Electronic Dance Music Culture and Religion: An Overview

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This article provides a comprehensive and critical overview of existing research that investigates (directly and indirectly) the religio-spiritual dimensions of electronic dance music culture (EDMC) (from disco, through house, to post-rave forms). Studies of the culture and religion of EDMC are explored under four broad groupings: the cultural religion of EDMC expressed through ‘ritual’ and ‘festal’; subjectivity, corporeality and the phenomenological dance experience (especially ‘ecstasy’ and ‘trance’); the dance community and a sense of belonging (the ‘vibe’ and ‘tribes’); and EDMC as a new ‘spirituality of life’. Moving beyond the cultural Marxist approaches of the 1970s, which held youth (sub)cultural expressions as ‘ineffectual’ and ‘tragic’, and the postmodernist approaches of the early 1990s, which held rave to be an ‘implosion of meaning’, recent anthropological and sociological approaches recognise that the various manifestations of this youth cultural phenomenon possess meaning, purpose and significance for participants. Contemporary scholarship thus conveys the presence of religiosity and spirituality within contemporary popular cultural formations. In conclusion, I suggest that this and continuing scholarship can offer useful counterpoint to at least one recent account (of clubbing) that overlooks the significance of EDMC through a restricted and prejudiced apprehension of ‘religion’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalCulture and Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


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