Party on wheels: mobile party spaces in the Norwegian high school graduation celebration
Eivind Grip Fjær, Willy Pedersen and Sveinung Sandberg have published an article in The British Journal of Sociology. They show how the russ - graduating Norwegian high-school students - transform old buses into rolling private nightclubs. Here they can party, partially free of the normal constraints of commercial nightlife and adult control
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Research on partying and nightlife often emphasizes commercial control while overlooking participants’ creativity and agency. Due to their age, appearance and transgressive partying, participants in the Norwegian high school graduation celebration have limited access to bars and pubs in the ordinary night-time economy. To create alternative party spaces under their own control they utilize the spatial opportunities offered by automobility. Groups of students get together many years in advance and buy old buses which they refurbish to become rolling nightclubs that enable them to ‘transcend space’ through partying while on the move. These mobile party spaces provide a material and symbolic centre of communion and a tight space for physical assembly that enhances the production of intense positive emotions. In a cat-and-mouse game with the police, the buses provide a sense of nomadic autonomy, and enable participants to drink heavily for days on end. The study examines how youth may creatively zone their own party spaces within the context of automobility and how these mobile spaces again shape the partying that goes on within them. While this party practice opens up for autonomy, creativity and social transgressions reminiscent of liminal phases or carnivals, at a deeper level participants clearly reproduce class-based differences and exaggerate conventional practices and symbols.