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A cultural history of global electronic dance music countercultures, Technomad explores the pleasurable and activist trajectories of post-rave culture. The book documents an emerging network of techno-tribes, exploring their pleasure principles and cultural politics. Attending to sound system culture, electro-humanitarianism, secret sonic societies, teknivals and other gatherings, intentional parties, revitalisation movements and counter-colonial interventions, Technomad investigates how the dance party has been harnessed for transgressive and progressive ends – for manifold freedoms. Seeking freedom from moral prohibitions and standards, pleasure in rebellion, refuge from sexual and gender prejudice, exile from oppression, rupturing aesthetic boundaries, re-enchanting the world, reclaiming space, fighting for “the right to party,” and responding to a host of critical concerns, electronic dance music cultures are multivalent sites of resistance.

Drawing on extensive ethnographic, netographic and documentary research, Technomad details the post-rave trajectory through various local sites and global scenes, with each chapter attending to unique developments in the techno counterculture: e.g. Spiral Tribe, teknivals, psytrance, Burning Man, Reclaim the Streets, Earthdream. The book offers an original, nuanced theory of resistance to assist understanding of these developments. This cultural history of hitherto uncharted territory will be of interest to students of cultural, performance, music, media, and new social movement studies, along with enthusiasts of dance culture and popular politics.

Published: Nov 1, 2009


Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures Graham St John
Acknowledgments Graham St John
The Rave-olution? Graham St John
Sound System Exodus: Tekno-Anarchy in the UK and Beyond Graham St John
Secret Sonic Societies and Other Renegades of Sound Graham St John
New Tribal Gathering: Vibe-Tribes and Mega-Raves Graham St John
The Technoccult, Psytrance, and the Millennium Graham St John
Rebel Sounds and Dance Activism: Rave and the Carnival of Protest Graham St John
Outback Vibes: Dancing Up Country Graham St John
Hardcore, You Know the Score Graham St John
End Matter
Endnotes Graham St John
Bibliography Graham St John
Index Graham St John

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'This book is an enjoyable and useful read.'
Popular Music
, 2011

'An enjoyable, stimulating and informative book, and it represents a valuable addition to the written histories of dance music. While it is essential reading for anyone with an interest in EDMC, its broader cultural scope should lend it an appeal for anyone keen on exploring the continued significance of music in a countercultural context, and for those who take an interest in cultural politics, popular music and protest, and resistance movements. Its broad geographical framework provides a template not only for further studies of EDMC, but also for future investigations into the intersections between music and counterculture.'
Perfect Beat
, Vol 11, no 2 (2010)

'Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures is the most wide-ranging and detailed of all the books on rave. More than the study of a musical movement or genre, Technomad offers an alternate history of cultural politics since the 1960s, from hippies and Acid Tests through the sound systems and ‘vibe-tribes’ of the 1990s and beyond. St John maps the long cultural front of ‘hedonists, anarchists, artists, travellers, exiles, queers, pirates, hackers, [and] visionaries’ who transformed the relationship between transgressive and progressive politics in the cultural field. Like Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces, Technomad makes unexpected but entirely convincing connections between people, movements and events. Like Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, St John’s book introduces us to unknown heroes, committed geniuses and genuine revolutionaries. Beautifully written, with a genuinely international perspective on electronic dance music culture, Technomad is one of the best books on music I’ve read in some time.'
Professor Will Straw, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University

'Technomad offers important insights into the meeting points between countercultural discourses and post-rave techno cultures. Optimistic regarding the progressive potential of outdoor techno-trance gatherings, this well-documented study traces the complex genealogy of a global nomadic ‘technoccult’, with emphasis on Europe, North-America and Australia. Not to be missed by anyone interested in the study of rave cultures, countercultures and festivals.'
Dr Hillegonda Rietveld, Reader in Cultural Studies, London South Bank University

'A critical utopianism is articulated and celebrated with a textual energy too rare in today’s cultural studies. Graham St John is wide-eyed in order to look more closely. I recommend his shining and grubby doofscape to all interested in the radical possibilities and limitations of contemporary culture.'
Professor George McKay, University of Salford

'St John's Technomad is an outstanding theoretical and empirical contribution to the emerging field of Electronic Dance Music studies. St John offers ground breaking and complex theoretical discussions on resistance, counterculture, music/media studies and globalization. Written in an absolutely mesmerizing style, Technomad offers invaluable insider accounts and documents crucial events in EDM history. This book is already an all time classic, and indispensable to anyone interested in the diversity of EDM practices and intentions, and its multiple impacts on contemporary global cultural politics.'
Anna Gavanas, University of Leeds