Place (or locality) “has emerged as a key concept in contemporary popular music studies, picking up on well-established trends in cultural geography and drawing on social anthropological methodology” (Shuker 2005:154). This chapter, however, does not deal with place or locality in the geographic sense of area, nation, or physical region within geographic boundaries, but with performance place (buildings, parks, and other venues) within urban settings. It specifi cally pertains to popular music entertainment or performance venues and the socio-cultural-political reasons for their being and the types of music taking place within them. The analysis of musical performance venues can be an important measure of identity and memory, and as such, informs the study of Vietnam’s popular music as politics. The following essay about a performance venue in Hanoi, for example, is like reading about a monument to the intellectual and romantic past that has been lost to and replaced by the popular culture of the present:
There’s an old building perched on a jetty on one side of the Thiền Quang Lake in Hà Nội’s Lenin Park. It is well known to Hanoians old and young alike, and in a way for similar reasons. An old faded sign on the side of the building is the only clue to its former status. It reads: “Ho Chi Minh Youth Union. Hà Nội Culture House for pupils and students.” Although it has always fulfi lled the function of entertainment center, few who used to go there twenty years [ago] would recognize the atmosphere today. It used to be one of the few night spots for Hà Nội’s youth. Evenings of poetry reading, discussion groups, and language classes were common. Parties were held there, and music was popular. It was the center of Hà Nội’s student social life. But a lot of time has passed by since the last discussion group was held.