St John, G. 2015. “Introduction to Weekend Societies: EDM Festivals and Event-Cultures.”

St John, Graham. 2015. “Introduction to Weekend Societies: EDM Festivals and Event-Cultures.” DanceCult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture 7(1): 1-14.

EDM culture inferred as impacted through “festivalisation of culture” (Bennett, Taylor, and Woodward 2014), but are distinctly different from scenes/club culture/etc. as they are event-cultures. EDM festivals as relatively fresh terrain, “despite the fact that EDM cultural events and their event cultures proliferate and diversify rapidly” (1).

“Festivalscape” term of Chalcraft and Magaudda (2013) – draws from Appadurai (1990)’s variety of –scapes – ethnoscapes, mediascapes, etc. – “each comprising unique sets of ‘flows’ that intersect with others at the shifting local-global disjunctures of modernity” (2).

“Festivalscapes are a set of cultural, material and social flows, at both local and global levels, both concrete and imagined, both deliberate and unintended, which emerge and are established during a specific festival. In this sense, festivals can be seen and analysed as terrains where different cultural, aesthetic and political patterns and values temporarily converge and clash, constantly creating, stabilizing and redefining the setting of festival interaction, and in so doing stressing the problems raised by the multiple articulation of global cultural flows, local life and spatiality” (Chalcraft and Magaudda 2013: 174).

Festivals as diverse pop cultural phenomenon (McKay 2015) – “EDM culture lies at the crossroads of local dance event origins and global industry imperatives” (this work 2) – as they experience new forms of “mediatisation” (Holt 2015), and diversifying stakeholders with disparate motives (and demographics AND identities).

  • “And “is it possible to base a culture”, as Simon Reynolds asked nearly two decades ago, “around sensations rather than truths, fascination rather than meaning, jouissance rather than plaisir?” (1997: 109 – here 5).

“While weekend societies are exemplary event-centred cultures that provide their memberships with identification and recognition independent from traditional sources (e.g. ethnicity, faith, class), eventised movements are diverse in their organisation, intention and populations. From ethically-charged events with commitments to local regions and indigenous communities to subsidiaries of entertainment conglomerates touring multiple nations annually, EDM festivals are expressions of “freedoms” that are revolutionary and recreational. Co-created “do-ocracies” inspired by Burning Man or corporate sponsored bureaucracies in the mould of Electric Daisy Carnival, churches of genre or ecumenical free-for-alls, DJ-driven or fusional by design, offering sustainable solutions or orgies of excess, with habitués worshipping brand-name DJs or showing support for independent sound systems, diversity is evident across management styles, mediatisation strategies, performance legacies and modes of participation” (3).

  • Art festivals tend to privilege participation, dialogue, experience, and interaction; dance festivals optimize the “othering of the self” (5), transformational or boutique festivals offer “experience design” that promotes “temporary countercultural identity performances” (Johansson and Toraldo 2015: 11) – emerging not only in festival consumption/participation, but through “the anticipation of a desired experience” (Johansson and Toraldo 2015: 5). Possibly that of “familiar difference” (here 11), which “empowers participants to enter experimental and transformative states of selfhood, [yet] finding the tension-line amid shifting aesthetics grows increasingly difficult” (here also 11).
  • If “ordinary” cultural events sustain liminality, could larger scale events sustain “hyperliminal” states? (11).
  • “Other events falling under the transformational rubric tend to offer multiple means for transition by permitting event publics the ability to perform variable identities that emerge on a status spectrum between consumer (the entertained) and producer (the artist), the complex liminal conditions of which warrants further consideration in the emergent field of EDM festival studies” (11) — but I don’t think that this is just transformational events — I think this may be said of most if not all weekend cultures?


Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” Theory, Culture, and Society 7(2): 295-310.

Bennett, Andy, Jodie Taylor, and Ian Woodward, eds. 2014. The Festivalisation of Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Chalcraft, Jasper and Paolo Magaudda. 2013. “’Space is the Place’: The Global Localities of the Sonar and WOMAD Music Festivals.” Pp. 173-189 in Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere, edited by Gerard Delanty, Liana Giorgi, and Monica Sassatelli. New York: Routledge.

Holt, Fabian. 2015, forthcoming. “New Media, New Festival Worlds: Rethinking Cultural Events and Televisuality through YouTube and the Tomorrowland Music Festival.” In Music and the Broadcast Experience, edited by James Deaville and Christina Baade. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johansson, Marjana and Maria Laura Toraldo. 2015. “’From Mosh Pit to Posh Pit’: Festival Imagery in the Context of the Boutique Festival.” Culture and Organization. Published online at:

McKay, George, ed. 2015. The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Reynolds, Simon. 1997. “Rave Culture: Living Dream or Living Death?” Pp. 102-111 in The Clubcultures Reader: Readings in Popular Cultural Studies, edited by Steve Redhead. Oxford: Blackwell.


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