Part of the Tribe: Crews, Residence, and Affiliation in Underground Dance Music Scenes


  • Christopher David Charles University of Bristol IASPM UK


Promotion, Psytrance, Crews, Residence, Affiliation, EDM


With diverse roots including the Jamaican sound system, the New York hip-hop collective, and the UK rave crews of the early 1990s, the event ‘crew’ is an important organising force in contemporary electronic dance music cultures. These small groups of individuals are responsible for bringing together performers, audience, equipment, and venue. This is rarely profitable and in fact tends to incur losses – most crewmembers willingly put in their time and effort for free. This work is vital to the maintenance of local EDM scenes; however, it has often gone unnoticed by scholars and the media. Drawing on my recent research into psychedelic trance (psytrance) culture in Bristol, UK, this paper details the activities of three urban event crews in a thriving local scene. It then looks at the concepts of ‘residence’ and ‘affiliation’ which denote formal or quasi-formal relationships between artists, crews, and record labels. Throughout, the paper aims to illuminate the role that these relationships play in musical careers and the structure of music scenes more widely.



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