Dancing the Night Away: Rave/Club Culture

  • Helen Thomas


The focus of this chapter centres on contemporary popular social dance culture in Britain, which is often referred to as rave or club culture. At certain points in the chapter more traditional dance hall forms, which include modern ballroom and modern sequence, are brought into the discussion. Club culture is commonly associated with youth culture while ballroom dancing is linked with members of the older generation, who frequented dance halls prior to the rise of solo dancing and the advent of the discothèque in the 1960s. Indeed, the term ‘club cultures’, as Sarah Thornton points out, ‘is a colloquial expression given to youth cultures for whom dance clubs and their eighties off-shoots, raves, are the symbolic axis and working social hub’ (1995, p. 3). British club cultures ‘have their roots in a blend of international musical and cultural influences that stretch back, at least in easily recognisable form, to 1945’ (Malbon, 1999, p. 16). Of particular importance were the gay and black disco scenes that emerged from New York in the 1970s. People refer to club cultures or clubbing as rave, dance culture, social dance cultures, dance music culture or nightclubbing, depending on their age, experience and preferences (ibid.). Clubbing has continued to grow, fragment and diversify into a whole variety of genres and sub-genres.


Cultural Theory Moral Panic Youth Culture Dance Floor Dance Event 
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© Helen Thomas 2003

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  • Helen Thomas

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