todayÂ’s been kind of odd already

itÂ’s only quarter to 11, but IÂ’ve been awake since 8:30

Which might not seem very early, but for a girl whose body favours 11 hours sleep at a time, it’s a bit odd. Especially since I went to bed at about 12:30 last night. So only 8 hours. I was lying there this morning, thinking ‘why am I awake? What’s woken me up?’, enjoying the feel of clean sheets and just the right amount of blankets, being quietly confused. But The Squeeze hadn’t gotten up yet, so that’s why I hadn’t already gone through my woken-up-at-8-back-to-sleep-til-8:30-woken-up-for-goodbye-kiss-back-to-sleep-til-10 routine. Just threw me right off.

And now IÂ’m sitting here, up for ages (relatively speaking), wearing my warmer purple sensual-delight cardigan (the chick-magnet one) and long trousers, with my fingers and toes getting chillier by the minute. Seems autumn has come to Melbourne. itÂ’s overcast and the sky is really low. Rain seems imminent, which is shitty as I have laundry to do. Stinky dance clothes. Urk. I even had porridge for breakfast, in honour of autumn I guess
well, no actually in honour of the lack of bread in our house.

IÂ’m going out for lunch soon, so I should be working. But IÂ’m not. The chapter is getting bigger and bigger – 14000 words so far, when I should be keeping it to 10 000. seems now that IÂ’ve started writing about dancing, I just canÂ’t stop. I have so many things to say. So many interesting observations to make. The Supes thinks itÂ’s all very clever and all, but is concerned that because I know so much about my topic I might be losing sight of the bigger issues in all that detail.

ItÂ’s difficult to know so much.

So IÂ’m trying to think of some bigger issues. Sure, IÂ’ve got gender and class and stuff under happening. But she wants me to think bigger.

Bigger than that?


Really, I have to be able to say what exactly my thesis tells us about media in swing communities. right now I can say a Whole Fucking Lot. In fact, 14 000 words worth. But IÂ’m sure she means that I should be plugging into some critical theory, rather than some spurious anecdotal theory. Ah, pah. So IÂ’m trying. I really am.

So far I think that IÂ’m trying to say that swingers – fans, really – use media in particularly interactive ways. They donÂ’t just consume it, they use/make/play with it. Which is fairly aw-duh in the fan-studies world. But I think itÂ’s important that swingers are using a whole range of communications media in very interactive ways. I think itÂ’s important that swingers – who are all about the body and face to face communication – are also big users of online communications media. Could just be a side-effect of their demographic, though – lots of young (18 – 25 year old
aw fukk, now I feel old
), middle class kiddies with their first jobs. But I also have this theory that swing wouldnÂ’t be the way it is without the internet – the online communications media is central to the community, built into it from day 1. There are no paper media in swing. Even radio is relatively low-relevance (which is odd in such a music-centred culture).

And I think they do all sorts of interesting things with media that other fan communities donÂ’t. So IÂ’ve written them all down. And most of them have to do with the way they use online media in their face to fact interactions. And the way their community(s) are both localised in a big way – all about the body and actually touching other people – yet also seriously globalised – all about talking with swingers in other countries. IÂ’m interested in the ways they share ideas, about the flow of information and ideas and culture in swing. I think swingers do it in unique ways.

But thatÂ’s kind of the supervisorÂ’s point. Sure they do lots of things in unique ways, but what can this study of their uniqueness tell us about media use in fan communities generally? Hmph. I dunno.

I suspect it has something to do with the ways swingers – as fans and dancers – tailor existing media forms to meet their ideological discursive needs. They take something like a discussion board and use it in very swing-specific ways. And further, that these specific uses are localised, not only in terms of geography (ie Sydney swingers use swing talk in different ways to Melbourne swingers) but also in terms of localised communities of interest – SwingDJs uses the discussion board format in different ways to Melbourne swingers use swing talk.

But all thatÂ’s hardly new. ThatÂ’s the sort of research thatÂ’s been going on for ages in other areas. Like weÂ’ve never talked about uses of technology before. I like it as a balance to the whole technological determinism thing, but even thatÂ’s old news – youÂ’d have to be pretty brave to argue that technology is changing us in any media studies forum today. So I kind of think that swingersÂ’ use of media is a combination of uses-of-media, and media-affecting-people. Rather, I think itÂ’s that people have integrated media – online media – into their lives so comprehensively that itÂ’s an integral part of most things they do. Swingers are wired – they use online communications every day, in many different ways. It affects where and when and how they dance. ItÂ’s not a technological determinism thing
I think it might be more a cyborg thing.

Well, thatÂ’s the word that kept coming to me yesterday when the Supes and I were discussing it. I think itÂ’s important to remember that online, electronic communications media are about people talking to each other – communicating. And that people will make use of the things they have available – media poaching? I like Henry JenkinsÂ’ thought, here. I like the idea of poaching – taking what you want from ‘officialÂ’ sources, and doing what you like with it.

And swingers are all about poaching.

I also argue that swingers are all about reproduction, representation, reperformance. We do the same things over and over again, but we vary it each time. This is central to swingers, where lindy hop – the dances we do – are revived dances. we have reperformance built into our culture from the start. And we do a lot of re-performance things. We listen to the same songs over and over, we do the same dance steps. We even address this issue openly – we talk about individual styling, and making these re-performances unique. We talk about reperformance as creative endeavour. And thatÂ’s where (IÂ’m arguing) we get into trouble with copyright legislation – weÂ’re all about reperformance, but thatÂ’s not terribly cool when it comes to re-producing music media.
So all this reperformance is about poaching – tactical uses of official discourses and texts (go de certeau, go). We take stuff we find and we make it our own. Through reproduction, reperformance – doing stuff over and over again. And we get a whole lot of pleasure out of it. hell, we totally love watching people perform that same old routine from Hellzapoppin’, over and over again. And the reperformance is central to the making of community in swing – you signify your group membership by being able to take part in the rituals of reperformance – dancing the strolls weÂ’ve danced a million times before, knowing the songs weÂ’ve heard a million times before. And making them our own – styling it individually, creatively. And thereÂ’s a great deal of communal pleasure in this reproduction. We really enjoy reperformance.

And the media is central to this – it allows us to share these reperformances, to exchange ideas and dance steps and music and
well, heck, swingers are all about exchanges.

Maybe thatÂ’s my thing: swingers value exchange really highly. But that sort of comes back to my thing about face to face being important in swing – we like to get together to dance. And the media facilitates that.

See what I mean? IÂ’ve got lots to say. But IÂ’m struggling to find a bigger picture
oh well, back to it, I guess.