No news

[rage edit]HEY, if you’d like to give me a serve about being some sort of elitist, how’s about you a) read some of this blog, b) read my comment below. Because I am onto your shit, and I will NOT tolerate it. While I’m at it I DO HAVE A CLUE ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ETHNICITY, CLASS AND CULTURAL CAPITAL IN LINDY HOP, YOU IDIOTS.[/]

I’d write a post about gender and DJing, but nothing has changed since the last time I wrote about it. Women do most of the local DJing, men dominate the DJ line ups at big events. Women DJs problem solve collaboratively, male DJs don’t. Men mansplain technical problems to me when I’m DJing (even if they know nothing about sound gear). There are one or two exceptions.

I’d write a post about labour and pay in the lindy hop world, but nothing has changed since the last time I wrote about it. Teachers, DJs and volunteers are overworked, underpaid and exploited. Dancers refuse to pay more than $40 for a big live band playing for four hours, even though they’re getting the best goddamn dancing of their lives in a restored ball room with the best musicians in the country. Fuckers still make volunteers work for hours and hours, and DJs still aren’t being paid properly by large events (if at all). No, comping entry is NOT THE SAME AS PAYING.

LINDY HOPPERS: stop being such bloody tight arses. Pay more money for live music. Pay more for events run by dancers, just so you can dance. $6 for a DJed gig? IT IS NOT ENOUGH. $20 for a live band in a large, clean space with a good dance floor? INSUFFICIENT. Refusing to pay more than $10 for a four or five hour late night party featuring two rooms of music, six DJs, free food and requiring about 25 people’s worth of labour? YOU ARE TOO TIGHT, DANCERS.

Just in case you thought things were totally fucked, they’re not. This past weekend I counted three or four women who only lead, who I had not seen out social dancing before. They were all wearing nice waistcoats and trousers and jackets and ties and were PWNING ALL. Male leads: you need to level up, because the sisters PWN YOU; your half-arsed leading, your lack of triple steps, your bullshit lazy arse lack of bounce is being shown up. It’s not too late: GO TO CLASS. LEARN ALL THE THINGS. GET GOOD. Male follows: GET ON THE GODDAMN FLOOR.

10 Replies to “No news”

  1. All Balboa Weekend featured a mostly female DJ lineup this year, which excited me to no end. Balboa leading the charge for equality in DJ’ing? But generally, yes, the male dominance is tiring and painfully noticeable at the larger events. All the other things you mention – all true, observed, and noted, with nothing done about it but excuses, laziness, and whining.

  2. So, you’re advocating raising prices and potentially alienating lower income people from going to dances? I might remind you that this dance is from Harlem, so forgive me if it seems a little, well, ‘rich.’

  3. I have to agree with Swinghile, a little rich for my blood. Now that I have some $, I’m happy to give it up but when I was a broke ass college student, that extra $7-10 a night meant no food for the week. And in many swing communities, college students make up a majority of students. A sliding scale is often pretty appropriate: some students can REALLY afford more but others can’t and I don’t see the point in alienating them. Yes we have to keep djs, bands and venues going with $ and at living-wages. But your attitude leaves a bad taste in my mouth and reminds me of the many reasons this dance is dominated by ‘white’ enthusiasts…

  4. Don’t be an idiot, Swinghile.

    Anyone who’d read even a little of this blog would know that I’m strongly committed to affordable, accessible dance events. Here’s some proof of how I put these ideal into action: Infuriated by the low-quality, high-cost dance events that dominated Australian lindy hop up to 2004 (there were some decent exceptions), I got off my arse and did something about it. Some friends and I formed the Melbourne Jazz Dance Association, which is the non-profit organisation which runs the Melbourne Lindy exchange, the largest, best quality swing dance event in the country. The MJDA’s charter reads:

    “The Melbourne Jazz Dance Association is a non-profit organisation devoted to the preservation and promotion of vernacular jazz dance and music in Melbourne, Australia. Its goal is to produce affordable dance events for Melbourne and visiting dancers, promoting the history of the dance as well as the current dance community.

    That means that they like to hold really good swing dance parties and invite all their friends.”

    The MJDA has always paid its workers (DJs, bands, etc) as well as possible (always paying more than other events in the country, and always the first to take up new initiatives in improving working conditions and pay rates). The MJDA has also instituted special passes or concessions for folks with cash flow problems.

    And of course, if you’re short of money you can do the obvious solution and volunteer (ie put in a bit of labour, get out a lot of dancing value). The key part of making volunteer labour equitable, is to have organisers keep shifts short and working conditions safe and enjoyable. When I manage volunteers for an event, I do these things.

    My role with the MJDA included managing volunteers (and ensuring good working conditions and suitable renumeration), managing DJs, and making sure organisers had good, safe working conditions which discouraged ridiculous overworking.

    Beyond working with the MJDA, I’ve also been involved with managing DJs for other events, and in each case I’ve been very strict about ensuring decent pay rates and working conditions for DJs. I also agitate for pay increases. If I’m invited to DJ at an event that fucks over DJs or other volunteers, I politely knock back the invitation and tell the organisers why: I don’t want to be associated with events that exploits people.

    But seriously, I don’t know why I’m justifying myself to you. This post is, after all, pointing out that very little has changed in the fourteen years I’ve been dancing. Most especially in the last ten years. This is because most dancers (who can afford it) are very, very unlikely to ask questions about working conditions for bands, volunteers, DJs, and organisers at dance events. They’re too busy looking for an adrenaline fix.

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