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Decentralized Dance Party Manifesto: Boomboxes, Anarchy, and the Commons. A public talk by Dr. Michael B. MacDonald. Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Decentralized Dance Party Manifesto: Boomboxes, Anarchy, and the Commons


A public talk by Dr. Michael B. MacDonald, University of Alberta
Friday, September 23rd, 2011 @ 4-6 pm
University of Guelph, 132 MacKinnon Building

In early 2011, Vancouver, Canada’s Decentralized Dance Party (DDP) released The Party Manifesto. A double play on the word party, the manifesto was a call to social movement, in keeping with Foucault’s assertion of the biopolitical age as a collapse of social and political life. The DDP remixes urban dance music with the politics of the urban commons releasing a dance floor manifesto aimed at bringing freedom and health back to the body, physically and politically. Tom and Gary, the facilitators of the DDP, strap an iPod and portable radio transmitter onto themselves becoming the potential for a mobile dance party. By broadcasting the party coordinates and party radio frequency in advance, the aural space of the commons begins to transform when, at the announced time and location, portable boomboxes tuned into the DDP frequency broadcast deep beats; a decentralized dance party moves across the urban landscape stitching alienated bodies together in belonging.

What is at stake when the biopolitical power of the human commons is liberated through dance from private ownership? What would an anarchist dance party look like and how does the state relate to this “unlawful” community expression? The DDP are not simply asking these question, they are taking the negotiations of the commons into the streets, wrapping it up in a costume, organizing it with the deep pulse of a DJ, a decentralized sound system, and testing the limits of the commons. This is party praxis!: the meeting of anarchist theory with the urban dance party.

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We’ll all be more innovative if we participate in collaborative webs and share more openly. Creativity is always a collaboration and it’s always a form of improvisation, written large in the social world.

– Keith Sawyer