Blurring the lines between inside and outside, civic and social, The City Is the Club Is the City is a spectrogram film that asks, “What if the club and the city were the same?” This piece was originally conceived of and created as a part of Tradewinds, an exhibition approaching DC’s go-go music club culture from dual angles of photography and soundscape. Rooted in collaborative research, the exhibition is the culmination of the Nexus Residency wherein photographer Larry Cook and ethnomusicologist Allie Martin worked in tandem to meld their practices, presenting a unified body of new works. Drawing on soundscape recordings created at the iconic corner of 7th Street and Florida Avenue NW, the film features a series of sonic vignettes that blur the lines between inside and outside, between varied publics. Utilizing traffic, club noise, go-go music, bird sounds, and other sonic elements, these vignettes bring background noise to the fore, creating the feeling of being suspended in a doorway where the club is the city, and the city is the club. As each vignette is built from multiple layers of sound, this accompanying essay peels back some of these layers, thinking through what sounds like the city and what sounds like the club, and the benefits to listening to both of these imagined spaces as if they were one. As Washington, DC, continues to gentrify, listening intersectionally in this way is imperative to understanding the intricacies of Black sound in the city.

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