“Surely people who go clubbing don’t read”: Dispatches from the Dancefloor and Clubland in Print


  • Simon Morrison University of Chester




music journalism, gonzo journalism, chemical generation literature, electronic dance music culture (EDMC)


In the context of the UK dance club scene during the 1990s, this article redresses a presumption that “people who go clubbing don’t read”. It will thereby test a proposed lacuna in original journalist voices in related print media. The examination is based on key UK publications that focus on the musical tropes and modes of the dancefloor, and on responses from a selection of authors and editors involved in British club culture during this era The style of this article is itself a methodology that deploys ‘gonzo’ strategies typical of earlier New Journalism, in reaching for a new approach to academicism. In seeking to discover whether the idea that clubbers do not read is due to inauthentic media re/presentations of their experience on the dancefloor, or with specific subcultural discourses, the article concludes that the authenticity of club cultural re/presentation may well be found in fictional responses.

Author Biography

Simon Morrison, University of Chester

Simon A. Morrison is Senior Lecturer at University of Chester, where he is heads up its Music Journalism degree. He is currently researching a PhD within the School of Music at University of Leeds, interrogating Electronic Dance Music Culture and the way it is re/presented in literature. Simon contributed the chapter 'DJ-Driven Literature: A Linguistic Remix' on the role and function of DJs in literature the edited collection DJ Cultures in the Mix (2013, Bloomsbury Academic) and also contributed to the 2015 Bloomsbury title How To Write About Music. He has also been awarded a Santander bursary to visit New York, in order to further research a title he is currently co-authoring for publisher Reaktion Discotheque: The Revolutions of Dance Music Culture. Simon has also presented this work at various conferences in the UK and overseas, including the 2012 IASPM conference, and conferences in Portugal and Holland. Alongside this academic work, Simon has worked within the music industry for the last 20 years. Author of the book Discombobulated, a collection of columns for DJmag and published in the UK and US by Headpress - Simon has reported on the nightclub scene everywhere from Beijing to Kosovo. He has also produced and presented TV and radio and for two summers edited Ministry of Sound’s Ibiza magazine.


Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). www.abc.org.uk Accessed: 26 July 2013

Baron, J. 1989. Tripping Yarns. NME, 22 December 22. http://homepages.force9.net/king1/Media/Articles/NME-2December1989-TripCity.htm Accessed: 20 September 2013.

Barthes, R. 2009. Mythologies. London: Vintage.

Beeler, S. 2007. Dance, Drugs and Escape: The Club Scene in Literature, Film and Television Since the Late 1980s. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co.

Bhardwa, B. 2012. Review of Discombobulated – Dispatches From The Wrong Side, in Dancecult, Volume 4, number 1.

https://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/dancecult/article/view/338/336 Accessed: 3 April 2014.

Brinkley, D. 2000. Editor’s Note. Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968-1976. London: Bloomsbury.

Champion, S. –

Ed. 1997. Disco Biscuits: New Fiction from the Chemical Generation. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Generation E. In Steve Redhead Ed. Repetitive Beat Generation. Edinburgh: Canongate: 13-23.

Cohen, S. 2002. Folk Devils and Moral Panics. London: Routledge.

De Saussure, F. 1983. Course in General Linguistics. La Salle, IL: Open Court Classics.

Hall, S. and Jefferson, T. Eds. 1976. Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-war Britain. London: Hutchison.

Haslam, D. 1998. DJ Culture. In Steve Redhead Ed. The Clubcultures Reader: Readings in Popular Cultural Studies. Oxford: Blackwell: 150-161.

Hebdige, D. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen.

Hellman, J. 1981. Fables of Fact: The New Journalism as New Fiction. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Hollowell, J. 1977. Fact and Fiction: The New Journalism and the Nonfiction Novel. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Huq, R. 2006. Beyond Subculture – Pop, Youth and Identity in a Postcolonial World. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, T. 2005. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author takes his own life, RKPuma.com. 20 February. http://www.rkpuma.com/gonzo.htm Accessed: September 27 2013.

Mailer, N. 1970. The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel / The Novel as History. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Miller, T. 1989. Trip City. London: Avernus.

Morrison, S. A. –

Dispatches From The Wrong Side. DJ Magazine. Various issues.

The Last Supper. DJ Magazine. Issue 411 (April).

Discombobulated: Dispatches From The Wrong Side. London: Headpress.

DJ-Driven Literature: A Linguistic Remix. Bernado Attias, Anna Gavanas and Hillegonda Rietveld Eds. DJ Culture in the Mix: Power, Technology, and Social Change in Electronic Dance Music. New York: Bloomsbury: 291–314.

Muggleton, D. and Weinzierl, R. 2003. The Post-Subcultures Reader. Oxford: Berg.

Rajan, A. 2013. Techno In Barcelona, The Indie’s Founding Fathers, And My Advice To Australia’s Cricket Team. New Statesman, 28 June - 4 July: 20.

Redhead, S. –

Repetitive Beat Generation. Edinburgh: Canongate.

The End-Of-The-Century Party: Youth and Pop Towards 2000. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.

Subculture to Clubcultures: An Introduction to Popular Cultural Studies. Oxford and Malden MA: Blackwell.

Rietveld, H. C. 1993. Living The Dream. Steve Redhead Ed. Rave Off: Politics and Deviance in Contemporary Youth Culture. Aldershot: Avebury: 41-90.

The Sun. 1989. Spaced Out: 11,000 youngsters go drug crazy at Britain’s biggest-ever Acid party. 24 June. Page 1.

Thompson, H. S. 1979. The Great Shark Hunt. London: Summit Books.

Thornton, S. 1995. Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity.

Warner, A. 2000. Celtic Trails. In Steve Redhead Ed. Repetitive Beat Generation. Edinburgh: Canongate: 127–134.

Weingarten, M. ─

Who’s Afraid Of Tom Wolfe? How New Journalism Rewrote The World. London: Aurum.

The Gang That Wouldn’t Shoot Straight. New York: Crown.

Welsh, I. 2002. Glue. London: Vintage.

Wolfe, T. and Johnson, E.W. Eds. 1990. The New Journalism. London: Picador


Additional Files





Music Journalism: Articles