Music, Sub-Culture, and Cultural Literacy @ Bethany College (A Manifesto)

January, 2002

For all the tremendous assets Bethany's size and seclusion provide, it has one crucial liability: cultural isolation. It's a class issue, and a marketing issue, and it's stifling.

For many, leaving home means leaving behind a community of like-minded music lovers. Goths are left to wear their fishnets on the inside, punks shed their Mohawks and chuck their safety pins, and metal and hardcore fans are told to turn down their devil music.

Those involved in music subcultures are justified in hesitating to wear their subcultures on their sleeves. But as a result, it can be difficult to tell who shares our tastes, values, and interests.

Building a community becomes difficult, and our investments in the musical subcultures that played such an important part in our lives before Bethany are left to rot beside our congealed, unused Manic Panic. But coercion and fear of ridicule account for only a small part of the problem.

Coming to Bethany too often means abandoning our cultural identities.

Yet, Bethany offers an outstanding opportunity for cultural exchange, even though its size and market puts a limit on how much exchange can occur. Bethany's core market has recently been limited to the tri-state area, and therefore to a pool of students with similar experiences, cultural assumptions, and aesthetic values.

This generalization is somewhat unfair, but there's something to it nevertheless. One student from the Midwest commented that no one here listens to the music she's used to. Given the circumstances, this is expected. Different regions produce very different music and subcultures (e.g. Chicago and industrial, Detroit and So. California's punk, Florida's tremendous metal scene, D.C.'s hardcore and go-go scene, New York's noise and art rock, Seattle's grunge, etc.).

Without a diversity of cultural commodities, cultural exchange seems rather pointless.

Our isolation from cultural centers only exacerbates our problem. Our distance from shows, record stores, and magazine racks can leave us information poor, and left to mourn for what was an integral part of our identities.

Vanguard Party attempts to address this problem. Concert reviews, upcoming shows, new music reviews, and ways to stay connected to the music world are just a few things Vanguard Party can offer. We'll also provide suggestions for building and fostering a music scene in Bethany.

But Vanguard Party can't succeed without you. Submit reviews, articles, suggestions, encouragement, criticisms, or music-related classified ads. If writing seems daunting, because of time or anxiety, don't let it: we've asked contributors for this first issue to end their articles with an estimate on the time it took to complete their articles; and there are no style requirements. No need to proofread. No need to be embarrassed about spelling.

And anonymous submissions are welcome.

See the submission guidelines for more information on submissions.

But remember, submitting writing isn't the only way to help: Don't just tolerate difference: celebrate it.



P.O. Box 266
Bethany, WV 26032