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Dancing in the dark: Is club photography really necessary?

Documenting a night out is part of dance music culture – but it can have a detrimental effect on parties and the people who go to them

  • Aurora Mitchell
  • 5 June 2017

Being in the club is one of the few times that your body is not hyper visible. The darkness becomes a cloak to wrap yourself in, to reveal parts of yourself that you would feel too uncomfortable or shy to reveal in the light. For people who feel uncomfortable with themselves or feel that their body is not accepted in daily life, this time when your body morphs into a mass of other bodies in a barely lit room can be vital.

That’s because the act of “going out” often extends beyond the desire to experience music on a Funktion-One and the chance to hear that new, unreleased Joy Orbison track, for example. Dancing has a healing and meditative quality; it provides a chance to momentarily let your body exhale from everything that exists outside of the club for a few hours. But when you add a camera, it changes the dynamic of a situation in which many people don’t want to be seen.

Documenting club experiences can be a positive thing – it’s natural to want a permanent reminder of a night. But the way in which that’s done can have an effect on other people. More often than not, documentation through photography can be an unnecessary imposition, whether via an official party photographer or personally by phone. Having the searing strength of a flashbulb cause you to see bright patterns in your vision shortly after is annoying at the best of times but when you are trying to dance in the dark, it becomes even more irritating.

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