Pride or Prejudice? Contradictions of the Gay Scenes in Los Angeles, Berlin, and Amsterdam

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By Sam Sciarra

Within the context of western democratic nations, unprecedented human rights advances have characterized the past fifty years for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Of course, we cannot deny that there is still a very long way to go—LGBT citizens of certain nations like the United States still face much discrimination and lack crucial freedoms (such as the right to get married, among others). However, it is still important to recognize that this increased societal acceptance of LGBT people has resulted in the creation of distinct yet similar gay youth subcultures throughout the cosmopolitan west. These gay ‘scenes,’ which primarily revolve around the nightclubs and various nighttime happenings of large urban centers, have become the preeminent space in which homosexual youth form their identities and engage in a decision making process concerning the type of gay person they want to become. This is most likely because, as Cattan and Vanolo (2013: 1166) suggest in their research on the emotional geographies of gay nightlife, “clubbing entails seeking people, places, relationships, and ways of being which provide physical and emotional security, which are often denied in the heterosexist world.” Continue reading

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Two cities, one genre, countless vibes: Exploring the hip-hop community in Amsterdam and Los Angeles

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By Ariella Abrams and Andrew Frantela

Growing up in Los Angeles has provided us with the ideal environment to be avid consumers of hip-hop music. Prior to exploring Amsterdam, we had never been exposed to anything but the American version of the genre. Conducting this research while on exchange in Amsterdam, it was intriguing to see a starkly different perspective of the hip-hop genre—the Dutch perspective, or ‘Nederhop’. Furthermore, we were particularly interested in the opposing concepts of ‘underground’ hip-hop and ‘mainstream’ hip-hop. The underground scene seemed more authentic to us, not to mention the fact that underground hip-hop is just cool. We delved into research that would enlighten us about what causes the differentiation and how the players in the scene interact with the genre. Since we both have our own experiences with the underground hip-hop scene in Los Angeles, we decided to compare underground hip-hop scenes in Los Angeles and Amsterdam. While approaching our research, we were mindful not to employ any prior biased opinions on hip-hop or particular artists. We allowed for our interviewees to come to their own conclusions about the purposes of the genre and the way they feel when listening to hip-hop. This resulted in many of them having very different opinions on the subject, and not hesitating to voice them passionately. Continue reading

Fuck Art? Street art lost in transition

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By Ed Little

Abstract: This paper delves deep into the process of ‘commercialization’ of street art while looking to question why outsiders use the label ‘commercialization’. It not only garners the opinions of Amsterdam’s most renowned street artists but also tracks the history of street art in the city and its interconnectedness with graffiti. Through contrasting the life worlds of street art and fine art, it illustrates how subcultural misperceptions originate from different value systems. Contemporary fine art strives towards profit and success (with a tinge of elitism thrown in there as well) while graffiti writers and street artists (at least at first) tend to thrive for fame and reputation. Only once street art becomes commercial do definitions and labels begin to overlap as street art starts to weigh in on the fine art commercial space. However, while street art is transitioning into new spaces and market places, this transition in reality is much more natural and organic than presupposed and thus should be seen as a positive abridgement as the subcultural life world takes its first steps into the mainstream world. Continue reading