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Voyage to the stars: Interaction between fans and musicians on cruise ship music festivals
journal contributionposted on 10.07.2018, 00:00 by David CashmanDavid Cashman
Music festivals are celebrations of music within and usually engaging with a specific geographic place; however some festivals –referred to as post-festivals–are less concerned with place than the construction of the festival experience. The increasingly numerous music festivals on cruise ships go one step further, removing place as a consideration and hosting a music festival within the fabricated, mobile, and liminal non-place of a cruise ship. They construct a festival experience that encourages interaction between fans and star musicians. Para-social relationships shift, and fans and star performers are temporarily united within a constructedly intimate society referred to as ‘ship fam’. This paper is the result of a series of interviews and open-ended surveys conducted in 2015 with 129 musicians, fans, and organisers of these festivals. It finds that the socially and physically encapsulated festival held within the non-place of the ship, is purposefully designed as an intense and liminal experience for musicians and fans. Relative strangers who spend only a few days onboard develop temporary and intimate friendships that are maintained after the festival on social media. Whereas open-air festivals are often held in fields with little encouraged (or permitted) interaction between fans and star performers, shipborne music festivals are luxurious and designed to generate an intense experience for participants.