The Vibe of the Exiles: Aliens, Afropsychedelia and Psyculture


  • Graham St John Griffith University, Australia



alienation, psyculture, Afrofuturism, posthumanism, psytrance, exiles, aliens, vibe


This article offers detailed comment on the vibe of the exiles, a socio-sonic aesthetic infused with the sensibility of the exile, of compatriotism in expatriation, a characteristic of psychedelic electronica from Goatrance to psytrance and beyond (i.e. psyculture). The commentary focuses on an emancipatory artifice which sees participants in the psyculture continuum adopt the figure of the alien in transpersonal and utopian projects. Decaled with the cosmic liminality of space exploration, alien encounter and abduction repurposed from science fiction, psychedelic event-culture cultivates posthumanist pretentions resembling Afrofuturist sensibilities that are identified with, appropriated and reassembled by participants. Offering a range of examples, among them Israeli psychedelic artists bent on entering another world, the article explores the interface of psyculture and Afrofuturism. Sharing a theme central to cosmic jazz, funk, rock, dub, electro, hip-hop and techno, from the earliest productions, Israeli and otherwise, Goatrance, assumed an off-world trajectory, and a concomitant celebration of difference, a potent otherness signified by the alien encounter, where contact and abduction become driving narratives for increasingly popular social aesthetics. Exploring the different orbits from which mystics and ecstatics transmit visions of another world, the article, then, focuses on the socio-sonic aesthetics of the dance floor, that orgiastic domain in which a multitude of “freedoms” are performed, mutant utopias propagated, and alien identities danced into being.

Author Biography

Graham St John, Griffith University, Australia

An anthropologist of electronic dance music cultures, festivals, and movements, Graham's recent book is Global Tribe: Spirituality, Technology and Psytrance (Equinox 2012). His previous books are Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures (Equinox 2009), and the edited collections The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance (Routledge 2010), Victor Turner and Contemporary Cultural Performance (Berghahn 2008), Rave Culture and Religion (Routledge, 2004), and FreeNRG: Notes From the Edge of the Dance Floor (Commonground, 2001). He has held research posts in four countries, is currently an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith Centre for Cultural Research and is founding Executive Editor at Dancecult.