Music in Surf Town Typology: Alternative Spaces of a Subculture

Authors: Anne Smith*, University Paul Valery Montpellier 3, France
Topics: Cultural Geography, Qualitative Research, United States
Keywords: Surf music, Surf town, Subcultures, Identity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Oakley, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


From the physical space in which music comes to life to a mythology built around ideological scenes, the place in which a type of music is developed or consumed plays a vital role on its evolution and its conservation. In the most representative places, there is an effort to cultivate and support musical activity in order to locally activate new forms of creative cultures and identities. This paper focuses on the conveyance of the surf lifestyle through surf musics anchored in geographical and social spaces prone to cultural creativity and allowing representational and inclusive esthetic dynamics to strive. We look at the way a Cocoa Beach based sunscreen company named Sun Bum dedicated their space to musical performance in order to promote a local surf lifestyle associated to the surf town. We move past the myth of a surf music culture marked by Californian exclusive esthetics to get closer to a legitimist music used as a platform that contributes to mark local identities and economies by promoting a singular “surfanization.” Sun Bum’s usage of office space as a stage relocalizes surf music: it is displaced, branded, and displayed as a Cocoa Beach surf lifestyle and identity. Local surfers see it as the validation of their singular identity while tourists associate these musical events to the surf town. Infrastructures developed by esthetic, social, and geographic communities have enabled the growth of a subculture inherited, commodified, and reorganized according to local codes in a process which clarifies the space-music-activity relationship.

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