Denise Dalphond

Denise Dalphond is a doctoral candidate in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. She conducted ethnographic research on electronic music culture in Detroit from 2008-2010. Her dissertation, titled “Detroit Players: Wax, Tracks, and Soul in Electronic Music,” documents the thriving techno, house, and electro scenes in southeast Michigan, including the African American history of electronic music in Detroit and the Midwest.



"Eclecticism in Detroit: Diverse Dance Party Scenes in Electronic Music"

Electronic music emerged among African Americans in Detroit during the 1970s and 1980s, grew immensely in popularity during the late 1980s in Europe, and partially transformed into a suburban, white rave culture in Detroit and the Midwest during the 1990s. In the 2000s, electronic music culture in Detroit thrives in ethnic and sonic diversity. Electronic music, like techno, house, and electro, is produced using a wide range of analog electronic and computer based digital instruments and software. Electronic music in Detroit grew out of a diverse array of cultural influences during the 1970s including radio, record pools, house parties, cabarets, and dance clubs. Primarily created and consumed by African Americans in Detroit during the 1970s and 1980s, electronic music culture presents opportunities to examine race, class, and sexuality. Detroit’s queer club scene and Black middle class party scene intersect in thriving reciprocity in techno’s early history, and offer insights into Detroit music and performance today.

The principle concepts that shape the foundation of my analysis are identity diversity and sonic eclecticism. Electronic music scenes in Detroit are surprisingly diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, class, and educational background. This diversity has had profound historic and contemporary impacts on electronic music produced in Detroit and performed in Detroit. In this presentation, I will examine the constellation of diverse sonic influences in Detroit electronic music and the indelible aural and social foundations that 1970s Detroit laid for present day electronic music culture in the city.