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Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital Paperback – August 1, 2003

3.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A truly compelling narrative . . . a powerful piece of cultural reporting." -- Washington Post

"For anyone interested in the power of independent music, this is an overdue insight into a vibrant, homegrown scene." -- MOJO

About the Author

Mark Anderson is the co-author of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital (Akashic, 2003). Anderson is the outreach coordinator for Emmaus Services for the Aging, and he remains active with Positive Force DC, Helping Individual Prostitues Survive, and Women's Advocates to Terminate Sexism (WATTS). He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888451440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888451443
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,110,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Dance of Days" is a thrilling but ultimately incomplete and unfocused take on the most self-absorbed music scene in American rock history. For all their "activism", DC punks made some pretty great music, but you wouldn't know it from reading "Dance of Days". Maybe because it was penned by Positive Force founder Mark Andersen. And maybe because his impressions of "what happened" are consistently shot through a filter of self-important antiestablishment political posturing and bumpersticker sloganeering.
Y'see, Positive Force was the political soul to the Dischord/harDCore scene's aggressive mind, but when the two became hopelessly inseparable somewhere around the outbreak of the Gulf War (and, ironically, the arrival/creation of Fugazi), suddenly everything that came after became really, really IMPORTANT (and unfunny), and everything that came before looked homophobic, sexist, racist, and dead WRONG. And if you were around at the time of this catastrophic transformation in DC music history (I was), you'll admit that the music put out by the bands and people discussed in "Dance of Days" became wrecked with the sort of black-vs.-white puritanism that punk was supposed to be against in the first place. Every Fugazi song became an opportunity for social catharsis, detailing the long list of crimes perpetrated by the "oppressors", be they men, meat-eaters, or the cops. Fidelity Jones is described in "Dance of Days" as some sort of "voice of the voiceless" (to cop a lame bumpersticker pseudo-radical phrase), and Andersen's treatment of the "riot grrrl" phase suggests he slummed with their ideals for reasons more related to his own sexual guilt than for musical enjoyment.
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Format: Paperback
Anyone interested in underground music, activism or civil disobedience should buy this book in a flash. It describes how a small clique (in this case a handful of Washington, DC high school kids) united by energy, idealism, and a Do-It-Yourself ethic can spearhead national campaigns to change society.
Step by step it tells the story of Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Faith, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, and other DC hardcore bands and the social movements (Straight Edge, Positive Force, Revolution Summer, Riot Grrrl...) they inspired. It was exhilarating to see a local phenomenon erupt into international musical trends and activism I read about in such distant papers as the Bangkok Post. And reading the whole, hardscrabble saga is almost as exciting.
The one prior book on DC punk, Sun Dog Propaganda's great "Banned in DC", was more a photo album than a history. In contrast, "Dance of Days" is exhaustively researched, rapidly paced, and full of vivid characters. It's especially brilliant at suggesting the link between punk cultural values and progressive politics, something usually ignored by such books. As well as inspiring newcomers, it will stir up fond memories for scene insiders and even provide them new information.
Admirably, the book is more than a celebration. The authors deal also with the downside of the movement, condemning its violent, bigoted elements. While this face of punk has long been exploited by the mainstream media, "Dance of Days" had to address it to provide a balanced account. Acknowledging that the scene had serious problems just makes its final renaissance seem all the more miraculous.
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Comment 17 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on October 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Ok, strap on your rose colored, politically tinged, pseudo shining path blinders and delve into the slanted, branded, censored, ivory towered, ignored, unexplored, head-in-the-sand view of "punk" in the nation's capital. Two decades? They got that wrong- should have been "Two Pinhead Views of Punk..."
Anyway, these guys certainly weren't playing the clubs and hanging out with the bands to really know what went down, and what was said, as Ian MacKaye has expressed. As obvious groupies with a few favorite bands, they've left out such a sizable chunk of history- either because they didn't know, or (heh, heh) they couldn't care less, or both- that one cannot take too seriously this "history" of sorts. They've unearthed too few bones and voices to give credence to such a lofty book title. At best it's a molecular thin slice of some of what was going on, thus failing the admirable goals actually educating readers.
For raw objectivisim, this book gets a zero. There are some nice pics and for what they do write about- sans the strained politburo commentary, public policy side-bars, and soap operatic narrative- some of the content is interesting, but way too serious for it's britches. C'mon this is punk history, not Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind.
Now, how about a challenge? For Volume 2, maybe they could dig deep, pull up their pants, roll up their sleeves, get out their trowels and do the hard, sweaty work of an objective historical chronicle which will truly enlighten and educate readers.
Hint: Haggle for it at the yard sale.
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