chapter  12
27 Pages

Liminal Culture and Global Movement: The Transitional World of Psytrance

ByGRAHAM ST JOHN

Festivals are the critical cultural hubs of the global psytrance movement, where on any day in 2010 major events attracting between 1,000 and 40,000 people are transpiring somewhere in the world. This chapter charts the complex transformational character of psytrance with particular attention to its festivals. While recent scholars seek to understand participation in electronic dance music cultures (including psytrance) as something of a rite of passage experience enabling transition from “preliminal” to “postliminal” conditions (in the schematic of Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner), and popular discourse credits an effi cacy to dance events reckoned as sites for self-transcendence, social transformation and/or the transmission of values, psytrance possesses a liminality that is protracted and a transition that is complex. It is this kind of hyper-liminality that appears to fuel the cultural movement of psytrance, its super-abundant festal life enervating the lifestyles of its participants. The psytrance festival is a sophisticated realm. While a liminalised world with an unpredictable telos, a domain of excess and risk, the psytrance festival is also a context for conscious ritualising in response to perceived crises of self and world-an arena of ethical consumerism and disciplinary action. As the multitudinous hub of this liminal culture, then, the festival provides the performative staging ground for diverse sacrifi cial logics and ideas of the sacred around which such logics orbit. Through specifi c attention to my research experience at festivals in Italy (Sonica), Australia (Rainbow Serpent) and Portugal (Boom), beginning with a discussion of psychedelic ritualisation (or indeed entheogenic liminalisation), this chapter investigates the hyper characteristics of liminality in the present.