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 lived and 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.
In 2014 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), and began focussing on booking the best local, interstate, and international jazz bands I could find.
I now run my own dance business, Swing Dance Sydney, which is 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.
My current most favourite thing is working with musicians to put together bands and programs of live music which are just perfect for dancing, and which musicians enjoy and find fulfilling too.
What’s the program for this stuff?
Wednesdays we teach lindy hop
We run ‘Block Parties‘ at our Wednesday night venue every six weeks. We often have DJs or live bands when we can afford it. So far we’ve hosted Adrian Cunningham (NY), Andrew Dickeson’s Blue Rhythm Band (Sydney), Hetty Kate (Melbourne), Ian Date (Ireland); the Underscore Orkestra (Portland, Oregon) x2; Andy Baylor and his Big Four (Sydney); and the Squeezebox Trio (Sydney).
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.
Harlem is the Swing Dance Sydney monthly party. 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. Having said that, we book bands whenever we have the money. So far we have hosted Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys (Perth), George Swellington’s Splendid Six (Amsterdam), and Andrew Dickeson’s Blue Rhythm Band.
In 2018 I ran Jazz BANG with my business partner Sharon Hanley. Jazz BANG is a big dance weekend of workshops and parties with international teachers and exceptional musicians. This is an annual event.
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 Jazz with Ramona, Tap with Ryan, and the Little Big Weekend. These weekends focus on providing high quality workshops for local dancers, covering a range of material including solo dance, tap dance, lindy hop, blues dance, and 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)
- Jazz with Ramona (10-11 February 2017) feat. workshops with Ramona Staffeld, and parties with live music.
- The Little Big Weekend 7 feat. the Harlem Spoon lindy hop contest, and guest teachers Marie N’Diaye and Anders Sihlberg (3-5 May 2017).
- Adrian Cunningham and his band swinging at the PBC (Wednesday 14th December 2016)
- Tap with Ryan 2 (Saturday 3rd August 2016)
- Harlem Stays up Late as part of the Last Minute exchange, and feat. Andrew Dickeson’s Blue Rhythm Band (Fri 10 June 2016)
- The Little Big Weekend 6 feat. the Harlem Spoon lindy hop contest and guest teachers Jenny Deurell and Rikard Ekstrand (13-15 May 2016).
- Harlem with the Blue Rhythm Band and the Harlem Teaspoon (Friday 6 May 2016)
- Tap with Ryan (Sunday 13 March 2016)
- Jazz with Ramona (5-6 February 2016) feat. workshops with Ramona Staffeld, and parties with live music from Swellington’s Splendid Six, and Andrew Dickeson’s Blue Rhythm Band.
- The Little Big Weekend 5 including workshops with Lennart Westerlund, and parties with Swellington’s Splendid Six, and Andrew Dickeson’s Blue Rhythm Band (9-11 October 2015)
- 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).
- 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 Swing Festival 2013, 2011, 2010.
- Head DJ. Melbourne Lindy Exchange 2013, 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.