Degree Name

GEOG401: Human Geography (Honours)




Professor Gordon Waitt and Dr Scott McKinnon


Individual and collective subjectivities are central to geographical research on clubbing (Binnie, 2014). The sexual politics of clubbing is usually approached along homonormative conceptualisations that position clubs together with narrowed expressions of gayness such as young, white, gym-toned bodies. Drawing on feminist, corporeal geographies inspired by Elspeth Probyn (2003) and Gill Valentine (2007), this research argues that such an approach to the politics of inclusion and exclusion may overlook the diversity of gay subjectivities that clubbing experiences give rise to. This thesis draws on qualitative fieldwork conducted on one nightclub, Palms, on Oxford Street, Sydney, to argue that the politics of inclusion and exclusion needs to attend foremost to how ideas about sexuality are configured through the materiality of clubs and affective elements like music, lighting and other bodies. An interpretation is offered as to how Palms is embedded in sets of ideas about Oxford Street that project meanings about who belongs in the club based on intersections of age, gender, sexuality, class, and dress codes. The queuing practice outside Palms illustrates how the club enables particular classed, gendered and sexual subjectivities to flourish. Inside the club, the ‘light vibe’ expressed through a love and vulnerability to ‘uncool’ music and a ‘daggy’ decor demonstrated how Palms sits in contrast to understandings of clubbing being defined by drug-taking or pretentious codes based on age, music and fashion. In the context of arguments about post-gay life, or mobile gay cultures experienced in Sydney, this thesis expands understandings of clubs, clubbing and gayness in queer times. Knowledge produced in this thesis calls for more research into the embodied dimensions of a night-out that consider more spatially situated evaluations on the politics of clubbing.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.