OPINION LEADERS – PULLING THE PARTY STRINGS

PhDJ 1 (hi res) I have set the intention to really further my understanding of the people that influence youth culture in Australia, or ‘Opinion Leaders’. More importantly, I want to get their perspective and ideas around alcohol consumption and how they see it playing a role in the youth culture that they essentially puppeteer. My first interviewee is Martin Novosel. Many of you probably wouldn’t have heard of Marty, but you may have seen him perform at a festival under the Purple Sneaker DJs banner. Martin, however, also owns and runs Boundary Sounds a prominant, indie record and events label in Sydney (the label runs the Purple Sneaker DJ night in Sydney and also represents bands like Philadelphia Grand Jury). Having been to his highly successful weekly indie/dance night in Sydney and seen first hand how prevelant the drinking culture is there, his views on youth culture (and more specifically, how they harness it) are of great interest to me. I have known Marty for several years now (from when I was doing promotion for a nightclub). He has always been a person I have learned a lot from and watching how he works the brands under the label to tap into youth culture is fascinating. From our most recent conversation I got two things insights into how youth culutre works that really interested me. One is the way his events are promoted and secondly, how alcohol forms a sort of currency in that promotion. It’s interesting to hear the way Marty describes young people that attend his events, “There are planets and satelites,” he says. “The planets,” he describes, “are the young people that have that infectiously attractive quality of ‘not giving a shit’. They are the ones that bring the people to the events. They have this untouchable ‘knowledge of self’ that becomes this highly attractive quality of which the satelites want a piece of.” The realisation that I had around this is that to really influence change in youth drinking culture, these are the types of people we need to engage – ‘the planets’. The second thing that really stood out to me in our conversation is the way alcohol is used as a currency at the events. If planets are the ‘cool kids’ and the sateliets are their followers, alcohol in the night time economy is the gravity that pulls them into orbit. It makes me think of the concept of ‘shouting’ someone and how this is essentially a transference of value from one person to the next. Alcohol has become so entwined in that transfer. So my two questions from the interview are; 1) what do we need to offer the planets to promote drinking responsibly? 2) how can we create this transference of value without alcohol used as the currency in our night time economy?

I just felt an involuntary cringe when I read ‘promote drinking responsibly’. Last year, a 19yr old explained to me that young people do not, quite deliberately, drink the way they think older people do and are not interested in doing so — the point of drinking they way they do is to distinguish themselves from older people, not to be like them. Young people associate ‘responsible drinking’and ‘drinking in moderation’ with what old people (ie 40+) do, which is seen as boring and pretentious. But I do like the concept of the planets and the orbits!

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