Grand Rapids at Night
School of Communications
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
A gay friend of mine living in Charleston, SC once told me he could do whatever he liked there so long as he was wearing a tuxedo. A similar thing could be said about the conservative midwestern city of Grand Rapids, MI; except it should be rephrased as you can do whatever you like as long as it's after dark. Yes, this city that has elected some of the most conservative tea party darlings to congress, where admonishments against working on Sundays still exist and deep pocketed individuals work behind the scenes to block gay marriage, is a fertile garden for the growth of diverse and creative subcultures that taunt the genteel and mainstream folks that managed to shape the persona of this city. In other words, Bland Rapids has a dark side. My talk will explore through the medium of photography the many homegrown and locally-supported subcultures from the roller derby to the burlesque to the semi-legal home concerts in Grand Rapids. Why do these exist and how do they meet a need left unfulfilled by the heavily funded activities and institutions of culture in town are some of the questions I will attempt to address.
3rd Global Conference Urban Popcultures
Prague, Czech Republic
Smith, Stafford, "Grand Rapids at Night" (2013). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. 1054.