The fake thrills of urban nightlife

January 14, 2008
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Sunday’s Toronto Star ran an interesting article on sociologist David Grazian’s revealing portrait of Philadelphia’s thriving club scene in On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife. Summarizing the book the Star‘s Ryan Bigge writes:

Although Grazian discusses the sophisticated public relations matrix that helps bring in customers, he’s more interested in exploring the paradox that club goers allow themselves to be willingly hustled. Making a comparison to movies filled with computer-generated effects, Grazian suggests, “People are willing to suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy a thrilling lie.”
Which means the tens of thousands of club goers—the actual number is the subject of considerable contention, but even the lowest two-night estimate is 40,000—that cram Toronto’s entertainment district on Friday and Saturday nights, spending millions of dollars per year on drinks, are marks of their own making. Of course, just because the game is rigged, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself, as the eternal popularity of Las Vegas demonstrates.

Read the rest of the article on the Toronto Star website or read this excerpt from the first chapter of the book. The press’s website also features an interview with Grazian about his previous book on a similar topic, Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs.

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