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Queer kinaesthesia - Sydney


Title Queer kinaesthesia: on the dance floor at gay and lesbian dance parties Sydney, 1994-1998
Author Bollen, Jonathan James
Institution University of Western Sydney
Date 1999

Abstract What is happening on the dance floor at the gay and lesbian dance parties? What are lesbians and gay men doing when they dance? This thesis presents a project in performance research that takes as its locus on investigation the dance parties that have been produced annually by gay and lesbian organisations in Sydney since the early 1980s. In particular, it focuses on the largest of these dance parties, Mardi Gras Party and Sleaze Ball, during a period of research from 1994 to 1998. Harnessing these resources, the thesis aims at investigating how dance parties sustain an ongoing salience for gay men and lesbians in Sydney. On the basis of ethnographic research, performance documentation, and movement analysis, the investigation pursues an analytical trajectory across the making of dance parties within a subcultural scene, to the doing of dance parties as performance events, and then onto the dance floor as a site for performative practice. Responding to a persistent debate about straights at the parties, the anlayses register the salience of dancing as an etiquette of doing dance party as it is done, as a queer kinaesthesia sustained on the dance floor, and as an occasional community danced into existence. The thesis attests to the pertinence of analysing movement. It analyses the mobility of practice, rather than its textual residue; the kinaesthesia of performative identities, rather than their morphological contours; and the choregraphy of community, rather than its substantive contents. Recognising that queer theory too has an interest in movement, in proliferating metaphors for the mobility of queer identifications and desires, the thesis argues in conclusion that such metaphors represent imaginative flights of fancy to the extent that they fail to grasp the corporeality of queer kinaesthesia.

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