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Disco’s Revenge- House Music’s Nomadic Memory 79-449-1-PB

Disco’s Revenge- House Music’s Nomadic Memory 79-449-1-PB

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05/12/2014

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Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
 (): –ISSN - © D ://j..
Disco’s Revenge:
House Music’s Nomadic Memory
Hillegonda C. Rietveld
London South Bank University
 Abstract
Tis article addresses the role o house music as a nomadic archival institution,constituted by the musical history o disco, invigorating this dance genre by embracing new production technologies and keeping disco alive through a rhizomic assemblageo its aective memory in the third record o the DJ mix. Tis exploration will beillustrated through a close analysis o a specic DJ set by a Chicago house music producer, Larry Heard, in the setting o Rotterdam, 2007, in which American housemusic is recontextualised. Rening the analysis through close attention to one o the tracks played during that particular set, Grand High Priest’s 2006 “Mary Mary”,the analysis shows how DJ and music production practices intertwine to produce a plurality o unstable cultural and musical connections that are temporarily anchored within specic DJ sets. Te conceptual ramework draws on the work o Deleuze,Guattari and Foucault, as well as Baudrillard’s sense o seduction, with the aim tointroduce a uid notion o mediated nomadic cultural memory, a type o 
counter-memory
, enabled by the third record and thereby to playully re-imagine the dynamicunction o a music archive.
Keywords
: house music, DJ practices, third record, cultural memory, nomadology
Dr. Hillegonda Rietveldis Reader in Cultural Studies at London South Bank University, UK, whereshe teaches and supervises topics in sonic culture. Her publications address the development andexperience o electronic dance music cultures and she is the author o 
Tis Is Our House: House Music,Cultural Spaces and echnologies
. She has been involved proessionally in club and DJ culture since1982, when she moved rom Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to release her rst electronic recording as part o Quando uango, or Factory Records in Manchester, UK.
Feature Article
 
Rietveld
|
Discos Revenge5
Each successive technology
 
has enhanced the signicance o older culturalarteacts by allowing them to be joined to others that clariy and embellish them...—Straw (2007: 11)Despite its demise, disco would live on in numerous other dance orms.—Brewster and Broughton (2006: 202)House rose rom the remnants o disco.—Garratt (1998: 45)
Introduction
Drawing on house music as a case study 
, this article will conceptualise how a DJ-based music genre may be understood as a nomadic archival institution. Te analysis will particularly appropriate Deleuze’s political concept o the institution (1989) and Deleuzeand Guattari’s concept o 
nomadology
(1986). Assuming that music genres retain rhizomicmemory traces o the genres that are part o its ormation, house music will be exploredas constituted by disco’s musical legacy, invigorating this dance genre and keeping it alivethrough a continuation o its aective memory. In this, house music may be regarded asa specic act o deance, arising in Chicago rom the ashes o the “ocial” destructiono disco (Rietveld 1998). By attempting to circumvent
traditionalist 
linear history, a typeo 
counter-memory
(Foucault 1984) is produced that aims to challenge stilted notions o house music.
1
 Te practice o the DJ draws on archived banks o pre-recorded music to create a relevantmix that continuously recontextualises these recordings. Trough the creation o the thirdrecord in the DJ’s mix, the recombination o (at least) two recordings, as well as a revisiono disco’s archival canon, house music may be perceived as a uid musical archive, operating between the mediation o recorded musical production and lived cultural memory. Withinthis process, (underground) disco’s ragmented aesthetic o an empowered marginalisedcommunity, arguably rst established within America’s version o racism, homophobia andeconomic division, is reworked.In this context, I argue that house music has produced a dance musical memory o every-night empowering pleasure, which is urther mapped in house music’s increasingly complex,
 spiral 
and
rhizomic 
genealogy. Although the role o disco elements in the ormation o housemusic is o interest here, I do not wish to settle the roots o house music. Instead, Beckord(2006: 5) suggests with reerence to the work o Deleuze and Guatari: “Unlike roots that
 
Dancecult 2(1)6
separate into segments and break, rhizomes rupture or shatter at any given point but willstart up again at their old or new point, representing a process o ‘de-territorialisation’ and‘re-territorialisation’”. In relation to the third record, I will interpret “de/reterritorialisation”as processes o de/recontextualisation in which one sound recording makes comment onthe next in a new and sometimes unexpected manner due to the various cultural spaces in which the mix is presented.
Mutating Disco
During its development throughout the 1970s
, the disco dance oor gained itscelebratory mood, in part, rom civil rights victories (Fikentscher 2000; Rietveld 2003;Easlea 2004; Shapiro 2005). By the end o that decade, as disco shifed out o the marginalisedculture o night clubs into broad daylight and threatened the livelihoods o established rockradio DJs, a well documented backlash to its overwhelming success nally pushed discoback underground. Tis process culminated in the televised blowing up o disco records inChicago’s Comiskey Park, a White Sox baseball stadium, in 1979 (Lawrence 2003; Rietveld1998). In its renewed marginalised cultural position, dance culture returned to the secrecyo night culture, a creative space outside the spectacle o the major music industry, enabling it to develop relatively unettered in new directions. Eleven years later, in 1990, Chicago’smythologised
2
house DJ Frankie Knuckles reected that,Tose guys declaring disco being dead actually was kind o like a blessing in disguisebecause it had to turn itsel, because it ‘d just gotten too much. . . . Could you imagine what would it be like, right now? ugh—all that polyester—I couldn’t stand it (Savage1990).Tis reerence to polyester is a camp, ironic, yet loaded connotation that points to articialtextile used in the late 1970s in the production o ared “smart” trousers and tight shirts,avoured by transnational disco crowds—as illustrated by the popular 1977 movie
Saturday Night Fee
r.
3
Te term was used as shorthand or the prolieration o “ake” disco styledmusic, rom pop to symphonic re-workings, manuactured by a cynical music industry eagerto ollow the latest trend. In this one short remark, house music and underground discoare constructed as culturally authentic, as opposed to an industry-led disco craze that had“gotten too much”. As house music emerged during the early to mid-1980s, its distinctiveelectronic take on disco’s aesthetic provided a discursive nocturnal space in Chicago to aclientele that perceived itsel as excluded by American society: “the people who had allenrom grace” (Pro Funk, in Cosgrove 1988: 4). In the words o DJ Frankie Knuckles, “House. . . it’s not actually disco’s revival, it’s disco’s revenge” (Savage 1990).As an important aspect o disco music, the incessant groove has been orged within thebasic unctional DJ mix to keep dance music going all night long. In adapting popularmusic to the disco dance oor during the mid-1970s, New York’s disco DJs started to re-edit existing records to create specialist disco mixes. Tese would be longer than the usual3-minute pop single, repeating the energetic parts
4
and making the tracks DJ-riendly or

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