Chronicling the Counterculture with Michelle Lhooq

Michelle Lhooq connects with Sarah Shewey, Happily CEO and Founder, to chat about the global collectiveness of a digital nightlife, and the future of virtual spaces.

Subcultures by definition, [are] underneath the view of the mainstream and I think I have always found a lot of value in these spaces that maybe people overlook or stigmatize.

Michelle Lhooq, Independent Journalist

Michelle Lhooq is all about raves, psychedelics and politics

She is a music and drugs journalist and the author of WEED: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned to Ask and writes a Substack newsletter called Rave New World. Her work is centered on the themes of counterculture and politics through the lens of underground parties, street protests, and drugs.

After studying Comparative Literature at Columbia University, Michelle covered electronic music and global nightlife as a music editor at VICE. Now residing in LA, her work has appeared in major publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, GQ, The Guardian, and Pitchfork.

Michelle has also hosted podcasts, documentaries, and panels for Boiler Room, VICE, Red Bull, Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival, and CTM Berlin. She also works as an consultant on emerging trends with clients including WGSN and The Future Laboratory.

For all the discussion listen to Michelle on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for a super quick summary.

Some bites from Michelle during their chat

On protests and raves during a pandemic

"Over the summer I did go to a lot of protests… I was really interested in how protests were maybe funneling some of the energy that would typically be vented through nightlife, but was kind of being challenged into the streets and what that kind of meant about GenZ and how that’s shaping, you know, a new political culture."

On the psychedelic and drug movement

"I feel sort of vindicated now because as the psychedelic and drug movement becomes more and more legitimized by research I’m finding that a lot of the observations and knowledge that are communal in the rave scene are now being proven by evidence, you know, through the research that this is something that has meaning beyond just pleasure.:"

On being ‘Zoom bombed’ during a virtual event

"These alt-right people just crashed through and it was so funny because I had specifically set up a whole barrier to entry with a door girl screening people and stuff… it feels extremely invasive, it really actually literally feels like someone came into your space."

On virtual events and their global connectivity

"What I really enjoy about virtual events… it’s the community that you create is global. And I am very interested in global scenes. I think cannabis and nightlife are both global stories, so to have different perspectives beyond California / LA weed culture join is always super refreshing."

On the emerging subcultures in Asia

"What’s cool about Asia right now is that there is an Asian ecosystem that’s forming that’s outside the American/European dialogue."

"I think that there is definitely a subculture in Asia as well, especially in places where there are really authoritarian regimes, I feel like there is more at stake [compared to the US]... but in a place like China, or Singapore, where, you know, being gay is actually illegal, I do feel like there is a hightened risk and that risk creates a completely different energy."

Are you fascinated by this topic?

Here are links to resources and things mentioned in this Happily Live: