Common clichés about music are that it "brings people together" and that it is an especially emotional artistic medium, conveying feelings that are otherwise impossible to articulate verbally. Nonetheless, it is difficult to explain how music conveys affect, particularly in group settings. Can affect move between dancing bodies, or does it remain a radically personal experience? When an especially powerful moment happens on the dancefloor and we share a glance with those dancing next to us, there is a tacit question: "Can You Feel It, Too?"
The talk "Feeling Together on the Dancefloor: Affect, Intimacy and Dance Music" attempts to provide some answers, based on ethnographic research conducted in Paris, Berlin and Chicago, filtered through the lens of contemporary affect theory and sound studies. It looks to the shared experience of sonic vibration, the musical articulation of affect, and the vague sociability of stranger-intimacy to propose a theory for how dancefloors provide opportunities for affective alignment between dancing bodies. It criticassesses critically the utopian outlook that pervades these subcultural scenes and highlights some of the paradoxes and risks that arise from them. Considering the renewed political discourse in dance music in recent years — especially in light of the events of 2016 — this talk reflects on the socio-political stakes of such musical evocations of "Fear Anger Love."
Luis-Manuel Garcia is a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies at the University of Birmingham, with previous appointments at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin) and the University of Groningen (Netherlands).