This is my personal website. All opinions here are my own and do not represent the interests or opinions of my employers.
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 or so. 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.
Running dance events
I’ve been involved with running large dance events in Australia since 2001 when I began volunteering with the Melbourne Lindy Exchange. Since then I’ve been involved with the MLX as a key organiser (on the organising committee in 2002, and as a founding member of the Melbourne Jazz Dance Association in 2005, 2006, 2007), and more recently as head DJ (2008, 2011, 2012). Over the years I’ve been involved as head DJ with other large events, including the Melbourne Swing Festival (2010, 2011, 2013) Sydney Swing Festival (2009) and Sydney Lindy Exchange (2009, 2010). You can read more about that here.
Here in Sydney I’ve organised a number of workshop/social dance weekends, including the Little Big Weekends. The most recent welcomed Lennart Westerlund and Georgia Brooks in May 2013. Previous Little Big Weekends have featured Ramona Staffeld (December 2012), and Georgia Brooks and Kieran Yee (May 2012). 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.
Right now I’m working on the Little Big Weekend with Ramona and Kieran (7-8 December 2013), featuring loads of live music from the Melbourne band Leigh Barker and the New Sheiks. That’s going to be REALLY exciting.
I can be found teaching with Alice every Wednesday at the Petersham Bowling Club here in Sydney.
At 6.30pm we teach the only weekly class in Sydney focussing on authentic jazz and swing era solo dance. Then there’s a beginners’ partner dancing (lindy hop, mostly) class at 7.30pm, and a level 2 lindy hop class at 8.30pm.
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
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. We were most recently 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.
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.