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Clubbing 101 – Yale offers course in nightlife

The Boom Boom Room is a nightlife "Shangri-la" perched on the 18th floor of New York's Standard hotel, one online review gushed upon the club's star-studded opening in 2009. It has creamy leather couches, floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathroom and a "mischievous" triangular hot tub frothing in the middle of one room.

What better "fun pit" for a Yale University class field trip?

A new course on "nightlife culture" in the Ivy League school's American studies program includes DJ lectures, seminar discussions such as Looks, Door and Guest Lists: Getting Past the Velvet Rope and a trip from Connecticut to the Big Apple for a firsthand look. One of the guest lecturers will even throw his own bash at Yale as part of the curriculum.

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Most parents probably suspect their kids have figured out how to party without spending thousands of dollars in tuition to teach it to them. But Madison Moore, the doctoral candidate running the course, offered this defence to FoxNews: "It's not just about getting drunk. It's about the history of it, the Harlem cabarets, understanding race, gender, sex, prohibition and the law."

Weighty subject matter to be sure, and with society so driven by fame and celebrity, can't a case be made for exploring them against a contemporary backdrop? As interesting – and eyebrow-raising – classes go, Yale certainly isn't alone, pointed out Britain's Daily Mail newspaper. At Columbia College in Chicago, for instance, students can study Zombies in Popular Media. As Mr. Moore argues: "The iPad generation wants to know about pop culture." Their parents may reasonably counter that they are already study it enough – on Twitter.

At least Mr. Moore is cracking down on skipping class (though one suspects this won't be much of a problem). Students, he said, are allowed only one "excused absence" before requiring a note from the dean. A late night on the dance floor, presumably, won't wash.

Is 'nightclub culture' a worthy subject for study in university?

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Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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