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A Night at the Avalon

Hill, Sarah ORCID: 2012. A Night at the Avalon. Presented at: Imagining Communities Musically: Putting Popular Music in its Place: IASPM-UK/Ireland Conference, Salford, UK, 5-7 September 2012.

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Of the many storied musical spaces in San Francisco, the Avalon Ballroom remains perhaps the most mythical. Run from 1966-68 by Chet Helms and the Family Dog, the Avalon embodied the hippie ethos of the Haight-Ashbury community. As an aesthetic experience, a night at the Avalon would begin with the first glimpse of the poster advertising that night’s entertainment; the light show would magnify the audience’s communion with the musicians; and the Haight community would feed on the residual good vibes until the following weekend. In this paper I will draw on documentary evidence and personal interviews with agents in the mid-1960s psychedelic community to recreate a ‘typical’ night at the Avalon – from the commissioning of the art work, through the sound check and performance, and back to the Haight – and suggest a connection between ideology and locality, imagination and expression, in the ‘long 60s’ of San Francisco.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023 02:32

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