Interrupting Flow: Researching Play, Performance and Immersion in Festival Scenes


  • Alice O'Grady University of Leeds


festival performance, interaction, relational performance, research methodology


This article explores some of the challenges of conducting research associated with play within the context of EDMCs, with particular reference to the complex social and spatial dynamics of popular music festivals. The essential premise is that clubbing can be conceived as a form of play and, as such, can offer access to the experience of flow. The article considers the epistemological complexities of the researcher's own immersion within the play event and adopts practice-based research methodologies developed in performance studies as a way of acknowledging and critiquing the significance of felt experiences and embodied knowledge. It considers the practical and ethical challenges of researching a phenomenon where intrusion is not only inconvenient and impractical but effectively collapses and destroys the very object of attention. The article introduces the concept of autoethnographic flow and argues that, whilst such immersion is often viewed with suspicion by other disciplines, it is particularly pertinent to EDMC scholarship as the research stance offered here intentionally embeds the researcher within the research context and uses this positioning as a key element of research design.



Author Biography

Alice O'Grady, University of Leeds

Alice O’Grady is Associate Professor in Applied Performance at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds, UK. Her research deals with interactive performance and play theory, particularly within underground club culture and contemporary music festivals. Much of her work is site-sensitive and examines the relationship between space, context and identity.