Club Reg­u­lars 003: Madi­son Moore

The rave academic shares his thoughts on Richmond’s clubbing scene.

Wel­come to Club Reg­u­lars – The Face’s series spot­light­ing the DJs, pro­mot­ers, per­form­ers and activists with love for their local scenes.

Madi­son Moore is an author, DJ and a pro­fes­sor of Queer Stud­ies at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty in Rich­mond. Along­side friends based in Berlin and Lon­don, Moore runs the queer tech­no par­ty OPU­LENCE, and he is well-known amongst pro­gres­sive­ly-mind­ed rave com­mu­ni­ties across the globe. 

Moore earned a PhD in Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Yale Uni­ver­si­ty. Last year, Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press pub­lished Moore’s book Fab­u­lous: The Rise of the Beau­ti­ful Eccen­tric – described as an explo­ration of what it means to be fab­u­lous – and why eccen­tric style, fash­ion, and cre­ativ­i­ty are more polit­i­cal than ever.” In his edi­tion of Club Reg­u­lars, Moore tells The Face about view­ing club cul­ture through an aca­d­e­m­ic lens and the strengths and chal­lenges of Richmond’s par­ty scene.

Please tell us a lit­tle bit about your work as an aca­d­e­m­ic – how does it relate to nightlife?

I’ve been teach­ing a sem­i­nar on queer nightlife at my uni­ver­si­ty that has been going real­ly well. I’ve long been inter­est­ed in the poten­tials of the dance floor, par­tic­u­lar­ly for queer and mar­gin­alised peo­ple. Some of these ideas are explored in my book Fab­u­lous: The Rise of the Beau­ti­ful Eccen­tric. Even more of it will appear in a new book I’m work­ing on now, which is a study of world­mak­ing through queer nightlife. I’m inter­est­ed in what these spaces mean for peo­ple — how they stay alive, why they close, and how they give us life.

Research in queer nightlife is as much about doing inter­views and going to the archives as it is about the prac­tice of nightlife. I do go to the archive – I’ve found some pret­ty great col­lec­tions of fly­ers – but then I also hit the club, too, as a raver and DJ. My DJ prac­tice and our par­ty OPU­LENCE are, for me, about the­o­ry and prac­tice – research by doing.

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If some­one is vis­it­ing Rich­mond for a week­end – where do you rec­om­mend that they go?

Rich­mond is a real­ly vibrant, art­sy, excit­ing place, in spite (or maybe because) of its his­to­ry as the for­mer cap­i­tal of the Con­fed­er­a­cy. Off-the-cut house and base­ment shows are very pop­u­lar here, but you kind of have to have at least one in” to find out about them. That and the bur­lesque scene is pret­ty cool, too. Gallery5 is an art gallery/​entertainment space where a lot of inter­est­ing shows and bur­lesque stuff happens.

You should also hands down check out Fall­out, one of the only fetish clubs in Vir­ginia. It’s a mem­bers-only club but there are also events dur­ing the week that are open to every­body, from com­e­dy and game nights to drag shows and punk con­certs. And because it’s a fetish club, the space becomes some­thing like a liv­ing room for folks in the kink scene. All clubs in Vir­ginia must also serve food — you can’t get away with only hav­ing booze — which makes Fall­out a nice place to grab a bite, meet new peo­ple and hang out. Rich­mond has a num­ber of cute par­ty series, too, like the Ice Cream Social, which grew out of the house show scene, and the tech­no-lean­ing Behaviour804. And if you like chick­en wings, you must go to Saison! 

What’s spe­cial about the club scene in Rich­mond, and what chal­lenges does it face?

When it comes to Rich­mond, the queer nightlife scene there has a lot of grow­ing to do, in part because the main queer venues have issues with anti-black­ness and trans­misog­y­ny. And that means a lot of queer peo­ple don’t feel com­fort­able going to the mar­quee gay and les­bian spaces in town. Then there’s gen­tri­fi­ca­tion –clubs open­ing and clos­ing. Just recent­ly, Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty pur­chased one of the only black-owned clubs in Vir­ginia, a space right near cam­pus that host­ed Club Col­ors, a fab­u­lous black queer night in Rich­mond. But this means peo­ple cre­ate their own par­ties in spaces off the grid, which is very excit­ing. Great ideas and inno­v­a­tive par­ty con­cepts are almost nev­er born in main­stream nar­ra­tives or spaces any­way because once ideas get to the main­stream, they’ve been stripped and cleansed of all the orig­i­nal grit that once made them exciting.

To what extent do you believe that club cul­ture has the poten­tial to facil­i­tate pos­i­tive socio-polit­i­cal change?

I def­i­nite­ly think cer­tain spaces and con­tem­po­rary par­ty crews are using the dance floor for social change — Dis­c­woman, Bassiani and Par­ty Noire in Chica­go are great exam­ples of this. And as much as tech­no bros love say­ing who cares about race… it should be about the music”, black and brown peo­ple cre­at­ed dance music, full stop. Club spaces def­i­nite­ly have prob­lems, so I don’t want to ide­alise them. But I also think they can be fan­tas­tic spaces of com­mu­ni­ty, con­nec­tion, and cre­ativ­i­ty. Clubs may not alle­vi­ate the pres­sures and struc­tures of oppres­sion we feel every day, but they do allow us to tap out of our bod­ies tem­porar­i­ly. We sweat when we dance, and that sweat is the residue of all the tox­ins and stress­es built up with­in. All this is to say that clubs help keep us alive, and once we’re in, we help try to keep each oth­er alive, too.

Out­side of the USA, which par­ties are clos­est to your heart? 

Tough one! I’d have to say Dia­logue in Bris­tol, But­tons in Berlin and Dance With Pride in Ams­ter­dam because these par­ties are real­ly about queer­ness and cre­at­ing an equi­table dance floor. Dur­ing ADE last year I went to the Spiel­raum x Bassiani par­ty and all I have to say about it is: Jesus, that was a fuck­ing par­ty! Zit­to slayed my tits off. But also, shout out to Super­sti­tion in Lon­don, where I’ve spent many, many, many nights. I’m also dying to check out Mam­ba Negra in Brazil and Bassiani in Tbilisi. 

Any DJs from the Rich­mond you’d like to shout out?

Def­i­nite­ly! Angel Flow­ers is the tick­et. Get into her right now!


Relat­ed

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