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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Discussed most often as a musical genre and queer familial structure, house has long been a home for Blackness—and for femininity. This chapter theorizes a notion of Black queer femmeness along the sounds, affects, and vibrations of house. Through charting the use of Black female vocals across the genre’s origins in the early 1980s, dance pop in the early 1990s, and the mid-2010s’ house resurgence in both the mainstream and indie spheres, this chapter explores how house simultaneously amplifies the femininity of Black female house vocalists and detaches femininity from gendered bodies altogether. In the process, it posits that house works as an affective, or felt, political and cultural configuration, one that opens up the space for new relationalities within and between Black, queer, and/or femme communities. By charting how musical artists continue to return to house’s aesthetics and affective power, this chapter invites readers to listen and feel with the recent past(s) of house music for guidance and inspiration on navigating structural oppressions that continue to reverberate across time: governmental neglect of the life chances of Black and Brown people, police violence against Black and Brown people, and the looming presence of anti-Black racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Through such an engagement with the recent past, house accentuates the ongoing resonances between the 1980s and today.

Keywords: Blackness, gender/sexuality, technology, sound studies, queer theory, affect theory

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