Music, in all its most diverse styles and modes of enjoyment, is pervasive in the youth’s life, following them in different daily situations, each one with its own soundtrack. Music not only dominates the youth’s daily life but also their social relations: the musical consumption among the youth is, in fact, a major marker of communities’ taste and a sign of group differentiation, around which are structured micro-networks of dense sociabilities, previously conceived as subcultures or countercultures, and nowadays usually known as flows, scenes or youth tribes.
On the other hand, being fundamentally an instrumental and strongly rhythmic musical production, marked by the cadence of accelerated and constant beats, this music style also has in common the function of putting the bodies in movement. In fact, its basic modality of enjoyment assumes the exploring of pleasure of dance sensorial experience in multitude – an oceanic experience -, sometimes intensified using psychoactive products – an ecstatic experience.
Among the distinct musical styles currently available, the electronic music dance has been highlighted as one of the most relevant among the contemporary youth cultures, given the huge expansion and diversification of its production and consumption. Prolific in quite varied sub-styles (techno, house, trance, drum’n bass etc.), with historical matrices in constant expansion, the electronic music dance has in common the fact of creating sonorities with technological and digital equipment of sound production and synthesis, which have come to be more sophisticated – as samplers, CDJs, computers, controllers, sequencers, equalizers, synths, mixers and other tools that allow the clipping, the assembly, the creation and the overlapping of songs and sounds.
As the main responsible for the selection, mixing, sequence and, in some cases, production of music that make the bodies to move in the dance floor, the DJ has a unique protagonist in the electronic music cultures. Presently, their protagonism exceeds the more underground youth scenes, ascending to the limelight in the social landscape: in fact, nowadays, many DJs acquire the social statute of a celebrity, of a superstar. They travel all over the world in tours among the major clubs, parties and music festivals, obtaining money, pleasure, personal accomplishment and social recognition of their activity. This way, they are not only musical references for increasingly younger people but also references to a lifestyle identified by success, fame and glamour.
In this scene, Bara refers hyperbolizing, “[…] all the children born from the 1960’s and the 1970’s are potentially DJs” (Bara, 1999, p. 37). This means that in the scope of the most recent generations, the DJing activity became very attractive not only from the point of view of the electronic music consumption but also from the point of view of its production, exciting many young people to be DJs and trying its lifestyle. The recent proliferation of DJing and music production schools in Portugal, more concentrated in Lisbon and Porto, is quite illustrative of the current attraction of youth to the DJ’s world.
Considering that traditionally DJing is an activity learned in the do-it-yourself (DIY) format, that is, in self-learning and informal learning frameworks among peers within the scope of youth groups, how to explain the emergence of these training schools? It is argued in this article that this phenomenon expresses a pedagogization process of the DJ activity, that is, the increasing displacement, appropriation, formalization and institutionalization of the experiential knowledge that constitute the DJ’s know-how in forms of school culture, until now informally produced and reproduced within the scope of youth micro sociability. Which objective conditions fostered this process? Which subjective meanings does it acquire among its protagonists?
To answer to this set of questions, we depart from a theoretical referential anchored to the post-subcultural perspectives of the studies on youth cultures. However, the glance on the practices that are developed in them is here dislocated, focusing them not as convivialist practices of consumption and leisure, producers of group identities, but as labor practices, with potential value of employability, as they can guarantee the subsistence and the existence of young people in the social world, and producing their professional identities.
In this perspective, it is explored the hypothesis that the DJing pedagogization process is related with the increasing symbolic and social revalorization of this activity, currently turned into a dream job for an increasing number of young people. Through DJing, the young people passion for music has a chance of being exerted as not only a leisure practice and music consumption but also as a means of living and affirmation of their social existence, placing them in the scene and living from the scene where they like to live. On the other hand, it also results from the gradual accumulation of knowledge in the field of musical production, as well as of the increasing sophistication and complexification of knowledge and equipment manipulated by DJs in their practice. It will be concluded that the recent placement of DJing in training schools will reshape the traditional do-it-yourself form in which the activity was learned, bringing it closer to a do-it-for-yourself configuration, considering the complexity and the sophistication of the (technological, theoretical and survival) skills demanded of a DJ in the present days.
The empirical material used results from nine individual in-depth, comprehensive interviews, with young individuals aspiring to be a DJ, enrol now at DJ Gavpop DISC JOCKEY TRAINING ACADEMY, check the information on the home page of this website for more information or click on the contact us for more details.