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May 31, 2006

go 20s charleston, go!

"go 20s charleston, go!" was posted by dogpossum on May 31, 2006 5:11 PM in the category clicky and digging and lindy hop and other dances

what a tool

I should open my eyes and understand that the iPod is a chain-smoking long-hair that craves exactly three (3) things: chicks, cigarettes and METAL, in reverse order. The iPod hangs out in the smoking section and takes your girlfriend to the Maiden concert. You big fucking pussy.
(the patriarch)

"what a tool" was posted by dogpossum on May 31, 2006 2:26 PM in the category clicky and digging


Perusing some old photos on flickr, I couldn't leave this one. Check out that crinkled face. Doubting, much?

"Scepticism" was posted by dogpossum on May 31, 2006 10:20 AM in the category mood swings

May 25, 2006

call of the freaks - mora's modern rhythmists

call of the freaks is an album by a contempoary band. I doubt I'll listen to it as much as my cab stuff, but it's worth it just for the versions of rigamarole and . These two songs have prompted my willie bryant passion... unrequited passion.

"call of the freaks - mora's modern rhythmists" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2006 4:03 PM in the category digging and djing and music

cab calloway (vol2) - 1935-1940 - on JSP

Cab Calloway (vol2) 1935-1940 on JSP
That's some hot shit. 4 discs of Cab goodness. Almost every single song I've listened to so far (starting in 1940 and working backwards, for a change) is danceable, and every song rocks. I love this man. I love his kick-arse band during this period. Oh, this is SWEET.

...this is the second set from Cab on the JSP label, which is cheap, but better quality than the Proper stuff. I also adored the first one, Cab Calloway the early years, 1930-1934.

"cab calloway (vol2) - 1935-1940 - on JSP" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2006 3:52 PM in the category digging and djing and music

May 23, 2006


Ok, so I'm hitting another period of crazy productivity. Look out supervisor.

Today I finished off redraft5.2 of chapters 2 and 3. I had had some concerns about chapter 2, but I think I fixed it, even though it meant cutting out a sweeeeet section on the relationship between jazz and dance in the 20s and 30s.

That was really just a long-winded way of my describing the way improvisation is contained within social/community structures in African American vernacular culture. I'm using this as a way of describing how the introduction of new ideas and ideology and self-expression/representation ('difference') is managed by community/social/discursive structures in African American vernacular dance in a productive and creative way. In contrast, contemporary swing dance culture in Melbourne marginalises difference by discouraging improvisation, innovation and the representation of self by the emphasis on formal classes, rote-learning and routines. The bit I'm really interested in is how media figures in all this - how do AV media do this? How does DJing do this? And of course, what role do dance schools play in this? Finally, how does this sort of marginalising of difference work as a capitalist tactic, particularly in developing a market for commodified dance (ie classes)?

That's my thesis right there.

But I do take time out in each chapter to look at resistance to and transgression of this marginalisation of difference. In chapter 3 I look at how women might do feminist work in partner dancing by doing 'black' switches; leading; solo dancing. In chapter 4 I consider... well, I'm not sure yet. I'll get back to you. Anyhoo, I read this resistance as the utilisation of African American dance discourse themes/tactics/practices (eg improvisation) by contemporary swing dancers. Which is neat, because Af-Am dance was all about resistance, particularly in the pre-emancipation era and on into the 20s and 30s.

So it's all going nicely. Tomorrow I wrestle with chapter 4 (AV media), then I meet with the supes on Thursday. I'd actually like to leave that meeting til the following Thursday... I'll see what I can do.
Friday I will try to do chapter 5, but I don't know - I have to DJ on Thursday so who knows how productive I'll be on Friday. Anyway, I'll finish off chapters 5 and 6 by the end of next week. Hopefully I'll be able to go back through and make it all hang together. Chapters 2 and 3 are totally tight - the bestest best friends. Who knows what 4, 5 and 6 are doing. And the conclusion? I doubt it's go anybody's back, at the moment. But I trust 1 is ok. Just rough-edged and not really smoothing the way for the rest of the homies.

The Squeeze dreads these periods of insane, obsessively-compulsive productivity. Mostly because they're followed by the inevitable crash as I wind myself tighter and tighter, tiring myself out with longer and longer hours. Hopefully I'll get through redraft 5.2 before then.

"busybusy" was posted by dogpossum on May 23, 2006 7:07 PM in the category thesis

May 22, 2006

i'm going to get you scott tennerman

Every now and then I catch and episode of SouthPark and it makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
Pony jokes, Radio Head and Cartman's first pubes. 10 out of 10.

"i'm going to get you scott tennerman" was posted by dogpossum on May 22, 2006 9:46 PM in the category digging and television

helloooooo winter of content

It's so cold in my room that the paper is steaming as it comes out of the printer.

Ah, I do so love the smell of freshly printed next-to-last redrafts.

"helloooooo winter of content" was posted by dogpossum on May 22, 2006 2:17 PM in the category thesis

May 21, 2006

mills blue rhythm band/Henry Red Allen/Don Redman/McKinney's Cotton Pickers

I want this (Mills Blue Rhythm Band 1933-34 (chron. classic)) SO badly.
Everyone else has it, I have to too.

Then I want this (Henry Red Miller and his Orch 1929-30 (JSP)).

And to be absolutely clear, I also want this (The Band Don Redman Built - McKinney's Cotton Pickers (RCA).

All scratchy, all the time.

"mills blue rhythm band/Henry Red Allen/Don Redman/McKinney's Cotton Pickers" was posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2006 7:59 PM in the category djing and music and objects of desire

gastropod Saturday

In the spirit of practicality, I think I'm going to declare Saturday or Sunday gastropod day, seeing as how we only eat crappy food on Friday nights. This time it was an awful 'middle eastern' chicken and cous cous dish which I once knew how to cook but now, obviously, can no longer manage.
Thank god I followed it up on Saturday with an easy 'Moroccan chicken'* dish which was delish.
Basically, you grate up some ginger, crush some garlic (however much you dig), chop up an onion, fry it all til the onion is transparent, then add an overflowing tsp of ground cumin**, 2 massive tsps of ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika, fry for a minute or til it smells good, then add some water, stirring or whisking to get the stuff combined well. Add some chicken legs and cook for 20 mins. Then pop the chook legs in the oven for 20-30mins (til they're done), simmering the wet stuff on the stove top til it thickens and reduces. Plop the cous cous on the plate, pop the chook on top, stir some fresh parsley and coriander (I add quite a lot as I really like this bit) into the wet stuff and serve immediately (rather than dropping the herbs on top - this way they flavour the wet stuff nicely) with lemon wedges and fat olives. And a salad of greens, mint, tomato and cucumber with an olive oil/lemon juice/garlic dressing.

ROCK the kasbah!

*I'm not quite sure what 'Moroccan' means in this instance, but heck.
**That's pronounced 'kew-min' in our house, thanks. None of this 'kumm-in' rubbish.

how much chicken? as many drumsticks per person as you can manage. That's eleventy for me and 0.5 for The Squeeze, who is revolted by meat on the bone.
how much water? ti it covers the chicken.
what's reduced? when the wet stuff is thicker, and there's enough to wet the cous cous on the plate properly, but not drown it.
how do i make cous cous? now you're scaring me. put some in a bowl. take it out and rinse it in a sieve til the water runs clear. put it back in the bowl. cover with hot water, stir. let it sit til it's absorbed. stir with fork. if the grains are soft, rock on. if not, add a bit more water. or follow the instructions on the box. or google.
how do i make the salad? get a recipe book, or get a CLUE.

"gastropod Saturday" was posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2006 7:36 PM in the category digging and fewd

the Squeeze declares

The Squeeze has declared that there shall be no:

  • tutting

  • shuffling

  • hand wringing

  • shouting

  • screaming

  • huffing

  • subvocalising about Jesus, Young People, National Pride or Noise

on the tram. I'm not sure how he plans to enforce this, though I'm sure mimi smartypants could offer suggestions as a fellow PT stooge.
I, on the other hand, never seem to notice these PT crazy people, mostly because I read a book so I can tune out and not hear anything or anyone on the bus (which is why I don't see the point of ipods - a book is far more interesting and effective a crazy-person deterrant). Or else I ride my bike.

"the Squeeze declares" was posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2006 7:14 PM in the category travel

Buffy season 3

Season 3 of Buffy has us in hand. It's my sixty millionth time through the Buffy series, but The Squeeze hasn't seen them all. We're enjoying them very much, though our viewing has synchronised with someone else who's borrowing them from the video shop*. We watch them faster than they do, but they keep them out for the whole week and won't let us get ahead - whenever we make a preemptive strike and borrow the couple of discs ahead of them, they retaliate and take the next two. Which sucks, as we're done with ours in less than a week, while they keep them for the whole week.

We're nearly at the end (just one or two discs to go), and then we'll start getting Angel out as well. I have convinced The Squeeze that we have to watch the two in conjunction. Personally, Angel was the only thing that kept me with Buffy at the end there. Buffy herself craps me to tears - she's such a whingey little ho...

*I want to make a dumb joke about female fans, woman-friendly telly and synchronised menstrual cycles, but I can't quite manage it...

"Buffy season 3" was posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2006 5:53 PM in the category digging and television

May 19, 2006

perhaps the most useless site ever...

cyclovia will be on the 28th of May in the 'wick. Now, I already consider Sydney Road my own private cyclovia, but it seems the pedders are getting into the action on that day.
the deal: I know, it only tells you what a stupid cyclovia is below the crease, but still. Just cause you can ride a bike, don't mean you got basic internet skills. ha!
basically, they close the road off to cars for 6 hours between Moreland and Brunswick Rds. Sounds like Sydney Rd Festival without the stalls (although.... if I know Brunswick, there'll be stalls galore). Also sounds a bit like a bit PR stunt for the local MPs. The cyclovia thing does have international precedents, though, and I should perhaps be more positive about this.

Anyhoo, sounds good if you live nearby. But I'm interested in the local residents' responses...

"perhaps the most useless site ever..." was posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2006 4:47 PM in the category bikes

willie bryant & his orch 1935-36 (chron. classic)

I want this. Hell, I want lots of things. Yep, $25 a set, twice a month, goes a loooong way.

"willie bryant & his orch 1935-36 (chron. classic)" was posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2006 4:23 PM in the category objects of desire

gastropod friday - last week

Forgot to note: bought some ace pancetta from nino and joe's last week, then chopped up a bunch, fried it in virgin olive oil and garlic, added a hydro tomato, then some baby spinach and rocket and a bit of dried chilli. Served with pasta from pasta man, local parmesan on top, and some lovely fresh bread from the mediterranean supermarket.
It was so wonderful i nearly died. Fat? Hell YEAH! We're not babies here! That pancetta is the serious shit (I'm pronouncing it the way everyone in Brunswick does - pan-che-tta - as I type). It has such a ... robust. I have to say robust, even though it's wanky food talk. It's saltier and gamey-er than bacon, and has a more full-on flavour than insipid bacony rubbish. You don't need as much in your dish, and it has a more fierce taste that really works well with stronger flavoured Italian greens or cheeses. I hadn't cooked it before. It comes in a piece, a bit like spec (specula? that bacony-type thing), sort of like the bit of bacon rashers that's not the eye. Well, the piece I bought was. It's darker than bacon, keeps for aaaaages, is kind of greazy but is harder than bacon. I guess it's cured for longer. One piece cost me $4 (or 6, I forget) and lasted me 2 dinners. Dunno how much it weighed.

The local parmesan is stinking out the fridge.

"gastropod friday - last week" was posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2006 2:30 AM in the category fewd

benny goodman the vampire slayer

Today I picked up the complete RCA Victor Benny Goodman small group recordings (3 cds, $45, see ya later DJing money) and it ROCKS. I love early Benny Goodman so much. And this trio and quartet stuff makes me want to weep with joy. I also really really like the Sextet stuff, but, well, they're not on this awesome collection. It really rocks: Lionel Hampton on vibraphone (!! I LOVE Hamp a crazylot), Gene Krupa on drums, Teddy Wilson on piano and Goodman on clarinet (of course). This stuff was so radical and amazing at the time - musically it was unique and exciting, socially the group was way radical, with 2 black doods and 2 white in the one band, on stage together, at a time when segregation was legally enforced in much of the USA. We're talking about the 30s here, and the group were edited out of the films they starred in for films screened in the south of the US.
Musically, it's fascinating stuff. The way those doods work together is awesome.

Yeah, so I'm loving this set. I was describing its wonderfulness to The Squeeze here, while he lay under the chenille bedspread reading a book about computers and I counted bpms: it's a nicely packaged set, with nice black and white photos of the band. Krupa and Hamp are grinning like crazy people and Goodman and Wilson are more reserved. There are even photos of the band on the cds. Which prompted The Squeeze's statement "like Buffy. Benny Goodman the vampire slayer."

Well, I guess so. Into each generation a chosen one is born.

"benny goodman the vampire slayer" was posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2006 2:18 AM in the category digging and djing and music

May 12, 2006

variety show

Name - Artist - Album - BPM - Year

Fine Brown Frame - Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra - Walk 'Em - 113 - 1945
Undecided Blues - Count Basie and His Orchestra with Jimmy Rushing Cutting Butter - The Complete Columbia Recordings 1939 - 1942 (disc 03) - 120 - 1941
Spinnin' The Webb - Chick Webb and his Orchestra - Stompin' at the Savoy - 134 - 2002
Don't Falter At The Altar - Cab Calloway Are You Hep to the Jive? - 138 - 1994
Jersey Bounce - Benny Goodman and His Band - Benny Goodman the Collection - 137 - 2004
Shoutin' Blues Count Basie and His Orchestra Kansas City Powerhouse 148 1949
I Love Being Here With You - Ernestine Anderson - 135
Bli-Blip - Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis - Live in Swing City: Swingin' with Duke - 134 - 1999
Nice Work If You Can Get It - Sarah Vaughan - Ladies Sing the Blues (volume 1) - 145 - 2000
Love Me or Leave Me - Jennie Löbel and Swing Kings - He Ain't Got Rhythm - 128 - 2001
Every Day I Have The Blues - Count Basie - Breakfast Dance and Barbecue - 116 - 1959
C-Jam Blues - Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis Live in Swing City: Swingin' with Duke - 143 - 1999
Shufflin' And Rollin' - Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra - Walk 'Em - 153 - 1952
Four Or Five Times - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - Tempo and Swing - 189 - 1939
Apollo Jump - Lucky Millinder - Apollo Jump - 143
Lavender Coffin - Lionel Hampton, etc - Lionel Hampton Story 4: Midnight Sun - 138 - 1949
Be Careful (If You Can't Be Good) - Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra - Walk 'Em - 121 - 1951
Til My Baby Comes Back - Ella Johnson with Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra - Walk 'Em - 118 - 1952
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? - Dinah Washington - The Swingin' Miss "D" - 140 - 1956
Blues In Hoss' Flat - Count Basie - Big Band Renaissance Disc 1 - 142 - 1995
Till Tom Special - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - Tempo and Swing - 158 - 1940
Flying Home - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - Lionel Hampton Story 2: Flying Home - 197 - 1942
Tippin' In - Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra - Tuxedo Junction - 144 - 1942
For Dancers Only - Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra - Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford - 154 - 1937

That's my set from last week (Thurs 11th May, first set, 8.30-10pm). It went down a treat. After analysing it in painful detail here, I notice how frequently I repeat myself. So I played a total of 24 songs. Four were by Basie, 4 by Buddy Johnson (of the one album, no less), 4 were by Lionel Hampton. That's scary. 12 songs by only 3 artists. I mean, I did wander all over their careers with these jobbies - they're not all from the one year or anything. But still. I need more variety.
That issue of variety has been cropping up on Swing Talk a lot lately, mostly from a couple (literally 2) of dickheads demanding we play 'more variety'. By variety they mean Royal Crown Revue

"variety show" was posted by dogpossum on May 12, 2006 10:06 PM in the category djing

May 9, 2006

could this be cabin fever?

It's cold and windy (ah, the downside of Melbourne in the autumn - overcast skies, endless Antarctican winds, rain. rain. rain),
I have some serious muscle tension in my right shoulder/back/neck which is trying to become a headache,
I'm worried about an article I have to submit on the 20th which isn't re-edited yet (because my supervisor(s) can't keep up with my prodigiously productive brain. hell, my productivity is scaring even me at the moment),
our lounge room is full of drying laundry that smells odd,
I'm in that difficult blanket - quilt interum period, where it's too hot for a proper quilt, but too cold for less than 6 blankets (whose weight no doubt contributes to my muscle tension, seeing as how I can't roll over in bed as I'm pinned to the mattress by 60million blankets) so I'm not sleeping properly, or having weirdo, too-hot dreams about superheroes (all sans cape),
I'm sewing obsessively (they're nice camel needle cord trousers. why thankyou, but it's not camel - it's sand. only $4 a metre),
I can't face cooking or doing the washing up (Saigon City, you are going Down - no more home deliver for US, thank you very much),
mysterious boxes keep arriving (as per usual - I see the parcel guy nearly every day), but they're never for me (seeing as how I can't afford to buy anything more often than once every couple of months - and then only cheap CDs) and they're never worth opening as they're always cords or bits of computer and boring if you're not an uber-nerd,
did I mention the muscle tension? ow! Dang, I need more exercise, but anxiety-induced malaise and autumn weather are not condusive to long bike rides or step-step-triple-step practice,
I love my yoga mat, especially now it no longer smells weird. Was it wrong to hose it in the backyard?
I've just read some fascinating articles on the phenomenology stuff, but half of me is distressed because it's way too late in the thesis progress to discover important articles and I'm not sure I'm buying this bullshit phenomenology crap,
I think I have that thing where 9months pregnant women suddenly aren't sure they want to go through with this. What will I do without my thesis? You know you have to give it away as soon as it's done, don't you?
I'm partway through a crazed Buffy re-veiwing obsessession. Somewhere in season 3 (best season ever), and I'm still getting at least one good scare (though usually 2-3) for each 2 episodes we watch a night. I get startled/scared easily. I think it's because, when we were young, my brother and I went through a prolonge phase of scaring the bejesus out of each other. We'd wait behind doors or under beds and then jump out at the other, yelling "YAH!" to scare the other. And it worked. Thing is, the more scares you get, the more easily scared you are. Plus there's the whole anticipationn-of-a-scare thing. I mean, we both thought it was neat, even when we were scared and angry-laughingly chasing the other round the house for retribution. But still. I'm still a trembly leaf person. And I've noted that (having just leapt out of the larder at our p's house, after huddling silently in wait for ages, fleeing from my life from my hulking younger brother, both of us giggling like fools, leaping cats and ignoring shouted 'stop shouting! calm down!' threats from the ps) that he's just as susceptible to the scare as I am. What have we done to each other? Made it impossible to watch scary films? Or perhaps made scary films that much more exciting for ourselves?
I'm dancing like crap. Like real, terrible, awful crap. I need to work on my dancing to get better, but it's just not a priority in my life at the moment (not when I have trousers to make).

could this be cabin fever?

yoga. I need yoga. Thank god class is on tonight!

"could this be cabin fever?" was posted by dogpossum on May 9, 2006 2:50 PM in the category domesticity

May 6, 2006

no capes!

Riding in to town the other day I passed a goth chick in full ensemble who reminded me why the no capes rule for superheroes is as applicable for cyclists. Floor length velvet or no.

"no capes!" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2006 4:21 PM in the category bikes

May 5, 2006

gastropod friday

Today is, as declared in previous entries and enthusiastically promoted by galaxy gastropod friday.

I haven't a whole lot of impressive things to say, what with Friday usually being 'eat out day' because it's the end of the week and we're tired.
Yesterday I went to the pasta dood over on Lygon St (upper Lygon St, thanks, not that tourist trap end) and spent another ridiculous sum. Mostly because The Squeeze had pleaded tearfully with me to buy him some more fresh pasta from the man.

The pasta shop is great. It only sells pasta, a couple of cheeses, olive oil and tomato paste. If it sold garlic, we'd be set. It might, actually, but I haven't seen it.
They sell mostly plain pasta, but in every single size and shape, dry (still better than store-bought pasta), frozen (mostly filled, and including gnocchi to die for) and fresh (all in trays like ham at the deli - you buy by the weight). I bought a kilo (or half a kilo?) of frozen cheese-filled round ravioli things (I can't remember their names - I'll have to check), a kilo of dry curly-edged fettucini (like parpadelle, but narrower), a kilo of half-circle tubes with frilly edges (dry). I figured it was time to stop at $20, even though the pasta man, once again, was disappointed in my failure to purchase fresh pasta. But I couldn't be sure of when we'd eat it, and I was running out of room in my backpack.

This pasta is amazing. It's not a chic, foody-porn shop like the ones in lower Lygon St, with fancy 'hand tooled' wooden shelves and quaintly aproned middle aged maggie beer types. It's got white tiles on most surfaces, big freezers with semi-legible hand-scrawled tags that don't actually list all the pasta available (but that's ok as the dood follows you around, fetching stuff out for you), and stacks and stacks of piles of pasta all over the place. There are some wooden shelves, but they're stacked with bags of pasta, so I'm not sure how chic they are. This is pasta-ville. And you can get decent olive oil (though everyone who Knows pops over to the Mediterranean Supermarket for oil - Note To Self: buy tin of virgin olive oil NOW).
The best bit is the old dood serving you. Quite often when I arrive and push through the not-chic plastic anti-fly strips in the doorway, he's sitting on a stool in the kitchen area out the back napping. I make sure to stomp so he hears me. I should yell out 'bon gorno!' like everyone else in Brunswick, but I'm shy. Then he walks out a little unsteadily to help. He is REALLY old. And really helpful. He knows pasta like nobody knows pastas. He's also Italian (duh). And nice. And very old-school gentleman, so he's a little ruffled by the way I stuff everything into my bike and then take it all out to lug on the bike home. We have shared a few chuckles over my having to ride really fast so my frozen stuff doesn't melt on summer days.

Anyhoo, after that, I busted in on a new veggie shop over the road where i wrangled free home delivery for my goodies from a Russian chick who scared me a bit. It's cheaper than La Manna, but doesn't have the range. But still, home delivery. It's good. Seeing as how I can't carry all our veggies home in my backpack with pasta.

Then it was off to the IGA on Sydney Rd near Albion St for 'local' parmesan. I don't know what 'local' means, but it's some awesome stinky shit. Hey, anyone know what the difference between pecorino and parmesan is? I also bought some procutio, some ham, some awesome mozarella, some spicey sausage slices (dunno the name), some semi-dried tomatos, forgot to count varieties of olives (there are 12 at the safeway near the bike path), got some shitty skip wafer biscuits (i couldn't find the italian ones which rock - need to go to the med. sup.) and went home.
We had less than excellent pizza (Squeeze liked it, I wasn't convinced) that night and enjoyed all that good shit.

But tonight is pasta night. Filled pasta with some little meat balls I made a while ago with Nino and Joe mince (man they rocked!) and froze raw. They'll be served with either a tomatoey sauce or a spinachy one. I will see how I feel. If I'd remembered I'd have picked up some boconcini to make yum-o basil, tomato, baby spinach and boconcini salad as well.

So I guess it really was a gastropod Thursday, what with me stuffing all that goodness into my excellent backpack. I was a little, wheeled snail with a house full of food on my back.

"gastropod friday" was posted by dogpossum on May 5, 2006 4:13 PM in the category fewd

taking a cat for a walk: DJing and phenomenological media studies

I'm addressing some interesting points Brian raise in the comments to the unexpectedly entry from a couple entries ago.

Brian writes in that comment:

That of course leads on to the big question is: “Is playing a small amount of non-swing music at a swing event a major problem.” The smarty pants answer would be, just play some Neo. My real answer is I don’t know. What I to know is that to put a non-swing song in your set and for it to go down will with all the dancers takes a lot of skill. I find you must first make sure all the classic hard core dancers are happy and maybe even some of them left (gone outside) the room. Play some hardcore classic songs in a row of upper tempo and you should achieve this. Then it’s a matter is checking if those “non-swing mood group are in the room and ready to dance. You then need to make the transition and then comes the non-swing song. And hey the songs selection is like bringing a cat for a walk.

This section really interested me. That's a really clever approach. I'd been thinking "there's no way I'm every playing neo because I hate it". But this scheme offers me a new approach. It reminds me of Trev's comment here on Swing Talk where he says:

Yes, the 'wave'!

I was using it last night (will post set soon) - although lately i've been more brutal with my tempo changes - it's great for shaking things up, and avoids things "sounding all the same".

Don't be afraid to drop in a fast, high energy one when you have the floor full at medium. I'm not talking crazy fast, but something around 190-210bpm. The folks that are into it will be hanging out for it, and if you keep the tempos too low (to keep the floor full) they will get bored/lazy. Even if you only get 2 couples dancing to a fast song, you get the benefits of:
a) lifting the energy/enthusiasm of the room even if they don't dance; b) inspiring others to get better go they can do it too. It's not the same for everyone, but when I was new watching a high-energy dance motivated me to keep at;
c) sending people to the bar to spend their $ on the venue!

If you do it right, the room will be buzzing, and you can follow up with something at around 150 and everyone will be right back into it.

I generally wouldn't play more that 2 fast tempo songs in a row. People start getting pissed if they don't want to/can't dance fast, and tired if they've been dancing to it.

(NB the setlist he's referring to is here, though I'm not sure which setlist he means)). For a description of 'the wave' check out this thread on swingdjs.

... ok, so now to address the point.

Basically, both Trev and Brian are suggesting that the DJ use the 'wave' - which is a way of describing the general 'flow' of mood in the room, to provoke a particular response from dancers. It's hard to explain how it works with dancers, but

I've just been reading some fascinating articles referring to David Seamon's book A Geography of the Lifeworld where he describes exactly this phenomeon - people making a space 'place' by repeated actions and social interaction. So, everyday a man makes a coffee shop 'place' by rising at 8, walking to the coffee shop, buying a paper, ordering a poached egg and coffee, eating and reading til 9 when he walks on to work. The man comments that he is only made aware of how 'comforting' and 'warm' this cafe space is when the series of actions is interrupted by something like the paper being sold out.

Seamon talks about this as people becoming aware of their 'precognitive' behaviour only when it's interrupted. In other words, he's interested in what happens when people are made conscious of the stuff they do habitually in particular spaces to make those spaces a 'place'.
This phenomenological stuff really makes me laugh, because they write like no one has ever thought to investigate what happens when you make people aware of their unconscous habits. When of course, any physiotherapist, yoga instructor or dance teacher spends all their working hours helping people develop a 'body awareness', where they become conscious of the things they do habitually with their bodies and muscles.

but anyway...
That theory seems particularly relevent to this discussion of DJing, because DJs are basically people who develop the skills to manipulate the mood of a room full of dancers so as to get them all dancing. I've been absolutely fascinated, as a noob DJ, by the way the choices I make in playing songs and combining songs can affect the mood of a crowded room. While, as a dancer, I respond unconsciously to the music, either getting really 'high' with uptempo, upenergy music, or getting really 'low', and moderating my dancing (my unconscious movements and social behaviour), as a DJ, I've had to become conscious of this process and figure out how it works.
It's important to note that 'precognitive' behaviour is essential to skilled partner dancing. I'm frequently reminding myself 'stop thinking!' and 'just follow!'. It's like driving a manual car - you suddenly reach a point when you're learning where the combination of accelerator, clutch, gear stick, etc becomes unconscious. And when you're suddenly made conscious of this process, it often stuffs up.
Leading, however, can be more comfortably 'cognitive' than following as you are planning and determining the course of the dance. I have found, though, that the best dances, the most effective ones, where I really use my centre to move their centre, are the ones where I relax and 'just move my body' naturally, rather than 'trying to lead' in order to effect weight changes which in turn move the follow's weight - effecting their weigh changes.

So when Trev talks about manipulating the wave (ie developing a 'mood' or 'vibe' in the room, or, to use Seamon's approach, making a space 'place' through playing music which will provoke particular social responses through dance), Brian talks about exploiting the wave/dancers' response to the wave to sneak in songs which are potentially going to 'break' the wave. So he plays 'risky' songs (like neo) after a couple of faster, old school swinging jazz traacks, so that he can exploit the old school fans' taking time out for a break to slip in some neo. So the potential 'risk' of playing the neo stuff is ameliorated.

Trev also talks about 'breaking' the wave constructively by making quicker transitions between tempos - dropping in a fast one, even if the floor was full at slower tempos, then dropping the tempo down again to 'recover' and pick up the dancers who've stepped off the floor for that fast song. And, incidentally, giving those who danced the faster song a break.

This is fascinating shit, because it all reveals how important it is as a DJ to be a dancer, but perhaps more importantly, to consciously recognise how dancers respond to combinations of songs and musical moods to manipulate the mood of the room, but also to 'please everyone'. I adore this approach because of the way it contrasts with the comment "you can't please everyone" a DJ (whose work doesn't impress me at all) said to me recently. This comment 'you can't please everyone' seems (in the case of this DJ) to serve as justification for not attempting to work the room and 'wave'. Or rather, to me it seems like this DJ made this comment because they are simply unaware of these issues. Which holds true with their dancing, where they are similarly 'unaware' of other dancers in the immediate vicinity, unable to 'feel' their partners' weight changes, and have a propensity for rough leads.

In my own DJing, however, I've recently discovered that I can actually keep the floor full for the entire set, at a 100% strike rate. This usually means playing mid-tempo songs, and not taking any 'risks'. Yet one of the results of this approach is that some of the dancers (mostly that hardcore, experienced group), while they're dancing every song and enjoying themselves, really want me to play some faster songs as well.
I've been a bit tentative about doing this, as the numbers on the floor immediately drop when faster songs are played (though I have noticed that they pick up or don't drop if the song is very swingy and good quality). One thing I have learnt, as Trev has pointed out, is that it's ok to drop the numbers for a song or two. I've also found that if the floor does empty (for any reason, whether the song was fast, or you've played a dud) there are ways to fill it again - I have a few 'safety songs' which will always fill the floor. So it's ok to play fast songs, empty the floor, and then fill it again. As Trev has pointed out, playing the odd faster song will, while people stand out for a song or too, actually pump up the energy in the room. And, as Brian points out, it also gives you an opportunity to play something that group of experienced, old school faster dancers wouldn't dance to anyway, even if they weren't standing on the sidelines strugging to breathe.

Another trick that Brian has noted before, is that if you do take the tempos up really high, you can actually raise the overall tempos when you play the next song. So if you find the room is stuck at about 140bpm, playing something at 200, while it may clear the room for those 3 minutes, will actually make it possible for you to follow up with something at 160 or 180, because it feels so much slower, comparatively, people get out there and dance. So allowing you to up the general tempo of the room, and change the overall wave.

I have noticed, however, that while you can raise the tempos generally, you will have to bring them down again eventually, as people's energy and stamina wears out. I had previously been obsessed with getting tempos up and keeping there, as if 200bpm was my ultimate goal. Now I realise that it's about varying tempos over the course of the night - the wave is a wave, and not just an incline. The trick is, of course, managing these crests and troughs without dropping the energy and tempos prematurely.

So DJing is a really interesting way of putting into practice that phenomenological approach to media use in everyday spaces.

NB when we say 'bpm', we mean 'beats per minute'. The average speed of house or 'dance' music is 120bpm. The average tempo for dancing lindy in the 1930s was 180bpm. I can follow comfortably up to 180bpm, then I have to work harder. I can lead comfortably up to about 160. 20s Charleston, however, requires faster tempos - over 200 is average. Over 300 is 'fast'. We can dance to such high tempos in lindy because the music 'swings' - it doesn't feel like you're rushing, and in fact really swinging songs feel slower than they are. Which helps to keep you relaxed, as you can't dance fast if you're freaking. 20s charleston, however, is usually danced to 'dixie' or jazz from the 20s, which predates swing, and has a different timing - 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 rather than 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8.
FYI: 180bpm is more than 3 steps per second, as we actually make 10 weight changes (or steps) in the basic lindy rhythm and Swing Out (fundamental step of lindy).

"taking a cat for a walk: DJing and phenomenological media studies" was posted by dogpossum on May 5, 2006 2:48 PM in the category academia and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music and yoga