Sameer Rao Sameer Rao is a Philadelphia-based freelance journalist whose mainly focuses on music, art, theatre, comedy, education, activism, arts communities, gender, race, society, and where all of those things intersect. His writing so far has appeared in City Paper, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, APIARY Online, WXPN's The Key, and the Good Men Project.
On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife
(University of Chicago Press, 2011)
In their quest to understand human behavior, sociologists can commit a number of damning actions. For David Grazian, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania whose inquiry into American nightlife is part of a growing academic fascination with the more “fun” aspects of social life, the biggest risk is one of obviousness.
One of On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife’s core conclusions, that people involved at every level of the nightlife economy (PR people, bouncers, bartenders, dancers, the young and affluent) are involved in multifaceted deception, might not shock anybody who spends any time going out.
And if it does shock you, so will this: That cute bartender who keeps winking at you? She’s not going to call, no matter the tip you leave.
Suspend judgment, though, and On the Make’s gaze into Center City’s after-hours shenanigans actually paints a pretty intricate picture of our city’s club-going world.
Generally ignoring dive bars and neighborhood spots, he instead focuses on the clubs and swank-factories of Old City and Rittenhouse. Grazian describes the nuances of seduction, impression management and good-times marketing that characterize the nightlife world. He also maps how important the growth of the education sector has been to the city’s world of after-hours fun.
Even if the places described in On the Make aren’t your scene, it could be a useful playbook for the young and perceptive on how to navigate nightlife. Or, it’s a strong argument for staying at your local watering hole.
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