The Politics of Ecstasy

When analysing contemporary and ancient political motives behind the repression of the collective altered states of consciousness, we can see the repetition of a dynamic of polarisation between those who support the need for these spaces vs those who oppose them. In this interactive conversation with the public, we will reflect on the current systems of raving repression, concerning the latest anti rave laws in France. But also to the American „Rave Act“ ( Reducing American vulnerability to Ecstasy Act 2003) the British „Repetitive Beats Act“ (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) and invite a debate on how we can become aware of the motives behind both perspectives and how to transcend the need for polarization, in order to reach a less repressive, yet safer and more conscious and mature approach to raving.

We will start with a screening of video essay „The Politics of Ecstasy“ by Chiara Baldini and Rafael Kozdron that is narrating the history of the „Bacchanalia Affair“, the name given to the repression of the Bacchanalia in 186 BCE in ancient Rome. The work outlines the striking similarities between ancient Dionysian practices and certain modern-day electronic music events, which often share similar values (like inclusivity, LGBTQ+ community, female empowerment, safe spaces, etc.) and „techniques of ecstasy“ (dancing to repetitive beats and ingesting psychotropic substances). Such features lead to the posing of similar challenges to mainstream society, triggering either enthusiastic support or ferocious repression. The film has been commissioned by Q21 Vienna and Bogomir Doringer, for the exhibition “Dance of Urgency” that took place in Spring-Summer 2019.


Chiara Baldini
Ivan March


Bogomir Doringer (The University of Applied Arts Vienna)

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