Club culture has inspired lots of literature since the late 1980s and some of the more recent non-fiction publications have proved edifying and evocative. When you’re not on the dancefloor, read all about it:
10 Books of Club Culture
11. My Life And The Paradise Garage by Mel Cheren (24 Hours For Life)
Essentially an autobiography, but also a riveting read that puts the birth, decline and renaissance of disco into affecting context.
10. Night Fever ed by Richard Benson
Top-notch compilation of club writing from The Face. The scenes, from Brixton roller discos in the 1980s to the early 1990s jazz dance boom, are evoked with a lingering frisson. You might not have been there, but you’ll wish you had.
9. BIS: Night Fever: A Design History of Club Culture
The nightclub as avant-garde architecture: from Studio 54 to the Double Club
Nightclubs and discothèques are hotbeds of contemporary culture. Since the 20th century, they have been centers of the avant-garde that question the established codes of social life and experiment with different realities, merging interior and furniture design, graphics and art with
8. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton
Lively and surprising story of the evolution of the disc jockey, from early 20th century deckmanship to the emergence of the global DJ superstar.
7. Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds
Subtitled A Journey Through Dance Music And Rave Culture, Reynolds’s chunky 1998 tome has an academic tone concerning ecstasy-influenced sounds. But it is very wide-ranging, and has a cover-mounted CD (including Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash, naturally).
6. Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel by Dave Haslam
Haslam travels Britain talking to fellow deckticians and promoters (Jimmy Savile to Sasha) to get their take on developing DJ culture. Excellent anecdotes, chatty style.
5. Adventures In Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture by Sheryl Garratt
This work charts the rise of house music from its roots in the underground, black, gay scene in Chicago. It discusses how the “rave” scene has changed the face of youth culture, and addresses the issues of drugs and commercialization. There are interviews with key players and stars.
4. Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital by Sarah Thornton
Focusing on youth cultures that revolve around dance clubs and raves in Great Britain and the U.S., Sarah Thornton highlights the values of authenticity and hipness and explores the complex hierarchies that emerge within the domain of popular culture. She portrays club cultures as “taste cultures” brought together by micro-media like flyers and listings, transformed into self-conscious “subcultures” by such niche media as the music and style press, and sometimes recast as “movements” with the aid of such mass media as tabloid newspaper front pages.
3. The A-Z of Club Culture: Twenty Years of Losing it by Ben Osborne
Expanding on Ben Osborne’s column in The Guardian, this is a guide to 20 years of club culture. Drawing on research, interviews with DJs and musicians, and stories from the clubbers, it discusses who’s who and what’s what in contemporary dance. It runs the gamut from afro-funk, handbag and hardbag, to zion train and zippies. It also includes coverage of seminal clubs, crucial music genres, clubbing anecdotes, and club drugs.
2. Club Kids: From Speakeasies to Boombox and Beyond by Raven Smith
Club Kids: From Speakeasies to Boombox and Beyond is a stunning visual study and rigorous critical analysis of the social trends relating to ‘club culture’. The recent emergence of high-end clubs, which emphasise fashion rather than music, have become sanctuaries for misfits. Club Kids analyses the way in which club regulars condense all the aspects of their underground, eclectic, emerging culture, into the nocturnal hours.
1. High Society: The Real Voices of Club Culture by Melissa Harrison
The voice of the E generation takes a look at clubbing.