Macquarie University
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DJs, clubs and vinyl: the cultural commodification and operational logics of contemporary commercial dance music in Sydney

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:17 authored by Edward James Montano
The development of contemporary, post-disco dance music and its associated culture, as representative of a (supposedly) underground, radical subculture, has been given extensive consideration within popular music studies. Significantly less attention has been given to the commercial, mainstream manifestations of this music. Furthermore, demonstrating the influence of subculture theory, existing studies of dance culture focus largely on youth-based audience participation, and as such, those who engage with dance music on a professional level have been somewhat overlooked. In an attempt to rectify these imbalances, this study examines the contemporary commercial dance music scene in Sydney, Australia, incorporating an analytical framework that revolves mainly around the work of DJs and the commercial scene they operate within.--An ethnographic methodological approach underpins the majority of this thesis, with interviews forming the main source of research material. Beginning with a discussion of the existing academic literature on dance culture and dance scenes, an historical context is subsequently established through a section that traces the development of dance culture from an underground phenomenon to a mainstream leisure activity, both within and outside Australia.--The ideas, opinions and interpretations of a selection of local DJs and other music industry practitioners who work in Sydney are central to the analysis of DJ culture herein. Issues discussed include the interaction and relationship between the DJ and their crowd, the technology and formats employed by DJs, and the DJ's multiple roles as entertainer, consumer and educator. The final part of the study gives consideration to the structure of the Sydney dance scene, in regard to the frequently used, but rarely critically analysed, terms 'underground' and 'mainstream'. The thesis concludes with a discussion that challenges the structural rigidity imposed by subcultural theory and scene-based analysis, arguing instead for a greater degree of fluidity in the theoretical approaches taken towards the study of contemporary dance music scenes.


Alternative Title

Cultural commodification and operational logics of contemporary commercial dance music in Sydney

Table of Contents

Introduction -- "Back to this subculture thing": literature review and methodology -- "The crowd went berserk": dance music and club culture in Sydney and Australia -- "Once you find a groove you've got to keep it locked": the role and significance of the DJ -- "There's a great myth about that": DJ culture in Sydney -- "You're not a real DJ unless you play vinyl": technology and formats: the progression of dance music and DJ culture -- "What is underground really?": defining the structure, significance and meaning of dance culture -- "Where are they going to go next?": shifting the focus of dance music studies.


Bibliography: p. 291-313

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Humanities, Department of Contemporary Music Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Contemporary Music Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Philip Hayward

Additional Supervisor 1

Denis Crowdy


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Edward James Montano 2007.




New South Wales


vi, 334 p

Former Identifiers

mq:2550 1283636