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A MASSIVE THANK YOU to all participants in the 21st annual Pop Conference hosted by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in Brooklyn, from April 27 to 30, 2023.

Under the banner theme “Let’s Get it Together”: Gatherings, Club Cultures, Parties, and Beyond, the oldest public conference on music writing and pop music studies convened in person for the first time since 2019 with a four-day live event that brought together the world’s leading pop scholars, journalists, writers and musicians to explore pop music’s role in hospitality, conviviality, and spaces of gathering. Every event was free and open to the public, and although select panels and roundtables were presented virtually, most sessions were held in person at the Clive Davis Institute. In light of recent disruptions and transitions, musicians, critics, and cultural theorists revisited and reimagined the club.

Pop Conference 2023 featured over 60 panels, spotlight sessions, mentoring sessions, performances, installations, dance parties, and even a ‘critical karaoke” session on Beyonce’s Renaissance. Many esteemed scholars, writers, artists, and members of creative collectives took part in this year’s conference, including Kevin Aviance, Madison Moore, Vince Aletti, Tim Lawrence, creators from Pitchfork, Daytimers, Technomaterialism, Go Nightclubbing, “Earth Cry” and “CHRCH, A Black Music Story”, Mel 4Ever, Madison Rose, Jack Powers, Jonah Almost, The Eurowhat? Podcast, DeForrest Brown Jr., Daphne Brooks, and Man Parrish, along with DJs Sliink, Tameil, Quincy Davis, Chloe Jane, SENAIDA, Teamoney and DJ Tara.

2023’s conference kicked off with the keynote panel Find Me in the Club: On the Power of Music to Move and Connect Us, with award-winning NPR Music writer Ann Powers moderating a discussion about spaces of gathering, assembly, and the power of music to make connections with a powerful line up of idiosyncratic music makers: New York singer-songwriter-producer King Princess, New Orleans indie electronic music critical favorite Dawn Richard, and Canadian-raised, Berlin-based electroclash legend Peaches.

The closing keynote panel presented a discussion on the power of music to compel and socially connect people, featuring multiple generations of African-American super-producers: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and eleven-time Grammy nominees for Producer of the Year Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, hit-making superproducer and entrepreneur Timbaland, and Take a Daytrip, the Grammy-nominated production duo David Biral and Denzel Baptiste— in a conversation moderated by Jason King, Chair of the Clive Davis Institute.

A very special THANK YOU to our sponsors, Critical Minded, a grantmaking and learning initiative that supports cultural critics of color in the United States, and PAPER Magazine.

Pop Conference 2023 was produced by Jason King and Eddy F. Alvarez.

2023’s conference compelled a reflection on the power of getting together in the past and present while acknowledging the necessity for new ways of congregating for the future. As years of quarantine and social distancing have set ablaze the desire to commune and celebrate safely, the stakes and structures of conviviality have emerged in sharp relief, presenting new potentials for a radical reconception. Gathering has long been, and remains, a key technique for many to resist land occupation, dehumanization and the consistent policing of their existence. From the cabaret, juke joint, hootenanny and honkytonk to the punk pit, rave or ballroom; from break dancing, tango, salsa, norteña and quebradita to the remixed sounds of disco, soul and electronica, club cultures have launched and sustained innumerable styles of music and dance. From festivals to backyard parties and tea dances to BBQs, from ballrooms, community centers, parking lots and cars to abandoned warehouses, dive bars, circuit parties, powwows, swap meets, dance-offs, fairy gatherings and queer rituals—we see dancing as a first step towards community.


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