urban nightlife scenes and the sociability of ‘anti-social’ fun. / Garcia, Luis-Manuel.

In: Annals of Leisure Research, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2018, p. 462-479.

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@article{cb858890d4dd4a95b3d4d7dfefb4cdae,
title = "Agonistic festivities: urban nightlife scenes and the sociability of {\textquoteleft}anti-social{\textquoteright} fun",
abstract = "Both in music studies and in the anthropology of ritual, a commonplace narrative about music-driven events is that they {\textquoteleft}bring people together{\textquoteright}. And yet, few things elicit conflict as quickly as non-consensual exposure to the noisy revelry of others. The {\textquoteleft}pro-social{\textquoteright} assumption about collective music-making overlooks the myriad ways in which such articulations of group belonging and shared taste may antagonize those who are excluded—but not absent—from the scene of sonic conviviality. This paper examines the patterns of conflict that arise around urban nightlife events, attending to how liminal, nocturnal leisure practices can disrupt {\textquoteleft}normal{\textquoteright} urban life in ways that are often framed as {\textquoteleft}anti-social{\textquoteright} by detractors. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in several urban dance music scenes (Berlin, Paris, Chicago, London, Birmingham) as well as analyses of local media coverage, I highlight how urban nightlife scenes are surrounded by a halo of confrontational encounters that give rise to antagonistic social relations between groups competing over urban space and soundscapes. Revisiting and revising Gregory Bateson{\textquoteright}s notion of schismogenesis, which highlights the social and cultural productivity of conflict and contention, I argue that nocturnal music scenes do indeed generate social relations—but these relations often bind through antagonism rather than mutual affection or shared interests. How are we to understand, for example, the way in which nightclubs tend to cluster in poor, migrant neighbourhoods, where residents are less empowered to complain about disruption? Turning to the {\textquoteleft}agonistic{\textquoteright} politics of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, I offer a new reading of the {\textquoteleft}politics of fun{\textquoteright} by tracing the ambivalent political potential of leisure practices where pleasure and enjoyment entail the displeasure and discontentment of others.",
keywords = "nightlife , policing, gentrification, conflict, agonistics, politics, Berlin, London, United Kingdom , Germany, urban studies, electronic dance music",
author = "Luis-Manuel Garcia",
note = "The article is to be part of a special issue on 'Dark Leisure', edited by the organisers of the 'Dark Leisure and Music Symposium' (see below); Dark Leisure and Music Symposium, Dark Leisure and Music ; Conference date: 16-09-2016 Through 16-09-2016",
year = "2018",
doi = "10.1080/11745398.2017.1398097",
language = "English",
volume = "21",
pages = "462--479",
journal = "Annals of Leisure Research",
issn = "1174-5398",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Agonistic festivities

T2 - Dark Leisure and Music Symposium

AU - Garcia, Luis-Manuel

N1 - The article is to be part of a special issue on 'Dark Leisure', edited by the organisers of the 'Dark Leisure and Music Symposium' (see below)

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - Both in music studies and in the anthropology of ritual, a commonplace narrative about music-driven events is that they ‘bring people together’. And yet, few things elicit conflict as quickly as non-consensual exposure to the noisy revelry of others. The ‘pro-social’ assumption about collective music-making overlooks the myriad ways in which such articulations of group belonging and shared taste may antagonize those who are excluded—but not absent—from the scene of sonic conviviality. This paper examines the patterns of conflict that arise around urban nightlife events, attending to how liminal, nocturnal leisure practices can disrupt ‘normal’ urban life in ways that are often framed as ‘anti-social’ by detractors. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in several urban dance music scenes (Berlin, Paris, Chicago, London, Birmingham) as well as analyses of local media coverage, I highlight how urban nightlife scenes are surrounded by a halo of confrontational encounters that give rise to antagonistic social relations between groups competing over urban space and soundscapes. Revisiting and revising Gregory Bateson’s notion of schismogenesis, which highlights the social and cultural productivity of conflict and contention, I argue that nocturnal music scenes do indeed generate social relations—but these relations often bind through antagonism rather than mutual affection or shared interests. How are we to understand, for example, the way in which nightclubs tend to cluster in poor, migrant neighbourhoods, where residents are less empowered to complain about disruption? Turning to the ‘agonistic’ politics of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, I offer a new reading of the ‘politics of fun’ by tracing the ambivalent political potential of leisure practices where pleasure and enjoyment entail the displeasure and discontentment of others.

AB - Both in music studies and in the anthropology of ritual, a commonplace narrative about music-driven events is that they ‘bring people together’. And yet, few things elicit conflict as quickly as non-consensual exposure to the noisy revelry of others. The ‘pro-social’ assumption about collective music-making overlooks the myriad ways in which such articulations of group belonging and shared taste may antagonize those who are excluded—but not absent—from the scene of sonic conviviality. This paper examines the patterns of conflict that arise around urban nightlife events, attending to how liminal, nocturnal leisure practices can disrupt ‘normal’ urban life in ways that are often framed as ‘anti-social’ by detractors. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in several urban dance music scenes (Berlin, Paris, Chicago, London, Birmingham) as well as analyses of local media coverage, I highlight how urban nightlife scenes are surrounded by a halo of confrontational encounters that give rise to antagonistic social relations between groups competing over urban space and soundscapes. Revisiting and revising Gregory Bateson’s notion of schismogenesis, which highlights the social and cultural productivity of conflict and contention, I argue that nocturnal music scenes do indeed generate social relations—but these relations often bind through antagonism rather than mutual affection or shared interests. How are we to understand, for example, the way in which nightclubs tend to cluster in poor, migrant neighbourhoods, where residents are less empowered to complain about disruption? Turning to the ‘agonistic’ politics of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, I offer a new reading of the ‘politics of fun’ by tracing the ambivalent political potential of leisure practices where pleasure and enjoyment entail the displeasure and discontentment of others.

KW - nightlife

KW - policing

KW - gentrification

KW - conflict

KW - agonistics

KW - politics

KW - Berlin

KW - London

KW - United Kingdom

KW - Germany

KW - urban studies

KW - electronic dance music

U2 - 10.1080/11745398.2017.1398097

DO - 10.1080/11745398.2017.1398097

M3 - Article

VL - 21

SP - 462

EP - 479

JO - Annals of Leisure Research

JF - Annals of Leisure Research

SN - 1174-5398

IS - 4

Y2 - 16 September 2016 through 16 September 2016

ER -