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February 26, 2010

fitness: social dancing

time: 01:00, feeling: good



"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on February 26, 2010 8:13 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

c25k: wk5, run1

distance: 3.55 km, time: 00:30, pace: 08:26, calories: 243, feeling: good, effort: 3/5

Running in the cool is much nicer. Longer running sections were far easier than I expected. Had some achey in the arch of my left foot which became a tightness in my calf. Must stretch more effectively.
Got stuck at some lights for aaaaages so didn't get as far :( Wish we weren't bounded by so many busy roads in such a small blob.
No cockatoos, just bridge views.


"c25k: wk5, run1" was posted by dogpossum on February 26, 2010 8:11 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

sugar hill history

This is a great multimedia exploration of Sugar Hill. It uses:
- maps
- music
- interviews
- images
And emphasises the role of 'place' and 'community' (both physical and cultural) in creative and artistic development. This is, of course, my obsession. I am absolutely obsessed with the idea of creative work as necessarily going on in community spaces, as a product of interpersonal interaction as well as individual motivation and inspiration.

"sugar hill history" was posted by dogpossum on February 26, 2010 10:35 AM in the category research | Comments (0)

running -> exercise -> dancing -> jazz history

There's a man upstairs in our bathroom banging and hammering and sawing. It's really loud. Bathing without a shower is difficult, but not that bad. It'll be nice when we get our shower back, though.

Meanwhile, I'm still on the c25k, and did the first run of week 5 today. It's a nine week program, so I'm over half way. This is the point, though, where most people tend to give up. I actually feel quite good. It's not as difficult as I thought, probably because it starts so gradually and then builds progressively. Today's program involved:
a 5 minute warm up walk
5 minute run
3 minute walk
5 minute run
3 minute walk
5 minute run
5 minute cool down walk

I was surprised that I could do all the running bits without having to stop, and I remember thinking as I finished the first run 'Woah, I just ran five minutes without stopping. Haven't been able to do that in years.' I still breathe really loudly (though not as loudly as I used to) and I certainly couldn't hold a conversation at the same time (which is the ideal running pace). But I didn't have to walk during any of the running bits and I felt pretty ok the whole way.
I actually quite like the sessions. Thirty minutes of exercise is a tiny amount, but it's time well spent - no dilly dallying about - and it leaves me feeling really good. I have pretty bad snots at the moment because our bathroom is being ripped to bits, but that's not affecting my running the way it used to. I have some new aches in my left foot, under the arch, but that feels like a hamstring issue, and I have very tight calves, so I always need to stretch my hamstrings. So, generally, I feel pretty good. I'm knocking on wood as I type, as I can't really believe this is going so well.
There are a few things that seem key to the usefulness of this approach to training. Firstly, the audio cues on the ipod are essential. It tells me when to start running, when to start walking, when I'm half way. Secondly, the music is really good. I choose songs that either pump me up, or warm me up (or down) gently. I might end up using spoken podcasts later, as they distract me from the exercise and make the going easier. After this, the steady progress, with a structure to the sessions that changes weekly (and more frequently as you progress) makes the sessions more interesting. And I think the most important part is having clear goals.
One of the things that's made it difficult to stick to a serious exercise program in the past is the lack of goals. Learning tranky doo is fun, but once you have that under control, it's difficult to feel motivate. One routine after another is also kind of dull. Working on dance stuff with a partner is nice, but I think that without clear goals you tend to get a bit distracted and demotivated. I guess that's why competitions are so useful.

So I really like the couch to 5k program. I'm especially happy with the fact that I can run five minutes without stopping. No pain in my feet, and I can actually breathe. It's very satisfying. To think that I'll be running half an hour without stopping soon is almost beyond the imagining.
One of the other things I like about it, is feeling my muscles toning up. I feel as though my jubbly bits are kind of being compressed and firmed up into muscle. The muscles I have underneath the jubbly are slowly being revealed. I'm fascinated by my arm muscles, which are entirely the result of cycling. I can't believe cycling gives you arm muscles. But then cycling in a hilly city is challenging - you work harder. You use your arms to control your bike, and you tend to overwork your arms if you're too tight in your shoulders and too weak in your core. But I'm also beginning to feel stronger and more stable in my core, which is fab. I'm also finding it easier to activate my lats (so important for dancing) and other individual muscle (and groups) which in turn makes it easier to reduce the energy I spend. Using the right muscles for the job means that I become more efficient in my movement - less flobbering about out of control, less overusing the wrong muscle.
So while I'm muscling up, I'm also finding that other, tighter muscle groups (my lower back, my shoulders) are loosening up. As the rest of my body steps up and starts doing its job, those places can relax and stop doing more than their fair share. It's all very interesting. I'm especially exploring the way these changes affect my dancing and other activities. I can feel myself becoming more stable. I have more energy and greater stamina.
This is also making me the most annoying student in classes on Tuesday night. Hollywood style lindy hop (as in west coast not east, centred on dancers like Dean Collins rather than the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers) is a foreign country. It's fascinatingly technical, using the same principles as the lindy I'm used to, but in different ways. It's complex, and yet when it's done right, it's very energy efficient.
I'm particularly fascinated by the swingout. This type of swingout uses much the same principles of momentum and dynamic energy, but in a very different way. The thing that makes a swingout so amazing is that the follow moves towards the lead, then turns and changes direction, moving away from him. This simple process is actually really complex, in terms of energy and momentum. It's too easy to lose all your energy and momentum when you change direction, so the challenge is keeping that energy in your bodies, and yet still changing direction.
This type of swingout involves a more thorough 'leading' of the follow, but it also seems to use a less 'natural' approach to movement... that statement could perhaps be the product of ignorance, but it seems as though the lead has to be more aware of energy and where the follow is and also where he is. I use a gendered pronoun deliberately. I'm the only female lead in the class, and I'm finding the gender stuff is quite different in this type of scene. An emphasis on vintage dressing seems to reflect a more conservative approach to gender roles. Women follow, men lead. There's also been less emphasis on improvisation within the swingout.
For me, improvisation (within the swingout and elsewhere) is the follow's opportunity to 'speak.' A decent lead doesn't 'allow' the follow time to speak, but actually incorporates these contributions into their leading. So the two really do function as a team. The more comprehensive leading seems to micromanage the follow's movement, and it's been tricky figuring out where and how I should add in my jazz steps (I follow in the second class and usually socially - I rarely lead socially these days, which I am about to change).
The classes this week did look at variations on the swingout, and this was really interesting. It also meant that I had to stop and learn the basic footwork and shape of this type of swingout properly. I'm also wondering whether I should adopt this type of swingout when leading in class. That's the sensible thing to do, but I worry that it will mean I'll lose all memory of any other swingout completely. Which is kind of bullshitty, as any swingout I have now is no doubt so riddled with personal habits and problems it's already kind of broke. Learning a new swingout will make me conscious of all these idiosyncrasies and make it possible to rebuild a stronger swingout.

At any rate, I'm thoroughly enjoying being in classes again. It's so new, it's challenging. I'm also out of practice, in terms of knowing how to learn in class, and I'm quite enjoying the way this makes everything more difficult. I am also the type of student who asks questions and really likes to get things right, so I'm annoying everyone. I still find leading makes more sense. I just have no sense of what my body is doing when I'm following. I'm really not aware of my body and muscles and so on when I'm following. I think it's because when I'm leading I not only have to understand what I'm doing, but also be aware of my follow and what's happening in their body, so understanding my own body becomes the first part of understanding momentum and how we make it work between us. What I don't understand is why I can't figure this out when I'm following.
This stuff makes it really difficult to follow in class. I can look at the moves and understand how they work, and I can also figure out how I'd lead it, but the lead I'm working with mightn't, so I have to let them figure it out. But because I can't feel the follow (because that's me), I don't really understand what's going wrong/right in our partnership at that moment. Meanwhile, I find it really difficult to stop concentrating on the lead and to start engaging with following. Part of me wonders if I should just give up on following altogether. But then the rest of me refuses to be beaten.

I still haven't found a good yoga class. Sigh.

But I have spent some lovely time in the library this week, reading some really good stuff on Frank Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke and Jack Teagarden and listening along to my music as I go. I've also been digging into the library's music collection, listening to some of their neat stuff as I read. It's all been really really interesting. These guys are interesting because they were white, very popular and also totally top notch. And there these moments where they recorded with African American musicians in the 20s and 30s and I think 'how the fuck did this happen in segregated America?' I've also come across interesting references to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a band popularly considered a crappy novelty band who claimed they invented jazz. They didn't. But while they weren't the most awesome band, they were very influential, and I keep coming across musicians and bands they worked with who were very good. This stuff is also interesting because Bix, Tram and Teagarden worked in Paul Whiteman's band. I generally think of Whiteman's stuff as a sort of wet, watered down jazz with strings and sweet arrangements. But this sort of dance music was super popular. And while I don't like it much at all, the sales of this stuff bolstered the recorded music industry generally, which in turn made it possible for artists I do to have recorded. I don't think it's actually that simple a connection, but there's definitely a complex relationship between class, race, musical aesthetics (sweet or hot?) live performances, venue ownership and management, radio broadcasting and recorded music during this period.
I don't know that much about this yet, but it's definitely caught my eye. I hope I'll have time during the semester to chase these thoughts down. Probably not. Classes start next week, and I'm going to have to do some clever catching up after BBS.

Right, that's enough of that.

"running -> exercise -> dancing -> jazz history" was posted by dogpossum on February 26, 2010 9:39 AM in the category c25k and lindy hop and other dances and music and research and yoga | Comments (0)

February 25, 2010

eh? what's that they're sayin'?

I've made a new 8track. You can listen to it here or...

(Image stoled from Shorpy, king of olden days pictures)

These are all songs that are a little odd. Songs that I have to listen to on headphones, repeating bits to be sure I heard correctly... But these are all songs that I'm loving at the moment. Some of the lyrics are funny (Fats and Teagarden singing about their love for one another), some of the melodies are funny (way down Borneo way), some of the songs feel kind of kooky (another orientalist), sometimes the language is charming and yet also kind of odd (French popswing), some are interesting versions of favourites (first you get a bottle...)... I am madly in love with Jack Teagarden again, so he dominates a little. I always love Fats, because he makes me giggle. Lil Hardin is badass. Teddy Wilson is scarygood - but a piano/vibes duet?

title - year - artist - bpm - length (you can find these songs without the albums, I think... because I'm tired of adding them in...)

Hittin' The Bottle 1930 Frank Trumbauer and his Orchestra (Andy Seacrest, Nat Natoli, Bill Rank, Chet Hazlett or Charles Strickfaden, Fud Livinginston, Matty Malneck, Roy Bargy, Eddie Lang, Min Leibrook, George Marsh, Jack Fulton) 2:59

That's What I Like About You 1931 Jack Teagarden and his Band (Charlie Teagarden, Sterling Bose, Pee Wee Russell, Joe Catalyne, Max Farley, Adrian Rollini, Fats Waller, Nappy Lamare, Artie Bernstein, Stan King) 173 3:23

Borneo 1928 Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra (Bix Beiderbecke, Charlie Margulis, Bill Rank, Frank Trumbauer, Chet Hazlett, Irving Friedman, Lennie Hayton, Eddie Lang, Min Liebrook, Hal McDonald, Scrappy Lambert, Bill Challis) 184 3:11

Oriental Swing 1938 Lillian Armstrong and her Swing Band (Ralph Muzillo, Johnny McGee, Al Philburn, Tony Zimmers, Frank Froeba, Dave Barbour, Haig Stephens, Sam Weiss) 181 2:59

Hey! Stop Kissin' My Sister 1940 Fats Waller and His Rhythm (John Hamilton, Gene Sedric, Al Casey, Cedric Wallace, Slick Jones) 191 2:48

Coucou 1940 Le Quintette du Hot Club de France (Hugo Rostaing, Django Reinhardt, Joseph Reinhardt, Francis Luca, Pierre Fouad, Josette Dayde) 153 2:42

It's Tight Like That 1929 Jimmy McPartland, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, Gil Rodin, Larry Binyon, Vic Briedis, Dick Morgan, Harry Goodman, Ray Bauduc 204 2:51

Honeysuckle Rose 1937 Teddy Wilson Quartet 168 3:13

"eh? what's that they're sayin'?" was posted by dogpossum on February 25, 2010 9:01 PM in the category 8 tracks and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

February 24, 2010

c25k: wk4, run3

distance: 4.06 km, time: 00:30, pace: 07:23, calories: 278

Good! No cockatoos, but I realised you can see the Harbour Bridge for a large part of the run. Must look up more.
Slightly flatter beginning part and a cooler day made a big difference in my stamina.


"c25k: wk4, run3" was posted by dogpossum on February 24, 2010 8:07 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

i really do

i really do

Originally uploaded by dogpossum

really and truly

"i really do" was posted by dogpossum on February 24, 2010 7:33 PM in the category | Comments (0)


Napping is nice.

"nap" was posted by dogpossum on February 24, 2010 11:16 AM in the category clicky | Comments (0)

February 23, 2010

fitness: dance classes

time: 02:00, feeling: good

Feeling surprisingly fit and well, even in the super-hot hall.


"fitness: dance classes" was posted by dogpossum on February 23, 2010 8:06 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

February 22, 2010

c25k: wk4, run2

distance: 3.57 km, time: 00:30, pace: 08:24, calories: 389, feeling: good, effort:4/5

Had trouble breathing because of allergies so I had to walk a bit at one point. :( No cockatoos to see for motivation. :(
Feel ok now, but disappointed I couldn't quite make it 100%

hot, sunny

"c25k: wk4, run2" was posted by dogpossum on February 22, 2010 8:03 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

running and walking and huffing and puffing

So I'm still on the couch to 5k plan (which I talked about here.)

Even now, I'm still surprised by the reality of exercise. Simply put, it's good for you. I know, in my brains, that it's good, but it's quite another thing to feel the goodness in your body. I'm fairly fit. Pretty healthy by your average person's standards, sort of okishly fit (but really needing to get in shape) by a lindy hopper's standards. This means that I can walk up and down stairs without puffing, I walk to and from the station or to the shop without any effort, and generally find a walk of a kilometre or two easypeasy. It also means that I can ride my bike around doing errands and small bits of commuting without any real effort, I can dance most tempos without fear, and that I have very good balance and coordination on bike or on legs. It also means that I feel that lovely endorphine rush-and-jump about ten minutes into exercise... or two songs (six minutes) into dancing.
I think of this as a basic level of fitness. Enough to stop me blowing up. But it's not really being fit - not properly 'in shape' for lindy hop. It's enough to be at that minimum level of exercise doctors recommend, but it's not enough for badassery. And I like a bit of badassery. I'm hoping that the c25k will get my fitness up high enough that I can lindy hop like a mofo, that I generally feel pretty good, and that I keep bung foot pain-free by having decent body awareness, flexibility, muscle strength and efficiency and lower weight (though this isn't really going to happen because I put on muscle like a mofo and that makes me heavier than just plain jellyblubber). A physically smaller body is nice as it gives me a greater range of movement, but a fitter body is nice not because it's smaller, but because it's muscled, and muscles mean moving without straining things or hurting myself. Also: wicked ripped.

I didn't think I'd like running. It's dull and repetitive, it's kind of harsh on the body, you go out and display your sweaty, puffing self to strangers, etc etc etc. But, surprisingly, I do like it. I like swimming laps, and that's repetitive. But c25k is structured and progressive - you have clear goals to achieve, and something to work towards. It's not as hard on my body as I'd thought. I do get a bit achey in a used-muscle way after a run (quads! argh!), but since I've started running my post-orthotic-acquisition toe-ache and foot-pain has disappeared (finally!) I've also managed to keep my bung foot under control (knock on wood), so that injury isn't troubling me (beyond a bit of normal used-muscle ache). I am noticing a bit of ache and reactive irritation because my right ankle doesn't have the range of movement I need (I can't bend it far enough because I broke it yonks ago), but this is mostly transferring to my hip and knee. This is something I do need to sort out, especially as it's also affecting my right arm and shoulder. But, generally, running has reduced my aches and pains rather than increasing them. Now I just need a good solid yoga program for restorative work and I'm rocking. I actually don't give a crap that people see me puffing and panting and kind of stumbling along the footpath. At 8am there are plenty of other puffing stumblers, thai chi oldies and, of course, cockatoos. And they're busy with their own business.

There has been a whole range of other good changes since I started running. I have:
- had insane amounts of energy. Even on - especially on - the days I run;
- felt cheery and positive rather than mildly worried and self-doubting;
- been better company (less with the worry and slump, more with the perky and confident);
- achieved more during the day (because of increased energy, less worry, greater efficiency and ability to focus, more confidence, less pain, etc);
- had less foot pain in my bung foot (huzzah!), which has led to improved mood as well;
- had more control of my muscles and better muscle tone. This means better posture, less neck/shoulder acheypain, easier breathing (less slumping!), and orsm dancing. Better muscle tone means I'm dancing with more control and energy, and also with greater 'accuracy', which is both pleasing and ego-boosting. It's also meant I don't waste as much energy when I dance, and so have greater stamina;
- been less interested in high-fat, high-sugar snacks and had a more balanced appetite generally;
- left insomnia behind. Far, far behind. I don't get to bed quite early enough, particularly on the nights before I get up earlier to run, and this is kind of wearing me down a bit. But the energy I get from running is making up for that.

These are all things I relate directly related just to taking up an interval training program which runs for 30 minutes and is done three times a week. This is in addition to my other exercise stuff (dancing, cycling, walking, etc). Just three 30 minute sessions a week. I'm not even running very far (not even 5k yet - and probably never) or very fast. Imagine what I'll be like in five weeks!

Apparently a common pattern is to be full of confidence and positivity in weeks four and five, and then just giving up. Week four has been a harder week. The running sections suddenly increased in week three, but week four has longer running sections and fewer repeats of the walk/run patterns. So I've really felt it pushing me harder in this week. I guess that's the point - the training should get steadily more challenging.

I hope I don't give up. But I do think the next couple of weeks will be challenging: I'm off to Blues Before Sunrise, a blues exchange, in Melbourne on the 5th March, and will be dancing quite a lot there until I get home on Monday. This will have me starting the week 6 runs on a Friday in Melbourne, the morning after I dance. That'll be challenging - new location, morning after strenuous exercise, first day of a new week (which is a bit hard). I've managed to make the program a bit easier for myself by accident: I start the new week on Friday and run Monday, Wednesdays and Friday. So I feel as though I'm mid-way through the week of runs when I start on Monday. Which seems easier, less intimidating than coming out of the weekend into a new block of new runs on Monday.

But I'm also worried that I'll get an exchange flu at BBS. In fact, I almost certainly will (as I usually do), and that'll mean at least 3 days sitting down. And my return to running will be delayed. Boooo. I'll also be coming back to a pretty hard core semester, the first week of hardcore lectures/readings in that week that I arrive home. Which may be complicated by an exchange flu. Double boo.
Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I wish I could say that being fitter keeps me from getting colds, but it's not the case. My allergy issues mean that I tend to get respiratory infections and snotty nose/coughy chest colds more than other people. Which is arse. But I'm pretty healthy otherwise, so it's not a big deal.

Fingers are crossed, though. Til then I'm just going to enjoy running healthy... was, though, a challenging run. The dryer weather after a wet patch means that there're lots of flowers blooming at the moment, and I've had to get onto the antihistamines. Today's run was challenging because I was so short of breath. But I'm just going to pretend it was because I was tired or a bit fatigued from fun stuff on the weekend. Wednesday's run will be easier. Even after a Tuesday night of dance classes!

One of the things I'm trying to keep in mind, is not to overdo it. It's a bit too easy to burn really hot and bright in the first few weeks of a regime when it's all new and you're feeling all enthusiastic. But it's also a bit too easy to injure something, overdo it and become a bit tired and dejected. So even though it's tempting to add in runs (I did quite want to go yesterday morning), I'm trying to keep it to three runs a week. I'm also doing dance classes on Tuesday nights, which is a new thing, and actually physically a bit challenging - for bung foot at least. And then of course there's also at least one night of social dancing per week. So that puts me at 5 sessions per week, when I used to only do about 2. All that in addition to what I think of as 'incidental' exercise - walking and cycling about the place on errands or for commuting.
I really really don't want to overdo it. I don't want to hurt my bung foot and set me back again (which is depressing and horrid). I don't want to push myself too far and get shitty with it all. I don't want to end up too tired too soon. I figure I can stick to the c25k schedule, the social dancing and the classes. We added in a 2 hour Big Apple session this week, which my body really felt, and which I should probably position more carefully in my week - leave a rest day before and after. In the case of solo jazz stuff, I'm especially wary of my foot, as jazz involves a lot of jumping and twisting and turning, and is generally much harder on my feet and body than running. I do NOT want to hurt bung foot, as recovery will involve a long rest period and no dancing for ages. And pain. And miserableness.
I'd really really like to add in a weekly yoga class, as yoga is a perfect complement to aerobic exercise. It works as resistance training, but it's also very good for improving your technique and body awareness. It makes you use your muscles properly which is important for preventing injuries. But I can't find a good class, I don't quite have the money for it, and I worry that it will push me over my fitness limits. If I wait a week or two the c25k will only get more intense. And I'm beginning to really feel as though I need the good, solid stretching and strengthening of yoga. It's also an excellent antidote to the adrenaline charged go-go-go of running and dancing.
...I think I've just convinced myself to try the Iyengar classes at the Leichardt Yoga Room. Egads. But I miss yoga. A whole lot.

Right, that's enough talk about exercise. Except perhaps to reiterate the point that exercise is good. Really.

Btw: if you're interested, you can search for me - dogpossum - on to see what I'm actually doing, exercise wise.

"running and walking and huffing and puffing" was posted by dogpossum on February 22, 2010 9:57 AM in the category c25k | Comments (0)

February 20, 2010

fitness: dance work

time: 02:00

Hot! Sore quad/hip/knee combo on bungfoot side required serious stretching afterwards. Should have taken rest day between run1 of wk4 and a dance work session.

hot, sunny

"fitness: dance work" was posted by dogpossum on February 20, 2010 5:17 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

upcoming DJing

My DJing schedule for the next little while:

Sunday 28th February: DJing @ Blues Night in Sydney (8:30-9:30)

Thursday 4th March: DJing lindy hop @ Czech Club in North Melbourne (9:30-10:30)

Friday 5th March: DJing in blues battle @ Forever Dance (BBS in Melbourne about 1/3 way through the night)

Saturday 6th March: DJing band breaks 9-12 @ Y-Dance (BBS)

Sunday 7th March: DJing 12-1:30 @ The Copacabanna (BBS late night).

Just enough to keep me busy, but actually a terribly demanding load - just little blobs of sets here and there.

"upcoming DJing" was posted by dogpossum on February 20, 2010 3:03 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

February 19, 2010

c25k: wk4, run1

distance: 3.77 km, time: 00:30, pace: 07:57, calories: 389

Wk4 is harder than wk3 and I felt it. But I did the whole thing properly. Beginning to suspect I walk faster than I run. Cool temperature though.

humid, overcast

"c25k: wk4, run1" was posted by dogpossum on February 19, 2010 5:15 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 17, 2010

c25k: wk3, run 3

distance: 3.36 km, time: 00:30, pace: 08:55 calories: 389

Feeling a bit rough after a late night dancing. Lorikeet got in my face and scared the pants off both of us. Cockatoos still rock, though. Morning running = best.
Weather was nice and cool.


"c25k: wk3, run 3" was posted by dogpossum on February 17, 2010 5:14 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 16, 2010

digital resources... mostly

This post is really just to track a range of online sources I've used today. I'm really interested in the relationship between different tools, and between online and face to face tools. I want to frame this post/discussion by pointing out that swing DJs are interested in music primarily as dancers and as DJs for dancers. So their interest in music and dance and history is almost always tied to the physical experience of dancing. And dancing is ALL about the body, no matter how intertubed you are. Dancers also tend to have quite extensive online networks, networks of friends and acquaintances which crisscross their country and the world. I just know that if Peter wasn't actually playing music as I type, he'd be chiming in with useful tweeted comments and links.

The body pwns the intertubes any day.

I read this thread on SwingDJs this morning,

which directed us to:

this story about hot jazz in a full-text issue of Life on Google books.

I replied in the thread on swingdjs, but also in a post on my own blog, here.

Reading the list and thinking about hot jazz as I wrote that post, I was reminded of things I'd read in books (!), one of which is also available in full text on google books here.

I have also found full text versions online, but I can't remember where. If you start with The Jazz Study Group @ Columbia and Jazz Studies Online you'll probably eventually find them all.

But while I was reading these things in books, I came across references to a series of photographs and films which are very popular with dances - by Gjon Mili. Mili is best known amongst dancers for his short film Jammin' the Blues which is available on youtube along with other films he made featuring jazz musicians (I link them here.)

There're some iconic photos of dancers in Life magazine in their 'Life goes to...' series. These are available in Google/Life's online collection. Gjon Mili also did some very interesting photos as part of a photo shoot for Esquire in a Jam Session series.
I've already written about magazines and jazz ad nauseum.

Meanwhile, that original Life article listed '30 good hot records'. Which made me think about canons. And discographies as canons. There are various online versions of discographies, but the good ones aren't freely available online. Boo. Hiss.
Canons and discographies made me think about following particular musicians, and all this talk about 'essential' lists of jazz musicians and songs made me think about the Great Day In Jazz photo, which has a documentary film attached, and which Rayned used to structure his Yehoodi Radio show, which you could stream online.

After I'd written that post earlier today, I was still thinking about these issues. And I remembered seeing a note attached to an Australian photo from the 20s in an online collection. I eventually found the photo on in their flickr commons (with which I am obsessed) by typing 'bands jazz sydney' into the search box, getting this list. This is the photo. I was particularly interested in the comment that black American bands were banned in Australia from the date of this photo (1928) until 1955 (when Louis Armstrong visited Australia). I wondered if it was true.

So I asked twitter. This led to a discussion between (mostly) The SwingDJ, DJRussellTurner, a discussion witnessed by all the people who followed one or all of us on Twitter.

TheSwingDJ was sceptical.

DJRussellTurner tweeted clarified the Rex Stewart thing.

DJRussellTurner suggested a distinction between 'band' and 'musicians', and then linked to an an article by Alec Morgan in the journal Scan which used the original photo and added

But, not all musical imports were welcomed by Sydney's moral guardians. Sonny Clay's renowned Jazz band, The Colored Idea, arrived here from the USA in 1928 to play the burgeoning nightclubs. After a couple of white women were found in a hotel room with the Afro-American musicians, the band was escorted back to the ship and told never to grace our shores again. While the occasional black musician was allowed in after careful scrutiny for a limited period, Afro-American bands were not permitted back until the mid 1950's when Louis Armstrong and his band pushed the colour-bar down.

I suddenly decided I needed to know more, and I certainly needed to verify this idea that 'black bands were banned in Australia' during this period. The important question here is why? Why did I want to be sure? Partly because this would indicate interesting things about:
- race and racism in Australia (White Australia Policy)
- jazz and jazz culture in Australia (jam sessions, playing with and listening to other musicians is central to the exchange and cultural transmission of creative, ideological and discursive forms. A lack of African American musicians in Australia would go some way to supporting my continuing suspicions about the whiteness of Australian jazz. And, consequently, white jazz dance.
- the music and entertainment industry in Australia.

I had a bit of a squizz in various online sources, but eventually decided I needed to look at some more newspapers from the day. These sorts of (albeit somewhat unreliable) primary sources can be helpful.

So I started simple, and followed this link from the flickr page. Not a whole lot of help right now, but it would be worth following up the original photographer.

Then I remembered someone on twitter mentioning an online tool which allowed you to search online Australian primary sources. I couldn't remember who it was who put me onto it (I still can't), so I just followed a bunch of links from likely sources.

Until I saw a name I recognised: Trove. And started searching for "Sonny Clay".

I found this newspaper article on Trove which outlined accusations about the musicians' union from the 'banned band''s representatives.

Meanwhile, TheSwingDJ confirmed our suspicions but also noted that Rex Stewart wasn't black, according to the musicians' union (I wish I had his reference for this, actually).
He also tweeted other interesting tidbits including one about 'good reputations' and 'paying' to be allowed to play.

And then there were various comments on twitter from peeps 'listening in' to our 3-way chat, including comments about the photos as resources for fashion, Trove's value for private research projects and so on. I asked for help RE Trove's browser-compatability as I wanted to edit the scanned text of the article, but couldn't log in. Various tweeps offered tips and feedback.

Then I revisited DJRussellTurner's link to the Scan article and the original flickr photo page and discovered that the author of the Scan article had a blog where she discussed this photo and issue. Her thinking about this issue led to her discussion of flappers and gender here and here.
I then checked our her blog's 'about' page and discovered she's at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at UQ where I did my BA and MA and where I still have friends working.

In one of those blog posts she notes in a caption for (a repro of that original photo from flickr):

(Members of Sonny Clay's Coloured Idea (including the singer Ivie Anderson) on deck as they pull into Sydney, 1928)

And this made me think: Ivie Anderson! Best known (in my world) as a singer with Duke Ellington's band. So I did a crappy search of my music (using the wrong date) to see if she recorded with Ellington during this period. I also scanned the photo carefully to see if I recognised her. I was, pretty much, guessing. But I was using photos of Anderson I found online to try and compare them with the women in those two original photos.
TheSwingDJ beat me to it with this link to a source many Swing DJs use quite often. That entry for Anderson includes:

Born in California, young Ivie received vocal training at her local St. Mary's Convent and later spent two years studying with Sara Ritt in Washington, DC. Returning home she found work with Curtis Mosby, Paul Howard, Sonny Clay, and briefly with Anson Weeks at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Los Angeles. She also found work in vaudeville, touring the country as a dancer and vocalist in the Fanchon and Marco revue, starring Mamie Smith, and with the Shuffle Along revue. She was featured vocalist at the Culver City Cotton Club before leaving to tour Australia in 1928 with Sonny Clay. Returning after five months down under she organized her own show and toured the U.S. In 1930 she found work with Earl Hines.It was while appearing with Hines that Ellington first heard her sing. He hired her in February 1931, and she quickly became a fixture of the orchestra's sound.

(I've bolded the important bits.)

At this point, we're still thinking about and looking up sources. Meanwhile, colleagues from the CCC at UQ have chimed in about the author of that blog, discussions about archiving this sort of research are happening, I'm listening to 1930s Ellington featuring Ivie Anderson and I'm just about to look up youtube for some clips of Anderson to see if I can check her out more thoroughly.

But first, I think I'll go dancing.


"digital resources... mostly" was posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 5:38 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music and people i know and research | Comments (0)

dancing: classes

time: 02:00, feeling: good

It was very hot in that hall.

"dancing: classes" was posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 5:12 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

The Coloured Idea Band of Sonny Clay arrives in Sydney, 1928 / Sam Hood

The Coloured Idea Band of Sonny Clay arrives in Sydney, 1928 / Sam Hood

Originally uploaded by State Library of New South Wales collection

The text accompanying this 1928 photo reads:

Note: The band entered Sydney Harbour playing their newly composed "Australian Stomp" on deck, with their dancers performing. After good reviews, the Truth newspaper organised for the band to be raided. They were found with Australian women and deported. African American bands were banned from visiting until 1954. The Library has photographs of the Louis Armstrong tour, the first Afro-American entertainer to visit after the ban was lifted, and of the Harlem Blackbirds in 1955, the first Afro-Amercian group to visit.

"The Coloured Idea Band of Sonny Clay arrives in Sydney, 1928 / Sam Hood" was posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 2:36 PM in the category | Comments (1)

magazine themed jazz prn

Magazine-themed prn from the 'Jam Session' pics in the Google/Life set Gjon Mili did for Esquire:


(NB that little group in the bottom left hand corner are from Vogue magazine.)

Mili of course made Jumpin' the Blues, and also this freekin great clip of rockstars:

"magazine themed jazz prn" was posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 11:44 AM in the category cat blogging and fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (0)

lists and canons in jazz

An interesting discussion has cropped up on SwingDJs called "30 Good Hot Records" from LIFE. This is what I'm about to post in response.

I love lists of iconic or 'good' songs/books/films/texts. I love them because though they are presented as definitive, they are always[ more effective as a provocation than a definitive answer to questions about what counts and is important enough to be listed. Discograhies work, pretty much, as definitive 'lists' or 'canons'.

I've come across a few different uses of 'hot' in articles and books from the 1930s, particularly in reference to discographies. Kenney's discussion of jazz in Chicago outlines the differences between 'jazz' or 'hot' bands and music and 'dance' bands. These differences are not only musical, but also inflected by race, class, the recording industry, live venue management and ownership, gender... and so on. I've also come across quite a few discussions in an academic (rather than populist or 'music critic') sources about the expression 'hot jazz'. The most useful sources point out that any attempt to finally define 'hot' or 'jazz' is not only difficult, but also problematic.

Krin Gabbard discusses the cultural effects of constructing canons - in which discographies play a key role - and points out that lists of 'hot' or 'important' or 'real' jazz records aren't neutral or objective lists of songs - they are highly subjective and negotiated by the author's own ideas about music and place in society generally.

Kenney (who's written some absolutely fascinating stuff about jazz music in Chicago in the 20s) discusses Brian Rust's discographies, making the point that Rust distinguishes between 'hot' and other types of jazz recordings. Friedwald talks a bit about Rust (and other discographers) in his articles. Kenney's research into the recording and live music industry in Chicago suggests that who got to record or play what types of music was actually dictated in large part by record companies' ideas about race and class and markets rather than musicians' personal inclination. That last point suggests that you could make some interesting observations about the correlation between race, class, recorded songs, 'popularity' and 'jazz' in Chicago jazz during this period. I don't know enough about it, though, so all I'll say is that you could, but you'd better have some badass sources to support your arguments. And you'd also better be prepared to accept the idea that though America had a national music industry, different state legislations and music cultures resulted in quite different local practices: it'd be tricky to generalise Chicago's story across other cities and states. Not to mention countries.

Life and other magazines' comments on and participation in music promotion in the 30s is also pretty interesting - these guys had ideological barrows to push, just as did Rust and other discographers. One of the effects of publishing this type of list (which was no doubt as hotly contested then as it is now - except by a wider audience :D) is that it does stimulate discussion and debate. And, hopefully, record and ticket sales. One thing I'd be interested in knowing is who owned Life As an example, every time I see that Great Day In Jazz photo, I think about the fact that it was a photo for Esquire magazine, and that Esquire also produced a series of live concerts, recordings... and of course, photo spreads in magazines. While GDIJ works a fabulous representation of jazz it also serves as a canon, and as such is also subjective, ideologically framed and interpreted (eg asking why are there so few women in this photo leads us to questions about gender and jazz?) Canons are fascinating things, and can be the jumping off place for all sorts of great discussions and debates. I think this is why I was so excited by Reynaud's session on Yehoodi Radio where he used the GDIJ photo as an organising structure for the music he chose. In that case, the photo became a listening guide for a radio program. I'd just rather not use them as definitive, fixed lists; I like them more as provocations, or a place from which to begin discussing (and arguing about) a topic.

If I saw a list like the one in Life today, I'd be extra-suspicious. Songs on So You Think You Can Dance, for example, are owned by the company which produces that tv show. There's been quite a lot written about the Ken Burns' Jazz series and its role in cross-promoting sales of records from catalogues owned by the same media corporation. The Ken Burns example is an especially interesting one: that series does not present an 'objective' list of important artists and songs. It is a jumping off place for a very successful marketing project surrounding back catalogues and contemporary musicians like Marsalis. George Lipsitz has written quite a bit about histories of jazz (including Burns'), and he makes this point:

...the film is a spectator's story aimed at generating a canon to be consumed. Viewers are not encouraged to make jazz music, to support contemporary jazz artists, or even to advocate jazz education. But they are urged to buy the nine-part home video version of Jazz produced and distributed by Time Warner AOL, the nearly twenty albums of recorded music on Columbia/Sony promoting the show's artists and 'greatest hits,' and the book published by Knopf as a companion to the broadcast of the television program underwritten by General Motors. Thus a film purporting to honor modernist innovation actually promotes nostalgic satisfaction. The film celebrates the centrality of African Americans to the national experience but voices no demands for either rights or recognition on behalf of contemporary African American people. The film venerates the struggles of alienated artists to rise above the formulaic patterns of commercial culture, but comes into existence and enjoys wide exposure only because it works so well to augment the commercial reach and scope of a fully integrated marketing campaign linking 'educational' public television to media conglomerates. (17)

Lipsitz is interesting because he says thinks like Why not think about jazz as a history of dance? Why not look into the lives of musicians who gave up fame and fortune in massively famous bands to work in their local communities?

Friedwald, Will. "On Discography", May 27, 2009

Gabbard, Krin. "The Jazz Canon and its consequences" Jazz Among the Discourses. Duke U Press, Durham and London 1995. 1-28.

Kenney, William Howland. "Historical Context and the Definition of Jazz: Putting More of the History in 'Jazz History'". Jazz Among the Discourses. Duke U Press, Durham and London 1995. 100-116

Lipsitz, George. "Songs of the Unsung: The Darby Hicks History of Jazz," Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O'Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004: 9-26.

References for my posts on Esquire.

"lists and canons in jazz" was posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2010 11:18 AM in the category cat blogging and djing and fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (0)

February 15, 2010

Is this a wichetty grub?

Is this a wichetty grub?

Originally uploaded by dogpossum

We found a bunch of these in our narrow (but fairly deep and wide) garden bed. It's a sort of concrete tub, a long (6m), 30cm wide, 50cm deep garden bed situation. When we moved in it was like dry, dusty concrete. So we mixed in some poo, put down a good, solid layer of paper and then mulched it up the wazoo.

Today we dug up a bit to put some plants in, and found a bunch of these fatties. They looked very healthy. On the one hand, it's good that there's life in there (and the dirt looked much, much better), but on the other: will these bastards eat the roots of our new baby plants?

"Is this a wichetty grub?" was posted by dogpossum on February 15, 2010 8:00 PM in the category | Comments (0)

c25k: wk3, run2

distance: 3.43 km, time: 00:30, pace: 08:44, calories: 389

Much easier than last week. Waiting at a traffic light eats up time, but I can't fit my route in without crossing at lights. Much cooler today, and that's nice. Humidity up the wazoo, but that doesn't really bother me any more.
I saw LOTS of cockatoos eating in the grass.

humid, rain

"c25k: wk3, run2" was posted by dogpossum on February 15, 2010 5:10 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 12, 2010

fitness: social dancing

time: 1.0, feeling: good

Only an hour dancing because i was djing. :(
Hot! Humid! Pouring rain!
Feel really good. Except for right tricep - ouch!

hot, humid

"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on February 12, 2010 5:08 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

c25k: wk3, run1

distance: 3.19 km, time: 00:30, pace: 09:24 calories: 389, feeling: o

c35k wk3run1

Feeling a bit tired today. Reckon it's hormones. No pain, but I'm buggered and have a headache. Week 3 isn't as hard as I thought.

hot, humid, sunny

"c25k: wk3, run1" was posted by dogpossum on February 12, 2010 5:06 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 10, 2010

c25k: wk3, run 1

distance: 4.24 km, time: 00:30, pace: 07:04, calories: 389

week2 run3 -

It was good not to have so much humidity.
Running after a night of hard dance classes was challenging.


"c25k: wk3, run 1" was posted by dogpossum on February 10, 2010 4:55 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

c25k: wk2, run3

distance: 4.24 km, time: 00:30, pace: 07:04, calories: 389, feeling: good

week2 run3

It was good not to have so much humidity.
Running after a night of hard dance classes was challenging.


"c25k: wk2, run3" was posted by dogpossum on February 10, 2010 4:53 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 9, 2010

twitter continues to swallow up my intertubes brain

Things are kind of rolling along here in Sydney.

It rained all last week, every single day, and that was terrible. But today it's sunny again. SUN!

This is what it was like last week (and this is WHY I couldn't go out running yesterday morning when it was raining, TWITTER):

I've started doing the couch to 5k, which is really just an interval training approach to running 5km. So far I walk/run about 4km. It makes me feel like a gun. I didn't think I'd like running this much, but the endorphines are fabulous and helping me stave off a case of the unemployed-understimulated-uninteresting-s. It also helps me keep my mood stable - no 'what am I doing with myself?' introspection and anxiety... well, a little bit. But mostly that sort of thinking is under control. I'm also delighted by the effect just a couple of weeks of the program has made to my dancing. That, as well as finally ditching the wedding-exchange cold has me feeling fit, collected and energetic on the dance floor. Yay.

In other news, I'm all signed up for a pgrad diploma in Information Management. It will cost a ridiculous amount of money, but at least this degree will get me a job. I'm especially interested in digital archiving and increasing the accessibility of public collections like the Powerhouse's, the National Archives, the State Library, etc etc etc. It's all a bit exciting. I was asked to teach some undergrad subjects when I contacted the postgrad coordinator, but I said no because a) that's too weird, and b) I want to focus on my own study and to (brace for ridiculously over-achieving ambition) do really well and kick arse. There's a complicated online enrolment process (not like in my day, when we had to line up at the office to hand in our forms in person) and a heap of screwing about to do yet, but it's all happening.

This is a fairly demanding course, so I'm not sure just how much traveling for dance I'm going to be able to do this year... not that we could afford much, what with the zillions of dollars this course will cost. But I will make do with local Sydney and Canberra stuff and a mid year trip to Melbourne and November trip to Melbourne for MLX. The latter are combined with family visits, of course. This means, sadly, that I won't be able to go to Hullabaloo, which I tend to think of as one of the Big Australian Events, both in terms of DJing and dancing. The dancing is good and the music is good at Hullabaloo, and Perth always puts on a quality event with lots of attendees. I'd also have liked to DJ at Hullabaloo (if they'd have me), but we simply can't afford $1000 in plane fares plus assorted expenses. That's a subject and a bit of my course right there.

In other news, I've been experimenting with bread baking. I'm not hugely good at it. It looks ok, but it tends not to taste too good. Sort of sweetish and overly yeasty. I'm going to try some sourdough next (as inspired by Tammi to see if that improves the flavour. A different sort of yeasty taste. But I've not had a chance to get the starter going, yet, so that's a way off. In other food thoughts, we've been eating well, but the shitty humidity has sapped our appetites. Lots of boring salads and little interest in anything else.

On the DJing front, things continue as usual. Lately Sharon has been DJing like a demon, inspired by international travel and an unfortunate laptop theft. I think the theft was actually a good thing, as she's been going through her music, re-adding CDs and transferring files from her other computer, rediscovering forgotten stuff and adding new things. It's meant that her DJing has suddenly had a burst of inspiring energy, and is absolutely great for dancing. She's a madkeen balboa dancer, and much of the music she loves dancing bal to is my perfect cup of lindy hopping tea. Yahoo.

The tempos in Sydney have also jumped up quite a bit (interstate visitors over the wedding exchange weekend last month commented on the speediness), and I have to say that this also delights me, as I really do prefer the higher tempos for dancing. By higher, of course, I mean over 160bpm. Tempos at other Sydney venues remain ridiculously low. I'm not interested in a majority of songs below 120bpm (srsly) with the odd dodgy 'faster' song for 'balboa'. Egads.
We've also got a Swiss DJ in town who's also a bal nut and a solidly swinging classic jazz fan, so nights at the Roxbury have been really, truly great dancing. For me. One thing we've noticed, though, is that the beginners have sort of dropped away a bit. In part, I think because the first half hour (8.30-9 or so) is super-fast tempoed for bal-nuts and crazyjazzlindyhopfools. By 9, things return to normal, but the tempos over all have been a bit higher.
This is great for me, and great for the scene as a whole, I think, as Sydney really needed a wider range of tempos in the classic swing vein. There's lots of superfast neo at Jump Jive and Wail, but that's not much good for lindy hop (well, for my lindy hopping taste). So we just needed some faster stuff. Right now, though, I think we could perhaps re-administer a little more at the lower end of the spectrum (120-140) just for variety's sake, and then we're laughing.

When I DJ I'm very conscious of working the wave (moving up and down the range from 130->200 and down again), and the mega-humidity and heat have made this even more important. My last few sets have seen me working a fairly predictable wave: 140-160-180-200-180-140- etc. It feels as though I'm covering the tempo bases pretty well and managing dancers' energy levels more effectively. I think in the recent past I've tended to clump at specific tempos, neglecting the wave. I've also tried hard to manage energy levels as well. Though dancers are more interested in higher tempos, now, they simply can't hack the physical demands of fast lindy hop in 90% humidity (which is where we've sat for the last two Roxbury nights) and mid 30s temperatures. It's just too draining - the humidity in particular.
I think that balboa has, once again, to be thanked for many dancers' comfort, or willingness to experiment with, faster tempos. Faster tempos simply seem less threatening when you hear them more often. And when you hear really fast tempos, 180bpm just doesn't seem too fast at all. Which is very nice. My own increasing fitness has made it much easier to deal with the humidity and to enjoy faster dancing again. Yay.

Though we have perfect growing weather now (warm, wet, sunny), we still haven't put in a proper herb garden. We are feeling its lack quite seriously, but we just haven't had time to get to the markets for plants, or to get some seeds sprouting. We must get on that ASAP, as fresh herbs are so important in our day to day cooking.

Twitter continues to swallow up my intertubes brain. It's the instant gratification that I like. I'll try to do better.

I'm sure there's more to write about, but I can't think of it. So, enough, then.

"twitter continues to swallow up my intertubes brain" was posted by dogpossum on February 9, 2010 5:28 PM in the category academia and djing and domesticity and fewd and gastropod and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

dancing: classes

time: 2.00

My bad foot was a bit achey.
It was hoooooot.


"dancing: classes" was posted by dogpossum on February 9, 2010 4:51 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

February 8, 2010

c25k: wk2, run2

distance: 3.92 km, time: 00:30, pace: 07:38, feeling: good, 389 calories

wk2 run2 -
Cooler weather made the massive humidity easier to handle.

humid, overcast, rain

"c25k: wk2, run2" was posted by dogpossum on February 8, 2010 4:48 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 4, 2010

fitness: dancing

time: 2:00, feeling: tired

Really felt better now that I've gotten rid of that cold. Danced a lot and my knee is pretty sore today as a result, but badfoot is actually ok.
It was insanely humid and hot. Again


"fitness: dancing" was posted by dogpossum on February 4, 2010 4:46 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

c25k: wk2, run1

distance: 4.21 km, time: 00:30, pace: 07:07,389 calories feeling: good
c25k wk2 -
First run of week 2, it wasn't too bad. I don't run very quickly, but i keep running. The humidity is intense, but that's not too bad. My bad foot hurt a bit, and my hip, but that might improve if I rest it.

hot, humid, overcast, rain

"c25k: wk2, run1" was posted by dogpossum on February 4, 2010 4:43 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

February 3, 2010



Originally uploaded by dogpossum

I made these! They don't suck!

"bread4" was posted by dogpossum on February 3, 2010 7:30 PM in the category | Comments (2)

February 2, 2010

c25k: wk1, run 3

distance: 3.63 km, time: 00:30, pace: 08:15, feeling: good

wk1 run 3
ok - some aches in my bad foot, but it's more the reactive pain in my hip that troubles me. It's definitely not enough to stop me using it.

humid, rain

"c25k: wk1, run 3" was posted by dogpossum on February 2, 2010 4:39 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)