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New class studies nightlife as an art form

Published: March 6, 2014, 12:46 am ET
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Courtesy of Olivia Simons
Drag queens perform for an audience containing students from the nightlife class.
Collegian Reporter

“Nightlife as an Art Form” is a course in the department of theatre and dance that allows students to attend concerts, throw parties and learn to deejay, all for academic credit.

Professor Madison Moore has been teaching at University of Richmond as a postdoctoral fellow since fall 2012. Moore has also taught a class at Richmond that focused on Lady Gaga and the persona she had created. In his nightlife course, he challenges his class to examine the ways nightlife reflects social change and human behavior.

“If you think about it, so much art, music, fashion, countercultural movements and the like are all born in nightlife,” Moore said. “My whole approach to scholarship and academia is to take topics that people don’t think are at all serious and to reveal in fact just how poignant they really are.”

The most important thing Moore hopes students will take away from the course is that studying nightlife is really a way of understanding cultural history, he said.

“In class we talk about issues that are relative to all of us,” senior Emma Jordan said. “He shares his personal experiences and he is really easy to relate to.”

Moore brings a fresh perspective to Richmond’s campus, Jordan said. Moore has lived in and traveled to cities including Paris, London, Chicago and New York. However, his favorite city is Berlin, Germany, which is a creative city, home to a deeply hedonistic, inspiring and gritty nightlife, he said.

Moore is currently a DJ and one of his goals in the next few years is to release his own electronic dance music tracks, he said. Moore used to write for Interview Magazine, which gave him a lot of experience with talking to musicians and artists, he said. Moore currently writes for Thought Catalog as well.

During the semester, students are required to attend different cultural events in the Richmond area, such as a drag queen show at a gay bar in Richmond and a rap concert in Washington, D.C. After, the students will reflect on their experiences and how they shape and reflect what nightlife represents.

“The class trips are meant to take the theory and ideas we are learning in a boring, boxed-in classroom setting in a safe, leafy suburb and see them lived out, for real, on the gritty urban dance floor,” Moore said.

As a final project, the class is required to create a party at a venue in downtown Richmond. The students work on this project throughout the semester. Groups of four students are responsible for finding a musical performer for the party, working on the promotion of the party, managing the budget, choosing the theme and booking the venue. This party is open to anyone who wants to attend, Moore said, and alcohol will not be served.

“Alcohol is so often used as a crutch to enjoy nightlife, when in fact there are so many other, more natural ‘highs’ you can experience: an amazing performance, a great DJ set and a super tight crowd,” Moore said.

Each student paid a small lab fee for the class, similar to what is paid for course books or lab materials in an art class, that funds the budget for the party, Moore said. The class is also planning to have a small fundraising campaign.

“It’s probably the first final exam I am excited to work on,” senior Kendall Bossidy said.

Contact reporter Olivia Simons at olivia.simons@richmond.edu

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