RA Exchange

EX.679 McKenzie Wark

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Episode notes

"There are books about techno and rave, but let's fill in the blanks." The scholar and activist talks about her book Raving, bringing club culture into academia and more. McKenzie Wark, professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the New School, is a scholar and raver who has written extensively about the world of dance music and its surrounding subculture. Most recently, Wark penned Raving, a first-person account of her experiences in the Brooklyn queer and trans rave scene. Wark's writing is a unique blend of memoir and literary criticism, and Raving takes readers straight into the heart of undisclosed locations around New York nightlife. Raving to techno is an art and a technique at which queer and trans bodies might be particularly adept, she writes—but it's also for anyone who lets the beat seduce them. In her conversation with the Brooklyn-based DJ Alyce Currier, AKA Lychee, Wark talks about how the book came to be. She explains how entire chapters of the book wrote themselves out in her head, and how she carefully chose 26 characters—all of which have a letter as a name—to represent the friends and acquaintances of hers from the world of queer nightlife. Her own relationship with raving started when she was still living in Australia. At the time, she says, she hadn't yet transitioned and was experiencing an ambient sense of gender dysphoria that only dancing and nightlife could placate. She didn't actually transition until she was in her late 50s, in 2017. "After I went on hormones, I couldn't write," she says. "But the pressure [to write Raving] was enabling, and I found my voice in this book." Wark and Currier also talk about what it means to bring club culture into academia, working with fellow rave scholar madison moore and how parties can serve the communities they're designed to cater to instead of exacerbating existing social structures that already exist. Listen to the episode in full.