Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Jay Hodgson
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is a catalyst for creative expression, from the solo dance form known as shuffling, to “Flow Arts” activities (forms of self-expression inducing a flow state) like poi, hula hooping, orbiting, and gloving. Gloving is a subcultural practice and artform that couples LED lights with dexterous finger movements. It is a method of expression for dance music enthusiasts (also known as ravers) and has become an important component of the EDM scene, particularly over the past decade. Glovers engage in “secondary” performances to live music (DJs) using complex techniques such as symbolism, word painting, and what the community refers to as “musicianship.” Performances are comprised mainly of improvisatory gestures and movements drawn from a large lexicon, known collectively as “concepts.” Learning the skill of gloving involves taking part in oral transmission, cyphering, community building activities (both online and in-person), and cultivating a gloving identity with an accompanying pseudonym. This monograph illuminates the lacuna in the discourse regarding the lack of attention given to Canadian rave culture within the field of Electronic Dance Music Culture (EDMC). It elucidates primarily the practices of gloving within the Toronto rave scene. Toronto has played an integral role in the history of gloving from its earliest roots in “liquiding,” a style of dance that originated at raves during the 1990s. Several glovers and liquid dancers active in the Toronto rave scene between 1990 and 2020 are informants for the work. The work’s methodologies draw from existing practices, pulling from several fields including musicology, sociology, and ethnography. The work itself takes the form of an autoethnographic study, rooted in the participatory approaches of journalists Hunter S. Thompson and Simon Reynolds. The format is unconventional, embracing casual language, audio-visual materials, participant observation methodology, fieldnotes and meta-reflections, interviews, and pictures, presented in a mosaic approach à la Marshall McLuhan. The work also lacks a traditional critique, preferring to infer through storytelling and descriptions by informants from within the scene itself. The author of the work offers a robust critique of the theoretical idealization of fieldwork in EDMC scholarship by purposefully utilizing fluid positionality as a defining quality. The overarching arguments are threefold and include advocating for the acknowledgment of Toronto as a city of importance in the global rave scene, Flow Arts as a pathway to self-actualization, and calling to action the implementation of “Fluid Positionality” as an optimal way to negotiate “the vibe” for more nuanced data collection.
Summary for Lay Audience
This work outlines the history and social practices of a dance form called gloving, which developed at Electronic Dance Music (EDM) events (raves). Gloving uses the hands, dressed in white gloves with LED lights inside the fingertips, to create the illusion that the glover is controlling musical sound. Glovers use a performance space of a large square encompassing the head and upper body of one or two people in the audience who face them. Gloving evolved from an earlier dance form, liquiding, which emerged at raves in the 1990s. The aim of the study is not only to explore gloving in an academic setting, but also to cement Canadian rave culture, specifically Toronto, in the historical account of the development of Electronic Dance Music Culture (EDMC).The methods used to collect data for this study included participating in cultural activities (200 + events and festivals) over the course of a five year period, interviewing people from the scene, and learning some of rave’s most popular creative forms including shuffling, DJing, and of course gloving. Personal experience is a focal point of this paper and challenges the claim that “objectivity,” where the researcher attempts to remove themselves from their work, is a best practice. The style of paper, an autoethnography, is essentially in an “auto” biography form where “ethnography” refers to the customs of the culture. The paper purposely uses informal language that should be accessible to the average person. The author has done this to allow room for members of the rave community to access and read the paper. The paper is made up of journal entries (also known as fieldnotes, from the period of research), thoughts about the data during the writing process (known as meta-voice), pictures, music, videos, and descriptions of the events and practices by the author and her informants. The overarching arguments are threefold and include advocating for the acknowledgment of Toronto as a city of importance in the global rave scene, Flow Arts as a pathway to self-actualization, and calling to action the implementation of “Fluid Positionality” as an optimal way to negotiate “the vibe” for more nuanced data collection.
Carrabre, M Gillian, "Music Sounds Better With You" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7905.
Canadian History Commons, Dance Commons, Ethnomusicology Commons, Interactive Arts Commons, Musicology Commons, Other Communication Commons, Other Linguistics Commons, Other Social and Behavioral Sciences Commons, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons, Sociology of Culture Commons