1st Global Conference
Tuesday 8th March – Thursday 10th March 2011
Prague, Czech Republic
The Vanishing Social Clubs of Liverpool 8
Faculty of Sport, Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
This paper reports on collaborative, documentary film research about the musicians and social clubs in the L8 postal code area (also called Toxteth) in Liverpool. Formerly at the socio-geographic heart of Liverpool’s Black communities, the L8 social clubs – e.g., Yoruba Club, Nigeria Club, Ibo Club, Somali Club, Ghana Club, Jamaica House, and Sierra Leone Club – represented important neighbourhood foci in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (Zack-Williams, 1997). Once significant sites of music-making and performance, only two of these social clubs remain in operation, and many have disappeared completely, as the city and its racial relations have undergone dramatic transformations in the last 30 years. Against the backdrop of city council and ‘Liverpool Culture Company’ initiatives that make much of Liverpool’s popular music heritage (Cohen, 2007) the histories of local Black musicians remain underrepresented in popular music scholarship (Brocken, 2010; Strachan, 2010), as are the cultural geographies of the L8 area (Small, 1991). The L8 social clubs, and memories of those who frequented them, represent a vanishing cultural heritage and a distinctive character area of the city. This paper reports on a project that invited young people (18-25) to conduct oral history interviews in intergenerational dialogue (Chandler, 2005) with 12 older adults in L8 to explore questions of what the cultural terrain of the L8 area had once been like and how it had changed. In doing so young people reflected on what is currently on offer for them in the area (and in the city more generally) in terms of changing musical cultures, leisure spaces and opportunities to socialise, perform and watch musicians. Their reflections, presented vis-à-vis the narratives of older generations of local residents in a documentary film, allowed further discussion of change and continuity in Liverpool’s racialised relations.
Sydney’s Alternative Spaces: Same, Same but Different
Visual Communication at the University of Western Sydney
This paper explores the rise and fall of venue spaces in the underground alternative arts and music scene, currently prevalent within Sydney’s inner western suburbs. In an environment of increasing rental rates and high property prices, Sydney’s alternative arts, music and grassroots community scenes have been operating on a system of unofficial venues that run without relevant licenses (Rattler, 09). This particular guerilla culture rejects the normal conventional ideas consistent within commercial live music and art practices and spaces and has subsequently opened underground, illegal, alternative or what I call irregular places.
This culture is one accustomed to venue closures and places shifting and relocating
due to their illegal nature and/or a venues inability to conform to government regulations and licensing laws. In extreme cases, venues disappear from the alternative sector and are absorbed into the mainstream, often becoming gentrified and divorced from the original ethos that once founded the venue. The changing spaces and nomadic nature of these venues addresses the notion that this subculture is fluid and adaptable, bound by a desire to create a sense of place. This does not necessarily refer to the physical space in a traditional sense but can exist simply in connections between people whose temporary association creates a provisional sense of place within already coded space (Tucker, 5). These venues are not purpose built venues and consist of a range of warehouses, longue rooms and abandoned spaces that exist within the confines of the urban city.
This paper discusses the dynamics of how these spaces operate and the ways in which these venues are adopted and then transformed to create a sense of community and place. It will also explore both the sub-cultural and visual frameworks that surround the wide range of discourses and disciplines undertaken within these venues and will create a mode for comparison, highlighting what makes each venue different and what elements unite them as part of a larger whole.
The Live Indie Music Scene in Milan
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
Within popular music studies, great attention has been given to the role music plays in the urban landscape. Music and urban landscape live in a reciprocal relationship, because music influences how cities can be represented, but even inhabited and experienced (Cohen, 2007). Besides, the issue of live music in urban context has been often analysed (e.g. Shank, 1994), underlining the significance of live music in contributing to the overall character of the local ‘music scene’(e.g. Cohen, 1991).
The notion of ‘music scene’ (e.g. Shank, 1994; Connel & Gibson, 2002) has been used, and even debated in popular music studies to underline the association of locality with specific style of music, with a peculiar “city sound” (Cohen, 2007), and to refer to music production and consumption in a specific, usually urban, space (Cohen, 1991; Finnegan, 1989); live performance venues have been regarded as social hub for the scene to foster.
This work will therefore try to outline the urban live music scene, looking at the ways everyday music practices interact with the urban landscape. The same notion of ‘scene’ be taken into account, to see its meaning and its relevance in describing music in the urban landscape. The analysis will later focus on the role played by this scene, especially by live music, as a crucial creative industry able to enhance the cultural, creative regeneration of cities.
The project will look at the live indie music scene of Milan, by mapping the live venues and festivals taking place in the city and by analysing the different actors involved (musicians, booking agents, artistic directors, venue managers). In-depth interviews and participant observations in the venues and during the music events will be used in order to grasp the different relations and networks characterizing the independent music scene, which will be regarded as a pivotal creative industry of the city.