A select body: the gay dance party subculture and the HIV/AIDS pandemic

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Cassell, Oct 1, 1995 - Health & Fitness - 262 pages
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Studies of the organization of gay social interaction have usually focused on the traditional context of bars and cruising areas. This book however describes the phenomenon of large-scale gay dance parties, in which up to 17,000 people dance through the night to deafening music and spectacular light displays, often under the influence of recreational psychoactive drugs. The authors chart the development of the gay dance party, the influence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on its growth, and the dance party as a response to the pressures and stigmas associated with both homosexuality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They focus on the contradictions between recreational drug use to distance the spectre of AIDS and to maintain a feeling of control, and the increased risk of HIV infection which may occur while under the influence of drugs. The role of dance as a response to the threats from disease and society, and the non-verbal symbols and communication and the magical thinking associated with the dance party and assessment of HIV transmission risk are described. Implications of supporting the life-affirming ethos of the dance parties while reducing the HIV infection risks associated with drug use are carefully examined from the perspective of possible health education interventions.

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The Evolution of the Gay Dance Party Culture
The Impact of Political Legitimation and
Drug Use and Sex at Dance Parties

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