One more semester and then what? Who knows where my career will take me?
The rain trickled down the window, leaving its trail behind as it slowly made its way to the bottom of the antique frame. The window was old and outdated. Marjorie was always staring out the window, but it never made her happy. What she used to know as “Aberfield Lane” a street in Chicago Illinois that was lined with jazz clubs and restaurants and the cutest little homes, one of them being her own. Was now “Aberfield Lane” the 1989 suburb. The cookie cutter houses replaced the clubs, a new playground replaced her favourite restaurant and the entire neighbourhood reeked of Aqua net and Electric youth. The only thing that never changed was her house. Everything looked as though it was stuck in the past, every plate was chipped and stained, every wall, an antique pink and every room smelt like smoke and Shalimar. It seemed as though the 1920s never left until you stepped outside the front door.
Every time a car drove by, blasting the latest rock song, it got harder and harder for her to understand. How on earth could the world allow something as beautiful and perfect as jazz be replaced by electric guitars and painted faces? It was as though, with every passed day and every new invention, the world shed loved faded further and further away.
That night, she fixed herself a brandy and lit her cigar. She placed her favourite record on the player and watched it spin. She could feel the band moving to the music as men sat and smoked with a women dressed to the nine wrapped in their arms.
Eventually she sat down in her chair and drifted to sleep while the record continued to spin. She slept all through the night and day, dreaming of her past. When eventually she was awoken by the sound of a saxophone playing its brassy melodies outside her windows. Which she noticed looked as new as they did when she first bought the house. As a matter of fact, everything looked brand new, the only thing that seemed to be the same was the smell. She walked towards the front door to see what had happened and as she passed the front hall she was startled by a young women staring back at her. The women had short blonde hair cut into a chic bob. Her dress was sparkly and drowned in fringe that swayed every time she moved. Marjorie realized it was no women at all, but a mirror reflecting her own image. It was as if she was 22 yet again, she felt so beautiful and happy that she couldn’t help but smile and skip out the front door to see what else had changed. To her amazement, she was right, everything was as it used to be. Everywhere she looked, people were dressed in fur and top hats with gorgeous short hair and cigarettes between their lips. She could hear the jazz music coming from “The Kit Kat” the most popular club around. Without hesitation she ran towards it, smiling as the smell of brandy grew stronger. Two gentlemen dressed in suits welcomed her as they opened the doors and clouds of smoke flew out and encircled her, bringing her towards the dance floor which welcomed her like an old friend that would never let her go again. As she danced the night away, the woman in the chair smiled as the sound of her heartbeat was replaced with the sound of music, forever.
Transmedia: Representation: “I’ll be seeing you” sung by Billie Holiday
The piece uses movement to express discomfort within ones body. The camera has moments of shakiness to represent the unbalanced relationship between the girl and those who view her. The abstract colouring and lighting create an unfamiliar and strange environment meant to mimic how she feels in her own skin. This piece uses choreography to portray the need for escape and the discomfort and struggle between a girl and her body.
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.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. “The Birth of Tragedy.” ed. Vincent Leitch. 2nd ed. Norton. 2010. Print.