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It’s likely that you have a clear idea of what constitutes nightlife. Images you associate with ‘nightlife’ are probably stills from bars, clubs and partying. It’s a grounded concept for anyone who has lived in a metropolis, or even watched their fair share of cinema.
However, this general feeling-of-a-nightlife essence lacks the direction I’m looking for. With the intention of setting content parameters for Ammeter, something I’ve defined as a nightlife and electronic music blog, I would like to arrive at a comprehensive definition of “nightlife.” Sometimes it’s tough for me to look at this blog and place my finger on its focus. Perhaps this definition will guide me
The OED defines “nightlife” as “social activities or entertainment available at night in a town or city.”
This definition shoots in the right direction, but it seems lazy. According to the OED, a sushi dinner, a tipsy social walk around a lake, and a house party could constitute ‘nightlife.’ At the same time, going to a daytime public disco, or staying out through the night and into the next day, activites which I would categorize as ‘nightlife,’ are not included. I like where the OED definition is heading with ‘social activites and entertainment’ as being the primary subjects of nightlife, but I think it can be narrowed down.
There is a potential energy around the ‘night-‘ of nightlife that deserves recognition. Since the activity of socialization and entertainment can happen at any time of day, I don’t read the ‘night’ of nightlife literally. However, it is an important qualifier, for ‘life’ alone is far too vague, and something like ‘entertainment and social life’ is far too beaurocratic. The ‘night-‘ of nightlife is important, and not because it refers to life after the sun sets.
What is it about ‘night-‘ that’s important then? The night is a time of un-seeing, of blindness, of hiding, of concealment. It is at night that the undesirable activities of humanity are represented. It draws our fascination because of Its frequent status at the edge of our social paradigm. It is here that nightlife rests. It is at the edge. It is the place where humans push their comfort zones and excite their minds, whether that has to do with dance, intoxicants, or socialization. It is this quality that the OED misses.
Thus, nightlife, as defined by Ammeter, is:
“A public gathering of people whose assembly, entertainment, and liminal activity is the intent of their gathering.”
This morning I was reading an article by lecturer and professor Henry Jenkins about effective use of transmedia forms and the entertainment industry’s slugish ability in adopting the form.
‘Transmedia’ is a term that describes a media phenomenon that exists across multiple platforms and which facilitates different user experiences depending on the platform. Pokemon is one of the best examples of a transmedia concept, as identified by Jenkins. The Pokemon world is one that exists across TV series’, movies, manga, video games, card games, and etc.
The Wartortle universe is expanded by this expertly crafted fan-music.
As the transmedia practice tends to enrich a users interaction with subject matter and offer a user opportunities to demonstrate agency with media interaction, I believe that the practice would benefit journalism.
In fact, journalism has exists transmedia since the printing press entered popular use, when one could,perhaps, receive news from both a town crier and a local pamphlet.
In this day and age, news about an event is delivered in print, on the radio, and across the internet in the form of news outlets, blogs, or podcasts.
Transmedia Music Journalism
Music reporting and journalism are, by definition, transmedia. Listening to the music of a local musician who I recently read an interview from will broaden my impression of that musician.
When writing about music on Ammeter, linking to that music or accompanying an article with a recorded interview is transmedia. I wonder about other ways that I can expand transmedia practice as a electronic music reporter. Below are a list of ideas. Let me know if any stand out to you!
Print expertly designed posters concerning electronic music events that Ammeter appreciates and paste them up around town.
Print and distribute local electronic music guide-zines that inform readers about Vancouver’s grassroots electronic music organizers.
Post emails or “letters to the editor” from readers concerning their experiences with particular venues or events.
Post music produced by Ammeter staff after they’ve attending a music production workshop.
Hand write and hand out endearing notes to dancers at music events that are “from Ammeter.”
It feels like linking to music and posting podcasts / or interviews are insubstantial in modern journalism. Branching out to new forms of media could only benefit the publication.
If you live in Vancouver, are any bit a of homer and enjoy new techno, then it’s likely that you’ve encountered 1800HaightStreet. Their driving melodies and billowing percussion have captured ears around the world, and for good reason. The duo has been producing and playing music for longer than a decade. Zach, known as one half of the 1800HaightStreet project and ZDBT, is a beaming example of musical proficiency, self-affirming excitement and commitment.
Fresh off the back of a European live tour, Zach sat with me to chat history, production, and plans for the future. What follows is a framed and summarized representation of our exchange.
they say being a touring DJ is really hard on your mental well-being, but I think being in a punk band in a crappy vehicle, touring Canada, is probably a lot worse. But, it was still fun. I wouldn’t trade that.
Zach was born and raised in Winnipeg. He began playing the drums early: at home and at school as a percussionist. His mother bought him his first drum set at the age of ten, and encouraged him to play to his heart’s content. Since then, he has taught himself how to play, aside from some training in Latin and Afro-Cuban grooves.
He moved to Vancouver in 2008, where he began working and playing in bands. His first tour was with hardcore punk band Sick Charade in 2011, and his last was with Summering in 2015. By that point he was pretty saturated by band life and decided to transition out of it. “I got pretty fed up with playing in bands,” he told me, adding that “they say being a touring DJ is really hard on your mental well-being, but I think being in a punk band in a crappy vehicle, touring Canada, is probably a lot worse. But, it was still fun. I wouldn’t trade that.”
Since then, the duo has exhibited some remarkable output. They tend to write music independently and assist the other in post-production. At the moment, Zach is churning out a track nearly every day. This makes for an abundance of work to choose from when it’s time to collaborate with a label on releases. With such a brimming portfolio, I have no doubt that 2019 will be a productive year for the 1800HaightStreet and ZDBT projects.
It was with a couple friends and bandmates, Todd and Hunter, that Zach decided to part ways from the challenges of band life, sell his drums and pick out some synthesizers. With a name from Todd to reflect the psychedelic movement of West Coast Bay Area hippies, Zach and Hunter collaborated on production that led to their first release, The Pursuit, in 2015.
When Zach and Hunter aren’t touring or in the studio, they may be on a film set. Both of them pay the bills on a lucrative film payroll, with Zach working in props and Hunter in set decoration. Zach’s schedule is less demanding so he tends to be in the studio more often and has more opportunities to perform. Nevertheless, the duo often collaborates on adapting tracks for live performance, so they have a robust live arrangement at the moment. “I prefer doing live stuff in general,” Zach explained, adding that “DJing will be mostly a solo thing in the future. It’s fun to DJ back to back, but it’s hard to do that all the time. I like to be able to explore within a DJ set.”
This is a natural progression for Zach. He’s been listening to techno since the 90s when his uncle worked in a record store where he showed him some of the decade’s coolest electronic music. “[My uncle] used to make me mix tapes with banging techno and acid on it, like Hardfloor, and lots of 90s shit … I was really obsessed with the ‘Hackers’ soundtrack,” he told me.
With 30 years of techno along with hundreds of hours of solo studio work, I imagine that both his live and DJ sets are robust. I’ll be catching him in Vancouver on March 30th at Open Studios. Parties in Victoria and Edmonton are also in the works, with some European dates on the horizon.
Watch Lobster Theremin’s label LTBLK as well as Vancouver-based labels for Zach’s 2019 releases. Aditionally, watch out for a new project colab titled “Dosis” by Isla label boss Nap, and ZDBT
1800’s latest album Age is available now on Bandcamp.
Below is a sequence of photos from Vancouver’s False Creek and Main Street area taken from the Google maps database. They date from 2000 to 2018 (excluding ’06 and ’10 – ’12).
It takes a few cycles of the GIF to notice changes. A particular area of interest is south of the water.
The stress associated with the transformation of old neighbourhoods and soaring property values have been felt in many modern cities around the world. Indeed, this problem may come to define era in coming decades.
This stress has a particularly tangible burden on cultural spaces, which tend to pull in less profits than a traditional business, especially if they are presenting alternative forms of media.
As you look at this sequence, consider how Vancouver’s landscape, or the landscape of any modern city, may come to accommodate cultural spaces. Where could those spaces be? What effects will the inclusion or exclusion of these spaces have on your city? Are these the right questions to ask?
I would love to read your answers to these questions in the comments below.
At times, it feels arbitrary to study nightlife, or to even want to study nightlife. The primary function of nightlife often appears to be simple: to entertainment. However, At other times, it feels like I take the elements of nightlife, of the organised party, for granted. What could those elements be? Can studying the phenomenon of nightlife reveal humanity in a fresh perspective? I like to think so. With this in mind, it seems worth it to explore the question “why study nightlife?”
My automatic answer is that leisurely congregation is an important form of community brainstorming where prevelant qualities of a group become visible in personal contexts. It is the site where human desire, and desire’s associated behaviours, rise to the surface of our collective broth. Desire is a flexible, flowing phenomenon by which the whims and fears of a group are revealed. The club is a location that facilitates an exploration of these qualities, thus it is an important modern institution for any individual.
Philosophers have proposed theories that consult my question more articulately (albeit indirectly.) For Friedrich Nietzche, in The Birth of Tragedy, it is essential for music to be accompanied by tragic myth. According to him, these two elements identically simulate transcending individuality. They are both born from “the playful construction and demolition of the world of individuality as an outpouring of primal pleasure and delight” (the Dionysiac) as in the case of a child who builds a castle from rock and sand only to knock it down with the tide (783).
To facilitate this process are structures that form beauty (The Apolonian), for there is no sand castle without a basic idea of architecture and there is no rhythm without musical consistency.
When Nietzsche talks about music and tragedy, I imagine he pictured the orchestra and the theatre company. The Birth of Tragedy pivots on the theatrical legends of ancient Greece where the elements of tragedy are explicit.
Considering that theatre is nearly absent in the contemporary club, Nietzsche might find club culture to be particularly flimsy. He claims that the relationship between music and myth is so intimate “that the atrophy of the one would be connected to the degeneration and deprivation of the other” (783).
In search for a reason to study nightlife, I reject this deduction. As the image of nightlife has shifted from the theatre and the seated club and centred on our modern evolution of the saloon, humans have also shifted their mythological value. In the dance hall of today, these myths are rarely expressed intentionally and are open to speculation.
Myth is, after all, simply a narrative that one tells one’s self to inform behaviour, or as they say at Modern Mythology, myth “allows us to establish a place within history for ourselves.”
Many secular myths are prevalent in the club. Some that come to mind are myths of gender (and its degradation,) of masculinity and femininity, myths of sexuality, myths of authenticity, robust economic myths, myths of democracy and etc.
It is these myths that fascinate me and drive me towards nightlife. I don’t feel equipped to judge society’s Dionysiac capacity, but I believe that Nietzsche’s connection between music and myth is a useful perspective of nightlife. Myths like the ones suggested above add substance and social cues to late night socialisation and dance. Critiquing that substance enables us to discern whether it functions to improve social health or to damage it, thereby allowing us to adjust our patterns of socialisation. Studying the club presents intimate planes for growth.
Work Cited Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. “The Birth of Tragedy.” ed. Vincent Leitch. 2nd ed. Norton. 2010. Print.
Ammeter intends to bring careful reporting to Vancouver’s lightly represented electronic music community. We want to avoid forming an opinion-based music blog. Listening to music is a subjective experience that we have no interest in dictating. The Ammeter Bond will form the guidelines for these intentions.
Hopefully establishing these principles will help give Ammeter direction and establish a voice.
This will be Ammeter Bond I. As our practice develops, I imagine that it will be redrafted with new amendments and fresh intentions. For now, it is filled with the subtle errors of an amateur typist; the expressions of an author in training. Please hold my articles to its proposed standards, dear readers.
There are few things I find more frightening than being unlikable. That may sound insecure, yes, but I prefer not to skirt around the truth. Being ‘liked, ‘ whatever that might mean, reaps a bounty of benefits from good eye contact to free cigarettes to job promotions.
When it comes to meeting strangers, likability values a good first impression, so whether I’m at a club or on the bus, I do everything in my power to facilitate positive social experiences. This tends to happen passively when I’m relaxed, but when I’m stressed, I tend to waste time concerned about whether or not I’ve agitated people.
Recently, I have been more stressed in public, so my interactions with strangers has been limited to stressing out about them in my imagination. However, over the last week, after reading a James Hamblin piece titled “How to Talk to Strangers,” I’ve been determined to have conversations with humans who I’ve never met. As of now (Sunday afternoon), I’ve had two.
The first didn’t go well. It was with a new classmate, whose name I had forgotten during our round table introductions a half hour earlier. To summarize, we traded names, “how are you’s?”, and he walked away. I was bitter about his lack of tact, and re-entered our classroom, introverted and annoyed. This felt like a lesson on why one should not talk to strangers. I had tried and failed.
The second went perfectly. It was exemplary of my bright, optimistic social ability. While looking for a place to sit in a crowded bar, I greeted a stranger, we traded “how are you’s,” I gave an honest, witty answer, we introduced ourselves, and the rest of the conversation was silk. We were at a drag show, so at least 95% of the people at the venue shared a common cultural interest and, such similarities make for easy bonding. I formed a sense of accomplishment after that, but for no simple reason I think.
In his article, Hamblin asserts that “public-health research has shown improved moods among commuters who chat on the subway, and happiness and creativity among people who talk to strangers.” However, I believe it is an oversimplification to say that stranger chatting causes happiness. I have spent many happy hours engrossed in a book on transit, and being interrupted by a chatty commuter would probably have spoiled that mood. Chatting isn’t for everyone, or for every moment, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t strike up conversation with strangers. Occasionally, stranger chatting can be satisfying, sure, and I have a theory as to why.
As people grow and develop, I believe they reinforce certain behaviours and habits, physically and emotionally, that can be described as ‘needs’ when one grows older. I like to think that I have a need for intimacy, and there are many ways to satisfy that. Feeling intimately connected with a book is one way, and meeting a friendly new human is another. It would be selfish to assume that everyone has the same needs as I do, though, so I heed you, dear reader, to be careful with Hamblin’s article. Do not assume that socialization creates happiness, but be open to it having that influence.