'Let's Get it Together:' Gatherings, Club Cultures, Parties, and Beyond
The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at The Tisch School of the Arts,
New York University will host this year’s in-person Pop Conference. All events, with the exception of a few remotely scheduled activities, will be held at The Clive Davis Institute, 370 Jay Street, Brooklyn, New York.
Several years of quarantine and social distancing have set ablaze the desire to gather safely in community in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. This year’s convergence compels a reflection on the power of getting together in the past and present while acknowledging the necessity for new ways of congregating.
So, “Let’s get it together!” Let's get loud, because we need a holiday, a holy day on the dance floor or beyond. Remember when the DJ dropped the beat, the crowd went wild, and you felt the club vibrating as you showed up in your best outfit? Work! Inside, a kaleidoscope of bodies dancing, watching, sweating, kissing, touching. Music transports, envelops, heals, connects, the dance floor (whatever that looks like!) becomes a classroom, where learning to play with gender, perform experimental versions of self is possible. Where being in communion among strangers, friends or lovers compels gatherers to sweat out the tears, bring in the joy, feel the pleasure. “Can you feel it?,” the desire for sacred spaces of communal celebration in a time of flux.
Gathering to celebrate is and has been a key technique for many to continuously resist land occupation, dehumanization and policing of their existence. From the cabaret, juke joint, hootenanny and honkytonk to the punk pit, rave, tango ballroom. From break dancing, salsa, norteña or 1990s quebradita to the remixed sounds of traditional Pow Wow music and electronica, club cultures, broadly and poetically defined for this call, have launched and sustained innumerable styles of music and dance. From festivals to backyard parties and Tea dances to BBQs, ballrooms, community centers, parking lots and cars, abandoned warehouses, dive bars, circuit parties, parties in the forest, swap meet dance competitions, fairy gatherings, and queer ritual, we wanna dance. At the club or other gathering spaces, yet to be manifest, we can enter the sequined portal Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi sings us through.
This year's Pop Conference explodes and expands the idea of “the club” as strictly physical, locatable, enclosed, and opens up to the unenclosed, ephemeral–the “club” as what we want it to be. Walls crumble and sounds expand through music, memory, affect, the resonance of vibrations, lingering remembrances of scent and stench, the unrelenting histories of subjugation, relocation, and dislocation, pulsing through every beat, stomp of a foot, clap of a hand.
“Don'tcha wanna dance, say you wanna dance, don'tcha wanna dance.”
You won’t break my soul.
Fugitive spaces of joy, pleasure and sweat, have been and still are sites of political organizing and collectivity, as “[d]ance sets politics in motion” (Delgado and Muñoz). How have gatherings, then and now, functioned as a community resource? How are local communities recovering histories of nightclubs and makeshift gathering spots that have disappeared or shuttered too early by forces of gentrification or what Amin Ghazzani has described as “the increased financialization of the urban environment”? As many make their way through life during a constant state of emergency under capitalism with health emergencies, pandemics, structural violence, police brutality, environmental injustice, grief, loss, hate –many still make space to celebrate by connecting. What role have club cultures, dance floors and party spaces of all kinds play in a certain kind of erotic release? Finally, can party spaces, even virtual ones, reproduce the systems many are trying to escape, and how, in an on-going pandemic, is it possible to hold the dance floor as a space of repair, regeneration and release?
This year's Pop Conference doubles as an invitation to party in-person, safely, as we remember this pandemic is not yet over. Yes! This is a celebration of life and love and all the other feels, a moment in the DJ booth. Let's get it together, a renaissance for all who need it. Let’s walk into a sequined world twirling to the beat.
Conference Proposals (Closed December 15): bit.ly/popconproposal2023
2023 Pop Programming Committee:
Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr., Madison Moore, Michelle Habell-Pallán,
Charles Hughes, Jewly Hight
2023 Pop Conference Producers:
Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr., Jason King, Ronen Givony