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September 29, 2009

i'm not sure about natalie portman

Watching a film this afternoon I asked myself what possessed Natalie Portman to keep taking roles where her character is tortured. Is it something in her, that this torture satisfies some sort of inner masochism? Is it that she is continually cast as victim, as vulnerable by directors and casting agents who see a vulnerability in her? Who knows – I wouldn’t speak for her. But this has made me think about actresses taking on these types of roles.
There are few roles in cinema (both mainstream and otherwise) depicting women as strong and independent and free of the threat of violence or otherwise immune to vulnerability. To work, an actress simply must accept roles which present them – as the body a character occupies, as the craftswoman creating this persona – as vulnerable. Weak. Potentially victim of violence of all types. Does the actress refuse these roles, and perhaps not work? If she accepts these roles, is she complicit in this representation of women?

"i'm not sure about natalie portman" was posted by dogpossum on September 29, 2009 4:56 PM in the category ideas | Comments (0)

September 23, 2009

zora neale hurston

I keep returning to Zora Neale Hurston.

Negro dancing is a dynamic suggestion. No matter how violent it may appear to the beholder, every posture gives the impression that the dancer will do much more. For example, the performer flexes one knee sharply, assumes a ferocious face mask, thrusts the upper part of the body forward with clenched fists, elbows taut as in hard running or grasping a thrusting blade. That is all. But the spectator himself adds the picture of ferocious assault, hears the drums and finds himself keeping time with the music and tensing himself for the struggle. It is compelling insinuation. That is the very reason the spectator is held so rapt. He is participating in the performance himself – carrying out the suggestions of the performer.

The difference in the two arts is: the white dancer attempts to express fully; the Negro is restrained, but succeeds in gripping the beholder by forcing him to finish the action the performer suggests. Since no art can ever express all the variations conceivable, the Negro must be considered the greater artist, his dancing is realistic suggestion, and that is about all a great artist can do (Zora Neal Hurston)

Hurston, Zora Neale, "Characteristics of Negro Expression" The Jazz Cadence of American Culture. Ed. Robert G. O’Meally, 1998. New York: Columbia University Press, 298-310.

(I can't find the original date for this right now - will look later).

I like this discussion of performer/spectator interaction, and the necessity of spectators participating in the performance. This is call-and-response at another level.

"zora neale hurston" was posted by dogpossum on September 23, 2009 1:55 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (1)

September 22, 2009

blackfaces and performing identity. again.

EDIT: Sorry there are so many typos/bung urls, etc. I just wrote and posted this without editing, and now I can't be arsed - Zac Efron is calling.

Dancing the cakewalk was very popular just before the turn of the century and afterwards. It had evolved from slavery, when blacks mimicked the formal dances of the whites, sometimes, evidently, to the delight of the slave owners. Clearly, the blacks were doing some subtle things unseen by the whites, who doubtless were amused by these 'inferior' blacks attempting their dances. The cakewalk had resilience, however, and toward the end of the century fashionable whites were doing it. So here was a black dance parodying white dance danced by trendy whites. Finally, black dancers, responding to the new popularity of the dance, displayed it, improvised on it, and ended up dancing a black dance parodying white dance danced by whites now danced by blacks. Singing a song in black skin in blackface is part of the same structure; the black dancers are doing something else in their cakewalk, and so is the singer (Gayle Pemberton (from The Jazz Cadence of American Life, p 279))

I am endlessly fascinated by the idea of performing identity - slipping on a mask, stepping into a costume, painting on skin. I'm particularly interested in the scope for performance offered by dance and song - singing black, singing white, singing gentile, singing jew; dancing black, dancing white, dancing class, dancing gender. There's quite a bit written on it, including by me in regards to gender performance (with specific reference to swivels in a swingout, women leading and women solo dancing in a lindy-dominated scene). There's stuff written about white bands 'playing black' in recordings and on radio, and about jewish musicians playing gentile or black or... this is where it gets complicated. I think I like this idea because we are all performing identity at any time (and I always think of Judith Butler here), but we are only occasionally explicitly engaged in performing a specific identity or persona.

Imitation and impersonation in dance fascinate me (and I dedicated chunks of chapters to the issue in my PhD), in part because the line between imitation-as-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery and impersonation-as-ridicule-or-derision is so thin if there at all. Sometimes the perfect imitation intended as compliment is read as derision. Sometimes a performance gains its very value through the delicate tipping point - is this derision? Is it flattery? Are we laughing at this dancer, with them? I've taken great pleasure (and satisfaction) myself in imitating dancers who've irritated me, and then integrating that imitation into a dance so that it only reads as derision if you read on the slant. Safety in subterfuge and all.
I think that issues of power are indelibly inked in performances of identity, particularly in regards to race and class. Its particularly true of cakewalk, and disturbingly true of blackface and minstrelsy. Minstrelsy is a topic which has attracted great scholarly attention, and there is material written about black artists performing in blackface. I am interested in the way this putting-on of identity (and race and class) begins to blur and confuse when we drill down, as Pemberton's paragraph implies. I like it that we can't quite be sure of what is going on. I like this element of confusion and of deceit and of slippery meaning. It is a type of power in itself, particularly when the performer is disenfranchised by the setting, the society, the culture. It reminds me of the great pleasure of a lie well told.
The only thing better than a good story well told is a bold lie well embroidered. And not found out. I like the tension of deceit, I like the boldness of a pile of bullshit presented in conversation or public assembly. I like its creative edge, I like the way it breaks the rules and tips over our ideas of what is 'true' and what is 'good'. We all know that a story is better told with a little embellishment, and a good part of the bettering lies in the knowledge that there is some untruth here. Something made up. Something sneaky.
I think this is why I am particularly fond of the story about Marshall Stearns and cats corner. The story goes: Stearns, in the course of his research into African American dance in the 1950s, was told a series of stories about the Savoy ballroom and of ballroom culture in Harlem in the 20s and 30s. He was told that if an untried novice dared take to the floor in 'cats corner' (where all the very best dancers danced), they would be taken outside and beaten. He was also told a number of other stories of dubious veracity. Some years later ageing dancers told another version of the story, with the important aside: oh, they was having a game with Stearns; it was exaggerated, it wasn't like that.
Now, my favourite part of this whole story is that we aren't quite sure where the deceit begins. Or where the untruth leaves off. Was the original story exaggerated, a lie? Was the later amendment another lie? I also like it that the researcher (whose book Jazz Dance is the authoritative text on the subject) is the butt of the joke, whichever way it lies. He has no way of knowing what was true and what was not. His research - his data - is 'corrupted' by the subjects. The power of the researcher in-the-field is neatly undone by a few layers of maybe and perhaps-not.
This of course reminds me of a brief discussion on twitter a little while ago, where a friend asked 'does the subject have a duty to participate in research which is of benefit to the whole community' (I paraphrase here, because I've forgotten the wording). I thought immediately of this story of cats corner, and of my own wrestling with the 'power' of the researcher and the 'might' of the research. I eventually decided that to suggest that researchers have a 'right' to data, or that subjects have a 'responsibility' to participate is to enshrine the power of researcher (white, middle class, male... or otherwise empowered) and the disempowerment of the subject. And, above all, this thinking values particular types of knowledge and discourse above all others - the written word, the published page, the institutionalised speaker and voice. A large part of my thesis was spent discussing the importance of dance as public discourse for the utterly disenfranchised African slaves who had absolutely no access to public discourse. 'Meaning went underground'. Meaning became slippery and dependent upon particular knowledge and experience for its 'proper' deconstruction/construction.

I think that I like the idea of a research subject lying to a researcher. I like the way its purpose was no doubt (but then, entirely questionably) for humour's sake - for a joke, a laugh at the expense of the naive. A joke eventually to be found out, and then (hopefully) to be shared again. Because it is the finding out of the joke, of the deceit, of the lie, that makes it work. If a joke, a deceit, goes unnoticed, it isn't a lie; it's a truth. And I suppose this is where it is most powerful. And dangerous.

I came across that Pemberton quote today and was reminded of the issue. There was a brief question about blacks in blackface on twitter, and that set me thinking about it again...

Of course, I need to just add that all this is interesting when you think about jazz. Jazz is about improvisation (making stuff up) within a broader, shared structure. In the case of jazz, this shared structure is the score or melody or riff (or whatever). In terms of social interaction, it is culture and social norm. In dance, it is the partner structure (lindy hop) or the sounds of steel heels on wood (tap) or... I am most interested in jazz music and dance because improvisation - innovation, making things up, creativity - is an essential part of the formal system. Without it, we are just listening to dull old lists of rules. With improvisation (which includes impersonation and performances of other people) there is light and laughter and excitement. And interest. Lots of interest.

I talked about performance and gender here in reference to Beyonce and all the single ladies, Armstrong and performing blackness/masculinity and the power of satire and humour. More Armstrong and gender/class/ethnicity stuff here, here and here.

I wrote about hot and cool and cakewalk (and contrasting layers of meaning) here.

There's also some talk about gender and performance in dance here and here.

"blackfaces and performing identity. again." was posted by dogpossum on September 22, 2009 4:56 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

September 18, 2009

8 songs about food

8 songs with lyrics about 'eating'. And when I say 'eating', I mean 'sex'. Well, mostly. Some are actually songs about food. Probably. But not the Fats Waller ones.

There are approximately 60 squillion billion jazz and blues songs about 'food' and 'eating'. These are only 8, but 8 that I really like, or that we sign around our house, or that are just plain good.

Bessie Smith's 'Gimme a Pigfoot' is the best, because it's a song about simple culinary and social pleasures - a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. And she's not going to be payin' 25c to go in NOwhere.

"8 songs about food" was posted by dogpossum on September 18, 2009 11:03 PM in the category 8 tracks and cat blogging and djing and fewd and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (1)

September 14, 2009

8 1930s Ellington tracks that'd pwn Bechet in a ninja fight

As if Bechet and Ellington'd ever get into a ninja fight!
As if this is the final list of Ellington orsm!

8 of my favourite songs from Ellington's (small and large) 1930s bands.

1. Jungle Nights In Harlem Duke Ellington and his Orchestra 1930
2. Shout 'Em Aunt Tillie Duke Ellington and his Orchestra 1930
3. Rockin' In Rhythm The Harlem Footwarmers with Duke Ellington 1930
4. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) Duke Ellington and his Orchestra with Ivie Anderson 1932
5. Stompy Jones Duke Ellington and his Orchestra 1934
6. Digga Digga Do (M 187-2) Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters 1937
7. The Back Room Romp Rex Stewart and his 52nd Street Stompers 1937
8. Top And Bottom Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters 1939

"8 1930s Ellington tracks that'd pwn Bechet in a ninja fight" was posted by dogpossum on September 14, 2009 6:49 PM in the category 8 tracks and cat blogging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

September 10, 2009


I think I'd like to be sewing. Or going to the gallery. Or nerding it up in the library. I think the library is going to win. Again.

"tweet" was posted by dogpossum on September 10, 2009 1:13 PM in the category research | Comments (0)

instead of twitter

Looking at this complicated DJ roster, I'm wondering how I get myself into these things.

"instead of twitter" was posted by dogpossum on September 10, 2009 1:11 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (1)

instead of twitter

It's as though my life were in cartoon:
(c/o New Yorker)

"instead of twitter" was posted by dogpossum on September 10, 2009 12:42 PM in the category clicky | Comments (0)

September 6, 2009

in which we ask 'why ya buggin?!' and then learn to whom the house actually belongs

Last night I did one of the most challenging gigs I've ever done. It was for a very large event - around one thousand punters and dozens of performers, including a large band, two troupes of swing dancers, heaps of burlesque dancers and some international MC talent. My role was fairly extensive: warming the room at the beginning of the night before the burlesque performers; handling the music for an hour's worth of burlesque and lindy hop performances; DJing a (very crowded) smokey back room full of non-dancers. I was also required for a couple of hours of rehearsals in the late afternoon before the event began.

The first bit - the room warming - was the easiest. I've done this sort of thing many times before, and it went well. I played the usual high-energy, hi-fi swinging jazz, so it's not worth giving you the set list, really. There was a designated dance floor with a series of graduated standing areas overlooking the dance floor and the stage. This bit went well - swing dancers (of all stripes) getting down in the usual way. I think I did a pretty good job getting a crowd of mostly non-dancers wearing full 'gangster' getup excited. But there were delays and the main act started half an hour late. This can be challenging, especially as I was being updated every five minutes: "one more song, one more song." So I was working on a song-by-song basis, and couldn't really manage the energy in a more complex way. Crudely put, if the performance was the climax, I was keeping these guys on the brink for an uncomfortably long time. If I'd known there'd be so long a delay, I'd have let them down a bit, then worked them up again. But then, that's the way these things go sometimes, and it taught me something.

The performances were nerve wracking. Me plus a light guy carefully managing a series of complicated lighting effects and music for ten different performances, with a bunch of spruiking and MCing in between each. The bit that made this so nerve-wracking was that each performer had a different cue - some entered with their music, some had the music begin after they were in position, etc etc etc. In itself, challenging, but not freak out stuff. But the running sheet I'd been given didn't include all these cues and some of the cues had been changed. These sorts of things could have been ironed out in rehearsals, but the rehearsals weren't managed, and there was no real communication between the performers and the tech doods (including me).

Watching the lighting guy (a young fella who obviously loved what he was doing) work, I was absolutely stunned by his skills. He was working with performers who ranged from those who really didn't know what they wanted to the super-professional. The first act included a shadow screen set up, which then transitioned to standard spotlight/varying light scheme set up. And he managed it marvelously. Though he turned to me with a 'omfg, that was tense' expression at the end. I was really impressed by the way this bloke synchronised the lighting, the music and the performance. He was literally moving along with the music and performer, the way he worked the lighting clearly an extension of what he felt in the music. As you might imagine, the performers' ability to articulate their creative intentions was absolutely pivotal here. But he was the type of young bloke who worked well with women, and also had really good people skills.

At this point, I have to say: I'm not keen on burlesque. Sure, some of those women (and there were all, but one, women) had some mad choreographic skills, some kickass technical movement/technique skills, but not all of them. And, ultimately, this was about revealing and displaying and exhibiting the female body for titillation. Only a couple really had control over the audience, really working the responses and manipulating them effectively. Only one really used more than one layer of meaning in their performance.
Having seen these women backstage in their pre-show jitters, then rehearsing, then finally performing, I was able to see a little more than the final 'product', and this gave me a bit of critical distance. While most of the acts really didn't have that sensual/provocative/erotic edge that makes you forget what you're doing and _respond_, having the distance of the tech booth/rehearsal process allowed me to step back and technically assess what I saw rather than to respond. I know there are arguments for burlesque as women reclaiming sensual performance or using bodies and femininity for control, and I am also very much aware of the fact that there is also a vast range of types of burlesque, but, ultimately, there is some seriously gendered shit going on here. And these are women's bodies displayed for an erotic gaze which is, essentially, male (for all the reasons Laura Mulvey described). And I'm not comfortable with this.
I am, however, far more comfortable with some of the blues dance and multi-layered performances of the jazz dance vernacular. There, humour is an essential defuser and complicator of the erotic frisson. The power dynamic is far more complex, and far more interestingly negotiated. I guess I'm also more used to women in lindy hop and charleston, where their bodies are displayed, but in acts of athleticism and strength, in partnership with men (who's bodies are equally on display). The historical context and content of these dances is also more complicated; while you might make an argument for burlesque today as decontextualised and potentially more liberatory or transgressive, its roots are -absolutely - in the objectification and commodification of the sexualised female body. And burlesque cannot, ultimately, easily escape this. At this point, I have to just signpost, briefly, the queer eye. Or rather, the awesomeness of badass dykes at this event, and their responses to the burlesque costuming and performance. 1) It was different; 2) It was less problematic. I also have to say: the women in the audience knew how to cheer the boy burlesque performer, but the response to the women performers was more subdued. I think it's the humour that makes the difference: it releases the tension of the eroticism.

From the performances, I was to have a 30 minute break, but this didn't happen. I just ran for a toilet break, then it was off to the back room, where I was down to do an hour of DJing for a crowd of drinkers, 'casino' players and dancers. The DJ in there had the room in a frenzy. It was amazing. Within a song, I was mad keen to dance - I wanted to forget DJing completely and just dance like a fool. I wanted to jump into that crowd and go nuts. But the DJ had another gig to go to, and I was supposed to take on. But it was a real challenge. He was playing a range of 50s-70s soul/funk/early RnB, etc. All amazing stuff - nothing ordinary or really familiar. Etta James tracks I'd never heard. Freeking awesome original versions of songs I only knew in white-ified jump blues-made-into-rock-n-roll incarnations. In other words, fucking great music, but a difficult place to begin when you're billed as a 'swing' DJ.

I have tried moving from this stuff to jazz before, and it's really, really difficult. The flattened out tempos of swing - the swing - often feels too 'smooth' and laid back for the dancers after the jagged, up-and-down energy of kicking rock and roll. The melodies can also be too complex.
So I began with a bit of Etta James, then some Aretha Franklin. Sell out stuff - nothing new or unfamiliar. I had no idea where to go from there. So I tried my usual transition-to-swing stuff (a bit of funkified 50s/60s high energy groove). I felt the energy drop immediately. Then I went to the swing. Man, that floor emptied. Five songs later, I was desperate. I'd been asked specifically to play swing. But even neo swing wasn't going to work here. The good, solid chunking lindy hopping favourites weren't working. There were very few lindy hoppers in the room, but there wasn't room on the floor for them to dance. And when they did dance, the other non-dancing punters would clear a spontaneous circle around them, which wasn't what I wanted - I wanted 100% crowded-floor dancing action. And then I thought, 'hells, what's the jazz version of badass, kicking 50s/60s/70s RnB/funkity/soul rock-n-roll?'

It seems charleston is the best dance after all.

For the next hour I played nothing but hi-fi 20s-style hot jazz. Stuff that makes me want to charleston til I wish I'd worn two bras instead of one. Because that shit was the badassery of the prohibition era. The room was full of chicks in fringed dresses and blokes in suits and fedoras. And smoke. And there were blackjack tables and beer on the floor. It was a fairly skanky place, with a raised level where punters could sit and drink and watch. At one point the room was packed with chicks making up charleston, blokes who looked like they'd been reading The Sartorialist fancifying their footwork and badass dykes in awesome suits trying to pass me their number. It was the funnest of fun gigs ever.
I came in with Zonky, because I figured most people would know the 'Inspector Gadget' riff. And because the New Orleans Jazz Vipers do that sort of punk-street-jazz thing so well. It was a bit long, but it had the sort of chunky 1-2, 1-2 rhythm that makes me want to fling my arms in the air like I just don't care. People really, really liked it. It's 200bpm, which is twice as fast as your average pop song.
By this stage I'd realised that the sound set up was flawed. After the wonderfulness of the main room, I realised why the preceding DJ had pointed out the dodgy gain/master relationship. Information I passed onto the following DJ, who struggled even more than I did. This made me decide that I was only going to play hi-fi repro stuff. After the difficult earlier songs, I wasn't brave enough to try the lo-fi. But I didn't mind - I've been buying lots of repro stuff lately, and I wanted to see how it would go down. Vince Giordano, master of repro hot jazz, was the perfect option.

Shake That Thing made people shake their things. As Skeets Tolbert said, "stuff's out, stuff that's never been out before". A room full of women in corsets and stockings amounted to a room full of boob-outage. It was awe-inspiring. There was a gang of dykes in a combination of formidable bosom/corset, suit/moustache costume who really dug the 20s thing and were actually very nice to me, cheering me on (which I needed in the early stages). There was a guy who had a Tesla moustache, an ivory-topped cane and bowler hat who was a whisker away from perfect cake walking awesomeness. There was plenty of high-action prancing and elaborate posing in the crowd, and it was just fabulous. At the beginning of that song a bunch of lindy hoppers burst into the room and charlestoned their stuff out. It was a definite high point in my DJing career: a room of mixed punters in hardcore 20s costume dancing like crazy maniacs to the hottest music I know.
Then I figured I'd ease off a bit, energy wise, and play some Midnight Serenaders, a band I figured would absolutely fit in with this crowd. Same sparse, 1-2 rhythm, spankin' trumpet solos, hot jazz action.
I wanted to go a little quirky here, and to break the 'no cheese' rule, so I played some Janet Klein, because I like the way the words of I ain't that kind of a baby contrasted with You Got To give me some. It's cutesy, but in a modern way; heavy on the retro, but with a punky aesthetic. And because I was talking dirty, I had to go with some Asylum Street Spankers and the ubiquitous Shave em Dry. It was a pretty dirty, dirtier than the crowd were expecting, I think. But some in the room knew the band, and the live recording adds energy to the room. The stomping beat is infectious and the mood is generally heaps of fun.
By then I'd been sitting a little lower on the tempos, and I wanted to kick the energy back up again, to capitalise on the boost Shave em Dry always gives. This version of Digadigadoo is absolutely rocking. It's super fast, and super fun. I've DJed it for dancers a few times before, and even though it's really long, it keeps them dancing like nuts. It worked a treat with these guys too. but they were absolutely shagged by the end. So Minor Drag for a rest. More NOJV. Yes, I played a lot of them. But that's because they rock. I wanted to do some Loose Marbles, but I didn't know their action well enough to risk it on such a chancy crowd. MD was a bit too long, and a bit too minor key to really work. So I went with If You're a Viper to use the drug references as a cheap win. But it wasn't so successful. Note to self: if you think a song tries a little too hard and doesn't quite win you over, it won't work on a crowd of non-dancers either.
I like this version of Stevedore Stomp (Duke Heitger). I wanted to see if a slightly swingier edge would work with this crowd. It went down well, but apparently they don't hold no truck with that new-fangled rhythm. They were really quite tired by then, though, so I dropped it down with another punt - the MS's version of Handyman. Which people liked, but I didn't like all that on-dance-floor snogging and sexing up. So I chunked it back up with some more Giordano. And teh orsm. By this stage the next DJ was ready to go, so I played one more to give him time to plug in properly, and then I was off. And went straight to the bar where a nice barman refilled my 2L water bottle, goddess bless him.

Yes, I did play two versions of Shake That Thing. I've done that a couple of times lately. Because I am, basically, lazy. And a bad DJ. But it's a really good song, and I like the two different treatments. I was looking for a version of Charleston or Charleston is the best dance after all, but I was, frankly, too fucking tired after six hours of DJing, to find it.

So, overall, it was a really fun set. Started really badly, was heartbreaking to bust that preceding DJ's fucking awesome vibe, but finished well. If only lindy hoppers would hack a set that fast. Guess it takes a bunch of alcohol, pin-striped suits and masses of magnificent bosom to bring out our inner badassery, I guess.

This is the (mini) set:

Zonky New Orleans Jazz Vipers 203 2006 Hope You're Comin' Back 5:06
Shake That Thing Vince Giordano 230 2004 The Aviator 2:59
You Got to Give Me Some Midnight Serenaders 190 2007 Magnolia 4:02
I Ain’t That Kind of a Baby Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys 159 2008 Ready For You 2:59
Shave 'em Dry Asylum Street Spankers 131 1997 Nasty Novelties 4:21
Digadoo Firecracker Jazz Band 247 2005 The Firecracker Jazz Band 5:20
Blue Drag New Orleans Jazz Vipers 181 2002 The New Orleans Jazz Vipers 4:23
If You're A Viper New Orleans Jazz Vipers 156 2004 Live On Frenchmen Street 3:57
Stevedore Stomp Duke Heitger And His Swing Band 239 2000 Rhythm Is Our Business 4:18
My Handyman Midnight Serenaders 95 2007 Magnolia 5:11
Quality Shout Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks Orchestra 232 1993 Quality Shout 3:03
Shake That Thing Mora's Modern Rhythmists 227 2006 Devil's Serenade 2:58

If I'd had any idea I'd be playing this stuff, I'd have spent more time on it than I did on the neo. But I had no clue. If I could do it over, I'd come in loud and proud with some skankin' charleston. I'd stick to the hot stuff, lay off the swing and keep the tempos high. I'd use the same sort of stuff. In a perfect world, I'd use the original recordings as well as newer stuff. But the newer guys, the guys who're into the hot jazz - the punker-street-jazz guys - really encapsulated the energy of that event. The neo swing world has more in common with punk than swing jazz, and hot 20s jazz really has more in common with punk than swing, attitude-wise. It's just built for showing off, and doesn't have the shmaltzy edge some swing can have.

It was a long, hard night, I didn't do quite as well as I would have liked sometimes, I worked really hard in challenging conditions, and I realised my DJing skills were quite specific: I can work a room full of people who know how to dance. But I'm challenged by a room of non-dancing drinkers, especially as my music is so unfamiliar. Non-swing dancers are challenged by the swing, I think. Another small, but very important thing I learnt: lindy hoppers like space between the songs to stop and talk and change partners - at least 5 seconds. Non dancers don't know what to do with the gap. Though I ended up getting applause at the end of songs they liked, which was weird, but I guess that's what you do with some dead air when you like something.

"in which we ask 'why ya buggin?!' and then learn to whom the house actually belongs" was posted by dogpossum on September 6, 2009 5:18 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (3)

September 3, 2009

Leo Mathisen, Duke Heitger, etc etc etc

What? There's a Leo Mathisen CD I don't own?!

Leo Mathisen: 1938-40 Leo’s Idea from Little Beat Records is the one Mathisen CD from this (very awesome) label that I don't own. And I WANT it!

But I also want more Duke Heitger. I have a copy of Rhythm Is Our Business from emusic, and the more I play it, the more I like it. Some of these recreationist doods can really suck, but re-listening has convinced me that there's something good going on here. But one album just isn't enough.

I also want:

Prince of Wails. The title track is a fave, and I'm keen to hear how this small group recreates teh orsm of Moten's group... in fact, I'm back to loving Moten in a big way.

Krazy Kapers as it looks a little more swingy and hence a little more all-purpose.

What is This Thing Called Love because the track listing is freeking A1.

I've had nothing but fabulous experiences with Jazz By Mail - super-fast postage times (though I've had a couple of CD covers get a little crushed in their light-weight cardboard boxes - nothing major, though), reasonable prices. And I'm especially keen on their Stomp Off Records stuff - an indy label chock full of top notch hawt jazz artists.

"Leo Mathisen, Duke Heitger, etc etc etc" was posted by dogpossum on September 3, 2009 12:13 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music and objects of desire | Comments (0)