Insurgent workers’ minds and bodies turned up on dance-floors long ago, anticipating their liberation from the factory's mechanistic discipline. Clubs were sites that integrated political education and entertainment; social recovery and antagonistic social articulation. Then arrived the weekend, ripe with evening temptations, as both a working class victory and a bargain with capital for an ever more dutiful submission to the pains of the working week. Whether mere toxic retreats into a world of purchased pleasures serviced by instrumentalized hospitality workers; or as maddening aspirations toward collective self-abolition in the crushing beat of capitalist ruins, spaces of nightly leisure are energized by a social desire for what Kristin Ross calls communal luxury: a communistic drive for collective prosperity that capitalism recuperates and exploits. The Ultimate Leisure Workers' Club hopes to draw from these political potentials, linking up with groups and individuals involved in the struggle to open new terrains for social liberation and communal joy in the night and beyond. As you will see, there are two strands of the club at the moment: the Action Group and the Leisure Communism Group. The former focuses on actions that may take the form of benefit parties, raves and strategic discussions, while the latter is a theoretical branch focused on educational activities and the production of text based content. In November 2020 we are planning a convergence of club members and friends. Contacts: email@example.com Follow us: instagram.
ULWC Action Group is a place for Club participants and friends to hang out, share ideas about creative and political practices and build strategies, as an open-structured collective preparation process for the upcoming ULWC events in 2020.
Clubbing Body Politics & Queer Performativity
Online, 3 June, 2020 Our discussion series was kindly started up by Edvinas Grin (aka Querelle) about their personal experiences as a party organizer/performer in Lithuania and how they’ve dealt with the tension between queer invisibility and cultural commodification. Since 2016 Edvinas has been one of the initiators and co-curators of the counter-cultural queer collective WE ARE PROPAGANDA. The same year marked the beginning of his terrorist drag dj performances under the alter ego – drag persona Querelle. The broader spectrum of their practice consists of curatorial and artistic activities, all connected through an active interest in leftist and queer politics, which aim to provide artistic practices with a transformative potential, especially within institutionalised structures.
An account of our discussion mapped out through some key questions and examples that came up before, during and after the event:
What are the political potentials of establishing queer community through organising in night life spaces?Self-organised queer night events as entry points into leisure spaces - such as bars, clubs, and other institutions - that are otherwise unwelcoming for queer folks, can be perceived as a tactic to seize heterosexual space and temporarily transform it into a zone for community building and political education. In this case, Edvinas presented an event Weare18 at ex-Yucatan in Vilnius, Lithuania organised in 2016 as part of the Queer Festival Kreivės. The aforementioned tactic could also take the form of performative interventions, as the case of Queer Nation’s shopping mall events.
How to deal with problematics of queer commodification that runs deep with the spread of neoliberal cultural structures?While visibility is crucial for securing a safe queer public existence, not all queerings of heteronormative public structures yield transformative power and, if unexamined, might perpetuate fetishisation of marginalised societal groups. The culture industry also has a way of absorbing queer identity as a consumer good all the while violently erasing other aspects of queer life –– and the lives of other oppressed groups –– that do not fit into the brand identity of the business interest. Here, the ex-club Platforma comes in, as an example of cooptation of ‘nightlife revolution’ as a marketing scheme, and for their attempt to earn social capital from the new queer party on the block Šaltkalvis. Such a case brings us to questions about the relation between the responsibility and awareness of individual artists and collectives, and the problematic cultural-commercial structures they may participate in. Edvinas found himself in a similar situation while participating at the Alternative Education programme at Rupert, which was established as part of an EU sponsored incubator fund aimed to promote neo-liberal cultural policy models. While Rupert has shown itself as a supporter of critical thought, similar questions arise about the relation between an institution's cultural content and the particular capitalist form/structures they operate within. It invites as well, to rethink the sustainability of placing content that relates to the struggles of certain marginalised groups within contexts where these groups themselves do not have strong connection to, or representation. This leads us to ask, whether queer representation might merely serve as a means of overshadowing the problematic neo-liberal structures upon which many cultural institutions and entities in Lithuania rely? As a response, Edvinas began a new practice called Queer for Sale. The first manifestation of Queer for Sale was a series of posters advertising his drag persona Querelle as a rental service to: “gentrify the neighbourhood” and “spice up your hip party”. Adomas has also brought in a set of questions to be further explored about the problematics of cultural initiatives operating within neoliberal funding structures. Does private capital involvement (whether at inception, or in its funding structure) subsume an art space/institution's activities? Does it undermine it and in what ways, how do they differ from an institution adhering to state/municipality pressures? What could be the strategies of simmering (referring to Vaida's term) resistance from within? That last question being especially potent as so many people working in Lithuania within art institutional settings face it, whichever funding and operational mechanism they work with. Also, what is a non-tokenising institutional interaction with a marginalised community? Can it escape the currency of representation? If yes, what could be the tactics?
Clubs captivate and mesmerize, but do they actually open doors for the building of emancipatory social movements?When discussing (queer) spaces of nightly leisure and pleasure as emancipatory manifestations for social transformation, there is a need to address the difference between confrontational parties (sites of revolution) and safe-space parties (sites of restoration), as observed by Vuk of the labor union G1ps. At the time of the discussion, a certain part of Berlin’s club scene had gone blind towards the urgent issues of repressed communities while on its leisurely protest for ‘saving the rave culture’ - begging to rethink organisation of confrontational parties as well as the need of cooperation between minority communities. How can queer groups tied together by politics of nightly communal gatherings address broader problematics of societal life, i.e. publicly protest gender and sexuality-based injustices? We might look at the strategies undertaken by Polish platform Oramics that support women, non-binary and queer people in the electronic music scene. The commercial club itself may be an energy trap, but could all of the desires to leave the world of work and oppression, that take the form of leisurely energy, be channeled in different directions, towards Leisure Communism? How could it be made possible to create parallel structures which would draw from the nightlife experience but depart from its entrenched commercial logics? Acknowledging that possibilities of political organising that arises in nightlife might come through sustained alliances, a question by Agne from Social Centre Emma in Kaunas, echoes this in thinking, how to expand our circles while refusing to participate in the building of a commercial public sphere? In relation, calls against the commercialisation of Baltic Pride were well visible in 2019. Finally, we are glad to mention the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) that Milo shared with us, established as a "living history" archive of past and present queer zines, and to make a note about a historical queer-punk party called Klubstitute.
Alienation as Device
Our second event of the Action Group is coming up on 9 August, 7pm EEST (GMT+3), online - Mattin will present Alienation as Device. As new communal formations are violently threatened by the anti-social infrastructures of capitalism, the ULWC asks what strategies have/are/can be applied to sustain and support (anti-authoritarian) communist forms of life in the present? For the noise musician and theorist Mattin, emphasis is placed on how we may overcome the cognitive individualisation of experience. Here Mattin turns toward the concept and practice of social dissonance, which encourages active forms of collective alienation from the individualising alienations we face under the reality models of capitalism. As Mattin encourages in his soon to be published book Social Dissonance:
Alienation must be taken as an enabling condition: as a way to reveal the social dissonance that occurs between the image we have of ourselves (as free individuals endowed with rational agency) and our socio-physical determination/constitution by the capitalist totality, which includes value-relation, technology and subpersonal mechanisms. The essential barrier social dissonance confronts is the naturalisation of personal experience understood as the proprietary right of individuals. The disruption of these hegemonic reality models hence involves grasping the mediations that underpin such processes of naturalisation.To facilitate social dissonance, Mattin has developed a “social score" (see an intro at the end of the invitation), which may be performatively introduced as part of the talk. Finally, Mattin will present his critique of both the romantic communist tradition’s theory of dealienation, as found in the early works of Marx and groups like the Situationist International, and techno-positivist glorifications of alienation, as recently surfacing in Xenofeminism, but dating back to Futurist avant-garde traditions and various accelerationist currents. Mattin Mattin is an artist and writer from Bilbao - living in Berlin - working with noise and improvisation. His work seeks to address the social and economic structures of experimental sonic artistic production through live performance, recordings and writing. He has recently completed a PhD at the University of the Basque Country under the supervision of Ray Brassier and Josu Rekalde. Mattin took part in documenta14 in Athens and Kassel in 2018. Along with the theorist Anthony Iles he edited the book Noise & Capitalism(2009). With Miguel Prado, Mattin runs the podcast “Social Discipline”. Mattin is a member of the interdisciplinary network “Whatis to be Done under Real Subsumption?” Social Dissonance Score Listen carefully. The audience is your instrument, play it in order to practically understand how we are generally instrumentalized. Prepare the audience with concepts, questions, and movements as a way to explore the dissonance that exist between the individual narcissism that capitalism promotes and our social capacity, between how we conceive ourselves as free individuals with agency and the way that we are socially determined by capitalist relations, technology, and ideology. Reflect on the I/We relation while defining social dissonance. Help the collective subject to emerge.
We Dance Together / We Fight Together Танцуем вместе / Боремся вместе
4-12 pm, 22 August, Saturday Luna6 (Zanavykų g. 6, Vilnius, entry from Panevėžio st.) Ultimate Leisure Workers’ Club is part of a two-day fundraising event We Dance Together / We Fight Together in Kaunas and Vilnius (Lithuania) organised to support Belarusian activists and help them financially while they are fighting against an authoritarian state. Check the fundraiser leaflet, for more information on the groups receiving the support, an interview with them and how to donate online. The Saturday portion is hosted by Luna6 in Vilnius. ULWC will contribute through the release of our first publication, to be assembled collectively in a workshop, as well as a music programme set for the assembly and, later on, for some ravish dance vibes. The slogan “We Dance Together / We Fight Together” has circulated in various club scenes, as a means of expressing involvement in social movements against police and state brutality; such as Tbilisi’s rave-protest in 2018, and currently in demonstrations that are spreading throughout Poland against the wave of violence directed toward LGBTQ+ communities (check out a very informative discussion between philosopher Ewa Majewska and Polish creators in the queer culture scene). More on the pocketbook From 3 to 6 pm, we will have a new pocketbook Viskas bendra (All is Common) release, for which we invite you to a workshop where you will have the chance to make a customised pocketbook. The publication features a Lithuanian-translated essay “Baroque Sunbursts” by Mark Fisher about the potential of rave culture to establish communal relations amidst a world overcome by separations; as well as a Lithuanian introduction by club member Nindzė. The workshop is organised by two of our club members: Studio Cryo, who is also the graphic designer of the booklet and will lead the workshop, and Valentin of print.kamp who developed the printing and binding vision. And of course, from 4 to 10 pm a group of ULWC friends will serve some good sounds: Reyna Deyna & Lukas Danys Moteris Mávros Skýlos Raf Symons ZRNKT Julius * There will be plenty of drinks on site, and please bring cash for donations which will go directly and entirely to Belarusian street activists. You can check here [LT] [RU] [ENG] for more information on the groups receiving the support, an interview with them and how to donate online.
LEISURE COMMUNISM GROUP
The Leisure Communism Group as part of the Ultimate Leisure Workers’ Club is dedicated to the theoretical and political development of Leisure Communism. Our thinking starts out with the nightlife experience as we know (or knew) it: a greenhouse to enclose oneself for entirety of hours; a shield from the horrors of the passing of time and lifely worries; a chemically induced deliverance to an ephemeral paradise in hell. While it may be easy to discard the popular desires energized by such environments as mere escapist retreats from a real left unscathed, we propose for a political embrace of these zones by considering, what we believe to be, their ultimate fantasy: a world without work, founded on principles of free association and communal luxury – or what we have come to call Leisure Communism. While the overall constellation of interests is still in the process of forming, we are drawn to topics ranging from: emancipatory as well as toxic traits of spaces of escape; the class and gender politics of clubs; the political-economy of pleasure and the subversion of it; comparison of socialist and capitalist leisure economies; technological utopias of full leisure society and dystopias of machinic hyper-exploitation; social narratives about productive and nonproductive bodies; creativity in the classless society.
2 July, 7 pm EET Online, password: 9xT77D For our first Leisure Communism Group reading we propose Kristin Ross’ Communal Luxury: the political imaginary of the Paris Commune. Ross’ text seems like a nice entry point for developing the concept of Leisure Communism as it provides a different historical narrative for the idea of communism as a confederation of independent worker clubs organized beyond the categories of nation and state. The text is also intriguing for its detailed accounts of the actual social transformations that took place during the commune, such as the creation of: public schools, daycares, a woman's union, and the democratic reorganization of arts institutions. We invite you to read the introduction as well as the first and second chapter. The first chapter is about where the idea of the commune came from, the role of nightclubs as an organising form, and Eastern influences; the second chapter is all about the reorganisation of art institutions, new meaning of creativity in a classless society and education. Please focus on a few details you find particularly worthy for discussion. We are less interested in factual representations of the text or the authors historical accuracy and more interested how it can be applied for analysis of our own situations and the building of a Leisure Communist horizon. You can find the book here. Registration: firstname.lastname@example.org
Capitalist Leisure Industry and Rave Politics
28 July, 7 pm EET Kaunas Artists’ House (V. Putvinskio st. 56, Kaunas, Lithuania) For this session ULWC’s Leisure Communism Group is joining forces with the Insomnia Salon and discussing Mark Fisher’s Baroque Sunbursts (2016), which offers some juicy thoughts on rave as a kind of festive contagion that spreads new forms of communal bliss into miserably desocialised, commercially sterilised, urban space. Fisher addresses the historical war against the ravers in the UK and the onslaught of ‘mandatory individualism’ within the advanced capitalist culture industry. We see Fisher’s text as a constructive way of framing questions about local histories of rave and leisure economies in Lithuania. Moreover, with the current hype around rave and dance culture in the neo-liberal creative city, pressing questions must be raised about the insurgent capacities of these social forms in the present. Kaunas Artists' House reading room “Insomnia Salon” is a cycle of events that aims to expand the context of insomnia and to analyze various cultural phenomena related to sleep disorders. To what extent is insomnia associated today with creative processes, or it is a part of anxiety, insecurity, nightmares, exhaustion, or general boredom? All issues related to insomnia, sleep disorders and their symptoms are discussed in the salon, in a room where a group of people usually gathers to speak and discuss issues of politics, art and literature. Curator of the cycle - Agnė Bagdžiūnaitė.
A Day Without End
27 September, 7 pm EEST (GMT+3) Online On Sunday September 27th at 7pm we invite you for a reading and discussion on the class struggle over the ‘disposable hours’ of the night. We ask you to consider what role bars, clubs and other uncouth shelters of the night may serve in the struggle to transform the proprietary temporalities of capitalism into the communistic temporalities of ultimate leisure and communal life. Our discussion will be guided by a reading of the chapter “A Day Without End” from Laurent de Sutter’s book Narcocapitalism and moderated by Leisure Communism Group member Anthony Iles. Find the chapter here. Some additional context for the discussion follows: With the rooting of industrial capitalism in the eighteenth century, came a maddening reorganisation of the intensity and duration of work. The very idea of day and night would be radically transfigured by the voluptuous appetites of the metropolitan factory. An avalanche of violent and unregulated assaults met the newly emerging proletariat –– the work day was without end. As Marx contended:
Every boundary set by morality and nature, age and sex, day and night, was broken down. Even the ideas of day and night, which in the old statues were of peasant simplicity, became so confused that an English judge, as late as 1860, needed the penetration of an interpreter of the Talmud to explain ‘judicially’ what was day and what was night. Capital was celebrating its orgies. 390 The Working Day, Capital IYet, the night presented obstacles. Darkness resisted the disciplinary orders of the clock and the whip. Not to mention sleep or more broadly imagined those restorative hours where labor power was to be regenerated. With the emergence of the modern metropole came both rebellious compositions of nightly festivity and the emergent managerial science/technologies of population control. In a section of Laurent de Sutter’s book Narcocapitalism called “A Day Without End” a vibrant account is given of this protracted civil war over nightly activities, as they observe: “For too long, the night had meant a vague space, where festivity and a certain notion of rest were protected from the gaze of masters and proprietors; this obscurity now had to be conquered.”13 Guided by Sutter’s account, we invite you for discussion on the class struggle over ‘disposable time’ and ask you to consider what role bars, clubs and other uncouth shelters of the night may serve in the organization of the commune and the communist movement?