This is my personal website. All opinions here are my own.
Comments may be deleted without explanation. That’s the way I roll, yo. Here’s some of my thinking behind my zero tolerance policy for arsehat commenters. Remember: you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
I like dancing, music, reading, writing, watching telly and films, sewing, crocheting, canvas work, drawing, making popups, telling bad jokes and making puns, talking crap, eating excellent food, walking, cycling and swimming. I am obsessed with gluteal strength and my hamstrings. I see it as my personal responsibility to deconstruct the patriarchy and replace it with syncopated rhythms and an interest in handicrafts.
My research and writing
I am obsessed with jazz music and dance from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. I did my PhD in media/cultural studies on modern day swing dancers and how they use digital media, and have published journal articles, delivered conference papers and lectured on this and other topics. I also have an MA in media studies, a BA (with first class honours) in English and Media Studies, and a postgrad diploma in information management. I taught and researched in various Australian universities for ten years before I had jack of the shithouse working conditions. All that is behind me now. Today, I am all about writing heaps and heaps of stuff on the internet.
I write a bit about music, particularly jazz, and occasionally do reviews. These reviews look at particular recordings or performances from the perspective of DJs and dancers (well, from the perspective of this dancer and DJ). Musicians and publicists send me CDs or downloads to review, and I like this very much :D If someone sends me a CD for free for me to review, I make that clear in the review. If you’re interested in having me write about your CD or show, you can contact me at dogpossum at dogpossum dot org. Please note that my agreeing to review your act or recording does not guarantee a positive review. I don’t like to write nasty stuff about people’s art, but I like to write helpful reviews. Which means they’re honest.
Anything I write about jazz dance history which is even partly true is probably the product of my very generous dance historian friends’ work. Anything I write about jazz dance history which is untrue was probably something I made up.
As with all these sorts of things, it’s best to consult more than one source, and to be utterly sceptical of anything published by someone working in a university. I have found almost every academic source discussing lindy hop completely unreliable. I regularly reference the ones who aren’t full of shit.
I started dancing in Brisbane in 1998. Then I danced in Melbourne between 2001 and 2008. Then I moved to Sydney, where I’m still dancing. And DJing. Read more about my DJing here.
I first taught lindy hop in 2002 but then gave it up because it was interfering with my academic teaching. I started teaching again in 2012, and have been teaching lindy hop and solo jazz weekly here in Sydney since then.
Last year I resigned from my admin position with Swing Patrol Sydney. During my three years with this organisation I ran twenty four dances, workshops, and weekend events (including 8 independent dances.) I’ve just started my own dance business, Swing Dance Sydney, which is now the umbrella organisation for our parties, classes, workshops, and events.
Running dance events
Our goal with Swing Dance Sydney is to teach good quality dance classes that prioritise social dancing and good music, and to run small-scale social dancing events that involve the best musicians we can get, and the best DJs we can get. I’ve decided that locally-focussed events that cater to the needs of local dancers is the most important (and satisfying) thing I can do. Because they don’t kill me with work, because I get to dance too, and because I can run more of them, and respond more effectively to local peeps’ interests and needs.
What’s the program for this stuff?
We run occasional ‘Swinging at the PBC‘ parties at our Wednesday night venue. These are about live music. At an affordable price. So far we’ve hosted Hetty Kate (Melbourne), Ian Date (Ireland) and band; the Underscore Orkestra (Portland, Oregon) x2; Andy Baylor and his Big Four (Sydney); and the Squeezebox Trio (Sydney). We have another planned for April 8th with the Squeezebox Trio again.
With these parties we look for really good musicians, then bring them to our venue so our students (particularly the beginners!) can dance to great music right there in their usual class space. We keep the ticket price low, and we emphasise the social side of the night: eating, drinking, talking, dancing, hanging out. The parties are very successful.
I’ve just launched a regular DJed party night, Harlem, which I co-run with another Sydney organiser on a monthly basis. Again, the emphasis is on great music, proper social nights, and good dancing. At a tiny price. Why DJs instead of bands? Firstly, it’s affordable. Secondly, Count Basie was kind of ok, you know, so I’d like to play him for dancers. Thirdly, my DJing is starting to suck a bit, and I need some practice.
My most recent large-scale project was Jazz BANG, a big all-solo dance weekend of workshops and parties with international teachers. I talked about it a bit here and here. It was the most exciting and interesting event I’ve ever done.
I’ve been involved with running large dance events in Australia since 2001 when I began volunteering with the Melbourne Lindy Exchange. Here in Sydney I’ve organised a number of workshop/social dance weekends, including the Little Big Weekend. These weekends focus on providing high quality workshops for local dancers, covering a range of material from solo dance, lindy hop and blues dance to teacher training. My emphasis is, once again, on the best working conditions possible for all teachers and volunteers, and on equitable, accessible classes for all students.
Event management (aka organising dance events)
- Harlem hosts Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys (Perth) (Sat 2 May 2015)
- Swinging at the PBC with the Squeezebox Trio (Wed 8 Apr 2015)
- Swinging at the PBC with the Underscore Orkestra (Wed 14 Jan 2015)
- Swinging at the PBC with Andy Baylor’s Big Four (Wed 12 November 2014)
- Event organisation and administration. Swing Patrol Sydney (2012-2014).
- General Manager. Jazz BANG solo jazz weekend (10-12 October 2014). Including live music, workshops with Lennart Westerlund (Sweden) and Marie N’Daiye (Sweden) and parties featuring DJs and live music (including Andrew Dickeson’s Swingtet, the Basement Big Band, the Corridors, and the Squeezebox Trio). website | facebook event.
- General Manager. Swing Patrol Sydney Winter Performance Ball with the Basement Big Band (23 August 2014). facebook event.
- Organiser and teacher. Frankie Fest with Brad Child and his Vipers (14 June 2014), Sydney. facebook event.
- Organiser. Rugcutters’ Swing with Adrian Cunningham (29 March 2014), Sydney. facebook event
- Organiser and Head DJ. Hot Foot Stomp (18 January 2014). website
- General Manager. Little Big Weekend 4 with Ramona Staffeld, Kieran Yee and the Melbourne Rhythm Project, (Sydney, 7-8 December 2013) website| facebook
- Organiser and DJ. Swinging at the PBC with Hetty Kate and Ian Date, Wednesday 4th Dec, 2013. website
- Organiser and DJ. Hot Foot stomp, 18th October, 2013. website
- General Manager, Swing Patrol with the Basement Big Band, Sydney, 24 August 2013.
- Organiser and general manager. Little Big Weekend 3 with Lennart Westerlund and Georgia Brooks (May 2013). facebook
- Organiser and general manager. Little Big Weekend 2 with Ramona Staffeld (December 2012).
- Organiser and general manager. Little Big Weekend 1 with Georgia Brooks and Kieran Yee (May 2012) Sydney. Including Swing Patrol Sydney Meet The Scene Ball.
- Assistant organiser, One Billion (Jazz Dancers) Rising charity dance, (February 2012), Sydney.
- Melbourne Lindy Exchange organising committee member (volunteer coordinator, web design, event management, DJ coordination, promotions, etc) 2005-2008.
- Melbourne Jazz Dance Association, founding member 2005-2008.
- Melbourne Lindy Exchange, organising committee member, 2001-2002.
DJ management (aka Head DJ and DJ coordinator)
- Head DJ. Melbourne Lindy Exchange, 28th Nov – 1st Dec, 2013
- Head DJ. Melbourne Swing Festival 2013, 2011, 2010. website
- Head DJ. Melbourne Lindy Exchange 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006.
- Head DJ. Sydney Swing Festival 2009.
- Head DJ. Sydney Lindy Exchange 2009.
I do the design and websites for these events, so here is some bragging:
I teach lindy hop and all sorts of other dances from the jazz and swing ages, as both a leader and follower with various (lovely) partners in Sydney. We founded a new business – Swing Dance Sydney – to teach our classes and coordinate our large social dancing events. Wahoo!
I can be found teaching with Alice, Laura, or Bec every Wednesday at the Petersham Bowling Club here in Sydney.
At 6.30pm we teach a beginners’ partner dancing class (lindy hop, mostly), and a level 2 lindy hop class at 8.00pm.
All our classes welcome leaders and followers of any sex or orientation, and you can join in any time.
You won’t need a partner – we supply those :D
Vintage Solo Jazz Dance
At 6.30pm on Thursdays at La Fiesta Dance Factory we teach the only weekly class in Sydney focussing on authentic jazz and swing era solo dance.
You can follow us:
- on twitter (we tweet as @SwingDanceSyd)
- on Faceplant page: https://www.facebook.com/SwingDanceSydney
- on instagram at @swingdancesydney
- or check out our site swingdancesydney.com which handles all that stuff.
Alice and I also teach the odd blues dance class at the Juke Joint, do summer session advanced dance classes over the holidays, teach drop-in classes at local swing dance balls, and work with the local lindy hop performance troupe on their solo dancing. In 2013 we were invited to teach a simple solo routine as part of Sydney’s One Billion (jazz dancers) Rising, a fundraising event which donated all profits to the Taree Women and Children’s Refuge. That was the best gig we’ve ever done.
In 2014 we taught lindy hop and solo jazz dance in Christchurch, NZ, at the Christchurch Swing Festival: FUN.
Everything I teach is the product of someone else’s hard work. Dance historians are the best of all the things, second only to those badass peeps who invented this action in the first place. Without them, we’d still be sitting on the couch.
So, if you’re filled with the love of dance, making money from lindy hop or just giving a shit about those badass dancers, you might like to donate to the Lindy Hoppers Fund. Don’t be a tightarse – bring your hot action.