Expectation and encounter in the Surry Hills nightscape (14730)
Encounter as a defining element of urban life is a notion particularly embedded in understandings of the urban night, with imaginings linked to certain groups of people and spaces at different points in time. This paper examines encounters in and with the nightscape of Surry Hills, Sydney. Using discourses generated in place, alongside other media, the research seeks to better understand the relationships between experiences and representations of this nightscape by asking, for instance, how might expectations of this place affect encounters there?
The study adopts a phenomenological approach in a well-known and continually gentrifying suburb that has experienced significant change in its nightscape in recent years. Using mobile methods, alongside discourse analysis, a multiplicity of experiences is revealed within this context. The most enduring discourses relating to this nightscape are established and the ways in which expectation plays out for different people in different spaces in this nightscape are explored.
This study relates these experiences to recent and ongoing transformations in Surry Hills' nightscape, questioning the processes, motivations and outcomes of such changes in relation to encounter in the context of a changing city. How are encounters in and with the Surry Hills nightscape shaped by the various discourses relating to this place? Do these discourses encourage positive shared cultures or reinforce problematic perceptions of difference in place? In attempting to answer these questions this paper also reflects on the methods employed to reveal these nightlife experiences as part of the researcher’s own awareness of being in the field.