Proposed Title: We Can Dance If We Want To: Canadian DJ Culture Turns Up
Edited by Dr. Charity Marsh and Dr. Maren Hancock
“As a creative performance, the DJ set has the potential to communicate new ways of being, of feeling, producing musical discourses that are nevertheless embedded in the real-world, material, politics. In this way, DJ practices enable the immediate reconstitution of local cultural identity.” (Rietveld, 2013, 7)
The rousing success of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s “Nightclubbing” panel discussion focusing on the history of Toronto club culture is one of many recent events that illustrates a growing desire to celebrate Canadian DJ culture. Facebook and other social media sites are rife with archival material relative to DJ culture in Canada from the 1980s until the present. And although the first DJ was technically a Canadian (Reginald Fessenden gave the first radio broadcast of music and speech in 1906), Canada’s unique contributions to DJ culture are mainly absent from academic and public discourse.
A cursory Google search for “DJ culture Canada” reveals the top hit: a 2017 Redbull.com article titled “The History of DJ Culture in Canada” citing fifteen Canadian DJs, the vast majority of whom are white, English-speaking, cis-gender men; no women, trans, or non-binary DJs are mentioned. The lack of other public perspectives is unfortunate, as Redbull’s hegemonic portrayal is inaccurate–women and trans, non-binary, queer and BIPOC artists have been making vital, foundational contributions to Canadian DJ culture for decades.
With this edited collection, we aim to establish a distinct foundation of scholarly knowledge on Canadian DJ culture and its attendant industries, including its positionality within the context of global DJ cultures. We are seeking contributions from scholars, journalists, practitioners, artists, and other stakeholders in DJ culture that explore Canadian DJ culture from historical and current, cross and interdisciplinary perspectives, as well as local and regional expressions. By amplifying diverse voices and stories that illustrate multiple regional, generational, and genre-based factions of Canadian DJ culture, this collection will offer much-needed contributions on DJ cultures within a Canadian-specific context. Moreover, to expand the project’s scope beyond a mere examination of historic and current key Canadian DJs and music producers, the editors encourage work that illuminates the impact of party promoters and collectives; festivals; venues (legal and illegal); visual and sound artists; dance music genres; regional, national, and digital ‘scenes’; cultural and community groups; political and social movements; Canadian popular culture and media, as well as the wider, global impact of Canadian DJ culture.
Contributors may consider (but are not limited to) the following themes/considerations:
Marginalized Groups Reclaim DJ Culture
- What roles have Indigenous DJs and dance music collectives played in shaping DJ culture in Canada?
- What methods do marginalized populations pushing to diversify DJ culture in Canada use? How might activist approaches to creative DJ and music production practices work from within communities to resist existing structures of power and knowledge? For example, how might these approaches contribute to feminist, queer, decolonizing and/or antiracist actions and discourses in popular DJ culture?
Developing Canadian DJ Studies
- What is distinctive about Canadian DJ culture? What roles do geography, colonial history, musical trends, technological advances, affect, and more have in shaping DJ culture in Canada?
- What impact has Canadian DJ Culture had globally, and what global forces have most impacted DJ culture in Canada? What are some differences between DJ culture in Canada compared to other global contexts?
- What contribution can DJ and music production technologies make towards supporting and strengthening situated, local, or cultural knowledge and practices?
Community Building/ Networking/ Collaborative Culture Making
- What are the trajectories and impacts of Canadian dance music festivals and culture(s) like Shambala and Bass Coast in Western Canada, and Harvest and Igloofest in Eastern Canada?
- How have college and community radio shaped DJ culture in Canada and vice versa? Likewise for commercial radio?
- How have Canadian dance music labels influenced genres and subgenres of dance music like reggae, dancehall, dub, hip hop, techno, house, drum n’ bass, breakbeats and more?
- What are the trajectories and impacts of long-running DIY and ‘for us, by us’ DJ crews and club nights such as Ottawa’s Electric Pow Wow, Toronto’s Yes Yes Y’all, and Vancouver’s Sin City?
Living Through and Beyond Covid-19
- How has COVID-19 impacted DJ culture in Canada and the careers of Canadian DJs? How do race, gender, Indigeneity, sexuality, ability, and age mediate these impacts? What extent or foreseen changes to the dance music and DJ sectors of Canada’s cultural industry result from the pandemic?
- Recently women, non-binary, and BIPOC DJs have made significant gains in representation, equity and safety in Canadian DJ culture. Have these gains been diminished by the pandemic, and if so, how? What strategies have BIPOC, non-binary, and women DJs created or adapted in the face of the Coronavirus’ unprecedented challenges to continue pushing for equity in DJ Culture?
- What impact have commercial interests had on underground Canadian DJ culture, and what happens relative to corporate support of DJ culture when the latter undergo radical changes that shift markets and targets to online and virtual realms, and socially distanced performances (such as drive-in concerts)?
DJ Studies: Scholarly Formations
- How does social media engage archival documentation to preserve the seemingly ephemeral nature of individual and collective histories and memories of DJ culture?
- Given that the emergent field of DJ studies is cross and interdisciplinary, and potentially arts-based and participatory, what methodologies and/or theoretical frameworks are appropriate/generative to scholarly studies of Canadian DJ culture? (archives, oral histories, audio libraries)
Rietveld, Hillegonda C. (2013). “Introduction.” In DJ Culture in the Mix: Power, Technology, and Social
Change in Electronic Dance Music. Edited by Bernardo Attias, Anna Gavanas and Hillegonda
Rietveld, 1-14. New York: Bloomsbury.
“The History of DJ Culture in Canada” (2017). Redbull.com.
Call for Proposals – Due July 15, 2021
Completed Chapters – Due January 1, 2022
Review of chapters – January to March, 2022
Revisions by Authors Due by May, 2022
Submission of Manuscript to Press June 2022
About the Editors
Dr. Charity Marsh (she/her) has published on Hip Hop Cultures in Canada, women in popular music, gender and technology, interactive media and performance, digital technologies, and community arts-based education and program development. She is co-editor of We Still Here: Hip Hop North of the 49th Parallel, and the director and producer of the award-winning documentary, I’m Gonna Play Loud: Girls Rock Regina and the Ripple Effect. Dr. Marsh is also the Director of the Interactive Media and Performance Labs and the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Regina.
Dr. Maren Hancock (she/her), aka DJ Betti Forde, is a DJ studies scholar and a critically acclaimed professional DJ and musician with a career spanning over two decades. Her monograph Lady Lazarus: Confronting Lydia Lunch is the first-ever critical biography of the artist and was selected for the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Library in Cleveland, OH. She has published academic and popular pieces on DJ culture in both scholarly and commercial publications and is currently writing and directing a web series on Canadian DJ culture, produced by Karma Film.
Link to CFP: https://tinyurl.com/c8ptucft