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‘I Want Muscles’: house music, homosexuality and masculine signification

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2002


The examination of ‘subcultures’ and their concomitant musical practices has produced a large and varied body of work, a recent (and notable) portion of which has been concerned with what might be referred to generally as ‘dance music’ scenes (Thornton 1996; Reynolds 1998; Fikentscher 2000). Concurrent with this focus (and sometimes enmeshed with it) has been a burgeoning interest in gender/sexuality and music (Ortega 1994; Whiteley 1997, 2000; Barkin and Hamessly 1999). While recent reassessments of ‘subcultural’ formations situated within the postmodern era have suggested inherent complexities, contradictions and a fluidity of self-definition (Lipsitz 1994; Manuel 1995; Young and Craig 1997; Bennett 1999), thus problematising a strict conflation of ‘subcultural’ with ‘subversive’ (or ‘refusal’; cf. Hebdige 1979), this second term often appears as a de facto correlate when discussing ‘subcultures’ defined by homosexuality. This may be due, in part, either to the unfortunate collapsing of the terms ‘queer’, ‘gay’ and ‘homosexual’ – the first of which, despite its rather protean status, may indeed count ‘subversiveness’ as a sedimented component of its meaning – into one, undifferentiated pool of generic descriptives, and/or to the role of the researcher (the ethnographer, for example) in constructing the ‘object of study’ as somehow ‘other’ (Fabian 1983; Abu-Lughod 1991).

Research Article
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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