The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

February 26 – Will Faber at EthNoise!

Please join us tomorrow, February 26 for a paper and discussion with Will Faber. The paper is entitled “Acid Diversions: Race, Memory, and Mediation on the UK Dancefloor” Please find an abstract below.

As always, we will meet at 4:30pm in Goodspeed 205. Our workshop is open to the public.



The racialized borders of electronic dance music in Britain are routinely contested by musicians, dancers, and critics alike. Often framed as interlocking debates over subgenre, ethics, and history, I argue that these decades-long dialectics of inclusion and exclusion actively participate in the making and unmaking of race, both on and off the dance floor; and in turn help to assemble the very meaning of electronic dance music. Building on my ethnographic work with musicians and dancers in London, I engage their accounts of belonging, ownership, and value by focusing this paper on the ways that two relatively high-profile events are interpreted and mobilized by my interlocutors: the 25th anniversary celebration of Warp Records at Tate Britain in 2013, and Mark Leckey’s film installation Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore at the Serpentine Gallery in 2011.  Both events foreground the work of memory, trafficking in existing tropes of “1990‘s rave nostalgia” and playing across representations of individual and collective experience.  Furthermore, I discuss how these events intervene on existing histories of electronic dance music by creating critical environments in which musical practices often regarded as peripheral to electronic dance music- namely, reggae sound systems, northern soul, and working-class brass bands- are in turn placed at their narrative-historical center. Moving out from the space of the gallery and back to the studio and dancefloor, I conclude by considering the ways that groups of electronic dance music producers have in turn assembled complementary and competing ideas of their own musical past.

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