Black history did not end in 1940.

If we only talk about Harlem in the past (the 1920s and 30s), we ignore the fact that ‘Harlem’ is a living community today, and through time, with the resiliency of a people with a history much longer and more interesting than jazz. If white people tell a history of Harlem that ends in 1940, they are stealing the _ongoing_ story of black strength and creativity.

introvert/extrovert

The ‘Myer Briggs Type Indicator’ was invented by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers in the very early 1920s. They weren’t psychologists or trained researchers, and they invented the types without doing extensive testing or research.

‘Types’, in the Myer Briggs world, are inflexible, and predictive. Which is why people like this test for deciding what sort of jobs kids should do when they grow up. In this schema, we are a combination of traits, and we self-identify our traits. These traits are:
1. extraversion/introversion
2. sensing/intuition
3. thinking/feeling
4. judging/perceiving

The theory has since been disproved, critiqued, and generally shat on by anyone who’s done any extensive work with real human beings (the wikipedia article has some nice links). Or stopped and thought about it properly. But people luuuurve to self-identify their personalities.

The extrovert/introvert dichotomy that’s been pounding through interweb listicles and reasons-why-you-love/hate-iso articles is one of the Myer-Briggs types. It’s a totally made up rubbish idea that you are either an extrovert or an introvert. Humans are far, far more complex. But people really really like this idea of being one or the other.

If I was going to a 1920s costume party, I’d go as both Myer and Briggs. Because the 20s were wacked as fuck.

Will we be running dance events in May 2021

We’re still in iso here in Sydney. And while Morrison is talking about and early opening, even if the states do go ahead, we will see a second wave before the end of 2020.

Even if we do get out of iso, we will be adhering to safety measures (washing our hands, covering our mouths, not touching people, keeping 1.5m apart) for a much longer time.
Dancing is a high risk activity: all that touching, but also the respiratory droplets blown everywhere by all the panting and puffing and open mouths. Not to mention musicians and their germ-blower instruments.
We won’t be lindy hopping (or solo jazzing) until we get a vaccine, and we’ve seen that vaccine work reliably.

Beyond that, we don’t have the infrastructure to support weekend events. Private venues (eg dance halls, etc) are just devastated by the iso restrictions. Public venues (town halls etc) will either be closed and repurposed, or under extremely strict rules (eg no more than 10 people at a time, hardcore hygiene and cleaning, etc). The people who run events will still be recovering financially (eg we still have outstanding debts from Jazz Bang), and will need to develop new seed money sums, or new sponsorship options.

Music and the arts generally are fucked in NSW and Australia. No sound engineers, lighting specialists, etc etc – all those people who support the artists on stage. They’ll have all started looking for other work and have other commitments to support families and pay rent.

Insurance will become a serious issue. I’ve already had emails from my insurer about new conditions. I personally don’t want to risk legal action for endangering people. And if we start doing things like taking temperatures at dances, we take responsibility for health, and open ourselves to legal action. And I know I don’t want to have to face the Worksafe issues of putting volunteers and staff in unsafe conditions.
Beyond that, the market for big dance events will change. The bulk of the market for these events are those ‘intermediate’ dancers – people who aren’t new, and aren’t super long time dancers (though JB is an exception on this – this older/newer group is our market). We’ll need to find new ways of targeting those markets.

But those avenues of advertising and market development will have changed. Dance schools will have gone out of business, and/or teachers will have had to redirect their energies to things like working from home, new jobs, etc. If we do start up classes again, it’ll take a few years to get up to speed and redevelop the labour force (unpaid volunteers, primarily) to run regular and big events. It’ll be like starting new scenes.

Five years is a long time in dance world. That’s a generation of dancers. I’ll be 51. All our dancers generally will be older – the difference between 22 and 27 is huge when it comes to family and day job commitments.
And of course, my greatest fear is our OGs. Older black Americans. Black americans are four times more likely to die of COVID19 than white americans. And older people are even more vulnerable. I personally cannot countenance the thought of dancers starting dancing again and deliberately endangering the communities that gave us these dances and music.

I’m wondering whether we’ll see people super-keen to do dancing after covid19, or if we’ll see people too afraid to touch other people after covid19. To be honest, I suspect (considering things my epi friends say), we won’t have ‘after covid19′ for many many years. It will be how we live. A seasonal disease that we manage with degrees of isolation and quarantine until a vaccine is found, and then administered to the entire population.
We may be able to start doing smaller events in privates spaces (eg our homes) in 2021, but only mid-way through.

But it’s not all tears.
I’ve been thinking about alternative models for delivering jazz dance and jazz music. Unlike the 1980s, before we saw this new generation of dancers, we have the internet. It’s the perfect tool for delivering audio and audio-visual content. And if we get to the point of small groups gathering in private spaces, we’ll have bands again. And if we can get a few dancers in there, then the bands will be able to learn and relearn playing for and with dancers. So I think the pre-pandemic move towards smaller events will stand us in good stead in the coming years. We’ll get really really good at doing small, quality events that value safety like Jazz BANG.

The saddest thing of all, is that jazz is social. It invites us into each other’s company. To hold each other close. And breathe wet air in each others’ faces :D

Here are some rough thoughts about

“when we will be able to hold weekly swing dances again”

, responding to Dabney Hopkins’ question on facebook. There are clear cultural differences between countries and their responses to covid19, and I think this will shape the modern lindy hop world. If there is one.

Some places in Seoul have started already, because their government and population jumped onto the virus early, with thorough testing, transparent and accurate reporting, and exceptional healthcare.

For the rest of us? Not until the end of 2021, in Australia. And that’s ambitious. More like 2022. We got onto iso quite quickly, and our numbers are under control.
This delay will trash dance businesses, and see dancers move to other hobbies and work. So we’ll need to rebuild local scenes. Big events will be very slow to come back. We’ll lose our older dancers (and all their organisational and dancing skills) to illness or other activities. We will lose most of the privately owned dance venues, and council/govt and church owned venues will be in high demand.
Dancers will have to learn new cultures of hygiene, and they’ll make disastrous mistakes at first.
Travel will be strictly curtailed, interstate/inter-regional in places like Australia and Europe, and internationally.

I’m not going dancing until there’s a vaccine, because it’s a high risk activity. The longer we wait, the older i get, and the more at risk i’ll become.

I suspect various US states will allow it earlier, and lots of people will get sick and/or die, and take it home to their families, friends, and colleagues. The virus is out of control in the US, with citizens not practicing iso, tiers of government in conflict, and healthcare overwhelmed. The virus is hitting the poor and marginalised hardest. I suspect the US dance scene will lose the black dancers it does have to illness, grief and work, as they have to move to caring for families and community.
I worry about the OG musicians and dancers in the US the most. People who want ‘underground parties’, and don’t iso put these most vulnerable people at risk.
Stay home, for Sugar and Chazz and their family and friends.

I just had a walk and think. Things that are important now:

  • Stay home, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, don’t go dancing
    • This will save lives.
  • document and archive. If you have footage and photos of your local scene, social dancing, and bands, make two copies and keep it safe. If you have schedules, training manuals, transcriptions of routines, make two copies and keep them safe.
    • this will preserve the stuff we’ve always had trouble finding: everyday dance life.
  • Strengthen your networks. Email or phone your local elders – musicians, dancers, promoters, writers. People who have knowledge, and are most at risk.
  • Start making videos that are entertaining, not just practice videos or jams. Make something people want to _watch_ and rewatch. This will keep you relevant to an increasingly nondancing audience.
  • Look after your kids.
    • We know they’re less likely to get covid. They’re our future.
  • Look after the black kids and first nations kids who are most at risk.
    • Care more about black people than you do about black dance.

Cook: crap

So, after Kate asked for an actual source for James Cook raping people, I’ve been doing some ‘light’ research trying to find the original twitter thread where I read about this.
This thread was between a few first nations women (Australia, Hawai’i, NZ, etc), and they dropped some sweet links.

Anyway, I can’t find the original twitter thread (😭) but I have read a lot of interesting things.

Key was that Cook and his crews knowingly carried disease (TB, syphilis, gonorrhea, and lots of other lovely things) to the people of the pacific region (NZ, Hawai’i, Australia, Tahiti, etc). They knew they were sick, but they still had sex with local people. They also stole stuff, beat people, raped people, and were generally shitty guests. Eventually the people of Hawai’i had jack of Cook and his bullshit, and killed his arse.
There are lots of primary sources (journals, stories, drawings, paintings, etc) about this. It wasn’t a secret.

– Cook was a bad person. He did three major voyages, getting progressively more violent and aggressive, and eventually getting killed on the final voyage (12 Feb 1779, Hawai’i).

– His violence was expressed through increasingly violent (and quite horrific) ‘punishments’ for indigenous people who broke his ‘rules’, and for his own crew.

– His crews were allowed to interact with various villages as they travelled, including sexual relationships.

– Cook declared Australia ‘terra nullis’. He knew that people were living here, but because he didn’t count anyone who wasn’t European as a human, he decided that no ‘people’ lived in Australia.

– The people of Hawai’i (and other places) got increasingly shitty with Cook and his crew. They’d pass through their harbours to restock water and food, and to do some R&R. At first the Hawai’ian people were ‘yeah, ok’ and because women were considered sexually and socially autonomous people, they would have a root with the visitors. For fun. And also for economic gain. Sex work (giving sex in return for things like european goods) was culturally ok at the time. But after a while Cook and his mates became less fun. And they were riddled with disease.

– Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa (a scholar from Hawai’i) explains that Cook and his men brought TB and STIs like syphilis to the people of Hawai’i. Who were NOT impressed by these dirty europeans. Cook also had sex with local women.

– Eventually Cook got got by the Hawai’ian people for trying to kidnap the aliʻi nui (king/god/leader) Kalaniʻōpuʻu. He and his marines laid hands on Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and tried to drag him away, in punishment for the theft of a jolly boat.
The especially bad bit of this was that Cook disrespected the aliʻi nui body and spiritual/god status of Kalaniʻōpuʻu by laying hands on him.

In sum, Cook did not consider people of colour ‘human’, and if you don’t consider someone human, you don’t believe they have bodily autonomy, and therefore cannot give consent to sex. By this logic, if they can’t give or not give consent, they can’t be raped.
This sort of logic isn’t new, and I’m not the first person to draw these connections; there’s other (better) research about this stuff. But we can see these sorts of patterns of behaviour today in sexual offenders: men who regard women, girls, and children as less human and less important than their own desires, and do not respect their bodily autonomy*.

But I haven’t yet found specific primary sources detailing Cook’s sexual assaults. Mostly because I couldn’t read any more about him without feeling sick.

Here are some sources:

– Catherine ‘Imaikalani Ulep, ‘Women’s Exchanges: The Sex Trade and Cloth In Early Nineteenth-Century Hawai‘i’
(https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/62478/2017-05-ma-ulep.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3YmGPe8ZC7YZ7Rm6h6oFw5BLO4WgmhHnVWjfD_wiRck7-3x02FaNo2pZE)

– Kerri A. Inglis, ‘Kōkua, Mana, and Mālama ‘Āina: Exploring concepts of health, disease, and medicine in 19th Century Hawai’i’
(http://ulukau.org/elib/cgi-bin/library?e=d-0hulili05-000Sec–11en-50-20-header-book–1-010escapewin&a=d&d=D0.18&toc=0)

– Accounts of disease in Cook’s crew, and on the population of Hawai’i before and after his visits are plentiful. You can find zillions with a google search, from his crew’s journals to oral histories from Hawai’i people and so on. It’s not a contested idea; it’s a fact.

*’bodily autonomy’ is the right to make choices about your own body, what it does, how it looks, how it works, and who gets to touch it. It’s a useful phrase and concept for talking about sex, reproduction, imprisonment, and health. It’s also a powerful phrase for talking about children and their rights.

Condoman

I was living in Brisbane, and about 15 when I first saw Condoman. This was mid-AIDS crisis, and the Brisbane AIDS team was based in the Valley, where my mum worked, and where we went out to see bands and get hassled by junkies.

Condoman was invented by Aunty Gracelyn Smallwood and a bunch of other good peeps from Townsville, who wanted a figure who would empower black kids and get them to use condoms. This poster was designed by and printed by Michael Callaghan and Redback Graphix in 1987.

Redback Graphix (1979-1994) was an independent printing cooperative based in Wollongong, and focussing on politically minded, community-centred posters. Their posters are most excellent.

I for one would welcome an anti-Rona poster that was a bit more empowering, and a bit more block colour than the pissweak govt publications we’re seeing.

But Redback were funded by state and federal arts grants, and the coalition governments (both state and federal) today have decided the arts can go and get fucked. So there’s no covid bailout for them (us) and funding for the arts generally has been gutted.

I’m nuts for posters, playbills, and printed ephemera. Particularly hand-printed, or short-run printed material. There’s a great book about Redback Graphix, which I strongly recommend.

What’s with that Captain Cook cunt?

So, today is the 250th anniversary of Cook’s claiming he’d discovered Australia. He and his crew were driving the Endeavour round the world stealing stuff and killing and raping people for the British empire. They bumped into Australia, home to the oldest living culture in the world (40 000 years), 700 distinct languages, extensive complex land management traditions… basically it was bigger, fancier, and culturally rich.

Former PM Tony Abbott and his mates had planned an epic big series of expensive public thingies to commemorate Cook ‘circumnavigating’ the continent. The best bit of COVID19 is that it fucked up those plans. The best bit of history is that Abbott will be remembered for that particular nugget.

Why do we think Captain Cook was shit?
– He killed and raped a bunch of people;
– He claimed Australia was ‘terra nullis’ – there were no people living here or using the country;
– He defined ‘people’ as white people, and ‘using’ as european style intensive agriculture;
– He kicked off 250 years of invasion and attempted genocide.

He was fucken wrong.

What happened to Cook?
– He killed and raped some people in Hawai’i, tried to kidnap their leader, Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and got FUCKEN KILLED.

James Cook was a bad person, and he got pwnd.

THE END.

Buy this shirt and be useful.

The above image was a bit of paper circulated at UQ when I was there in the early 90s. It was a photocopied thingy pinned up on someone’s door, so I took a photocopy of it.
I have no idea who made it, or where it came from

Films and tv programs where people go to parties or play sport just seem implausible now.

Hoarding during a pandemic

Normal shopping isn’t hoarding.
Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive behaviour and a response to anxiety. The best way to decide whether what you’re doing is hoarding or just routine, is to sit and imagine not buying those 10 loaves of bread you have in your trolley. If it causes you real distress (ie panic attack, crying, etc) it’s hoarding.

Thing is, in these times we’re all dealing with real anxiety, and most people don’t know how to manage it. The idea of buying and having lots of things is soothing for people trained to find pleasure in shopping. So it’s only to be expected. I imagine a lot people buying ‘extra’ plan to share it with family or legit keep it for an unpredictable emergency. They feel safer with a stockpile.

A lot of white m/c australians have never had to deal with real shortages, so they’re stocking up on the wrong things. Here in Ashfield where we’re from Nepal, China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Poland, etc, a lot of people know how to deal with scarcity, so they’re always stocked up, and with the right things. Rice, preserved food, spices to give flavour to plain food. And they don’t waste food.

Hoarding is not good, but i see it as a bellweather for community feeling.
Here our supermarkets (preserve of m/c people) are a mess, but our Asian grocers are not.

So, because you can’t do anything about other people, check yourself. Be mindful of your purchasing. One extra loaf is bread is fine (esp if you freeze any extra). But be aware: if you get to three or four, check your general anxiety and wellbeing. Buying excessive amounts will tell you how your anxiety levels are.
But don’t judge yourself harshly for being a sensible housekeeper.