Putting some air on their chests: Masculinity and movement in competitive air guitar

Sydney Hutchinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


While white men in the US and parts of Europe are often described as being ineffectual dancers who are not "in touch with their bodies," they do respond physically to music, if not primarily in ways generally described as dance. Among rock music fans, bodily response to music often takes the form of air guitar, a type of performance that resembles dance in its use of rhythm, steps, and even choreography. Since 1996, competitive air guitar has emerged as an international phenomenon, spreading from Oulu, Finland, to more than two dozen countries. Partly an ironic exaggeration of hypermasculine "cock rock" conventions and partly the heart-fell tribute of rock fans, successful air guitar performances balance silliness with sincerity. Although competition is still dominated by white males, air guitarists question typical rock constructions of masculinity and race through humor and irony. This paper draws on field research conducted at 2009 championships in Germany and Finland and numerous interviews to explore the relationships between masculinity, movement, and musical knowledge in air guitar performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-103
Number of pages25
JournalWorld of Music
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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