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June 30, 2010

Baz and mandarin peel

I am trying to improve my drawing, so have been taking requests and illustrating friends' tweets. This is Basil (friends' companion who usually lives over at Sorrow at Sills Bend) with mandarin peel.

It is winter, here, and mandarins are in season in a major way. I ate so many at MSF I gave myself a rash. My favourites are Honey Murcotts, but they're harder to find than the ubiquitous, people's favourite Imperial. The Murcott has a stronger, more orangey flavour and scent and isn't as loose in its skin as the Imperial.

Basil is an internet rockstar.

"Baz and mandarin peel" was posted by dogpossum on June 30, 2010 9:04 PM in the category crafty bastard and scribbling | Comments (2)

June 29, 2010

fitness: c25k w1r1

km tracked: 3.51, duration: 00:30, pace: 08:32, calories: 389, effort: 1/5, feeling: great

Did the first c25k run this morning because I _really_ wanted to get out and do some running but couldn't trust myself not to overdo it. It was frustrating to have to stop running during the intervals, but the gentler program was a very good idea.
Now have about sixty million exercises and stretches to do post-running, so that takes me _longer_ than the actual runs.
It was very nice to get out again, and my knees feel ok atm. We'll see how they feel tomorrow, though.
I think I'll keep going with c25k from the beginning 3 days a week, but alternate it with some cycling and yoga to get a proper amount of exercise. If my joints can hack it. Will take it easy for now, though, until the podiatrist's exercises get me full of strongs.

"fitness: c25k w1r1" was posted by dogpossum on June 29, 2010 9:16 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running and walking | Comments (0)

balboa DJing

So this past weekend we had the Sydney Balboa Weekend, and my recent flush of dance-love (as prompted by MSF) helped me decide that I might like to do workshops. I've very glad I did. I've done some balboa DJing in the past, but not a whole lot, and I'm not hugely confident about it. The problem, really, is that I don't dance the dance, so I can't read the crowd terribly well, and I can't translate musical figures to dancing figures - I'm not entirely sure what will work and what won't.

Nick and Laura are top notch teachers, and their classes were lovely. Most of the stuff I knew about balboa was wrong, and most of the classes I've ... hellz, every clas I've had in bal before has been wrong. It was a delight to learn that balboa is just like lindy hop, technically speaking, just with a higher 'embrace' in closed position, and a smaller frame.

In other words, you don't get down low to the floor (the way you do in lindy), but you do keep nice posture, strengthen up your core (ie all the muscles and stuff in your abdomen, but also into your hips and the tops of your legs and in your arse), relax your shoulders and bounce. That last bit made me so very happy. Bounce is what makes it possible to keep time, to follow, and for leads to release their shoulders and relax. Dancing without bounce is really hard. Much harder than with bounce, because you have to restrict the natural movement of your body. We were also instructed not to stand on tippy toes (as follows), which is another bullshitty bit of teaching I'd had trouble with in the past. It was nice to ease off and relax down into my gutses so I could follow properly.

I had a jolly time.

It's not lindy hop, though, and that's sad. But it is nice. In a tightywhitey way. I definitely feel as though I have a much better idea of how balboa works in regards to music, and I'm definitely relieved to discover that most of the things I'd been taught in the past were wrong. Balboa really is a swing dance, in that you do it to swing music, and it has a lovely swinging timing with lots of syncopation and lovely playing with timing and delay. There the things that make swing dances swing, to me - the swinging timing. Bounce is absolutely central to that, so I say No Thankyou to dances without them. Except tango. Actually, the workshops really felt like a workshop in tango - fascinating, fun, but actually not my proper cup of tea.

I think, mostly, I just like the energy, the frenetic in-your-faceness of lindy, and the chance for visual play and jokes. Bal is a bit straighter. It's not uptight (well, not all the time), jokes do work, but the closed position means that there's less scope for badass in your face jokes. It is fun to experiment with the limits of the embrace (which is what tango doods call closed position), so far as mucking about goes. But I'm not actually good enough at the dance to really experiment properly. I mostly just concentrate on following.

Anyways, I did some DJing. Below is my first set. It was bad. Bad. Bad. Because:

  • I had technical problems and freaked out a bit
  • I had no idea what normal tempos were for bal
  • I had to lean on the hi-fi stuff at first because the sound system couldn't hack the scratchies. Which sucked, as I hadn't planned any hi-fi stuff, and had to scramble to reassess this part of my collection for 'balboa-ableness'.
  • I leaned too heavily on the faster tempos. Because I feel ok following at 200bpm. And I don't actually lead (very much beyond the basic steps) balboa, I had no clue about leading bal at higher tempos. In retrospect, a lot of the bad habits people had (relying very heavily on triples rather than a range of half time or other steps; being too stiff and upright; not bouncing) make it really hard to dance fast balboa (or anything really).
  • I played too many small groups, and songs which were a bit samey, stylistically
  • I didn't know what 'favourites' worked with bal doods - I had no 'safety' songs... besides 'Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen', 'Minor Swing' and a couple of others. So when I fucked up, I had no safety song to rebuild the floor with. ARGH.
  • I couldn't read the crowd. Bal is quite contained, so I found it harder to read the dancers' emotions. I was also too panicky to even attempt reading them. Bal is also low-impact, so dancers don't get physically exhausted the way lindy hoppers do. So you can dance every single song. This makes it harder to figure out how to build energy, and then to discover the point of 'climax' where you kick arses and then start building again.

First Set (Friday 25th June 2010), actually playing the second set of the night.
title artist bpm year length last played

Swingin' On That Famous Door Delta four (Roy Eldridge, Joe Marsala, Carmen Mastren, Sid Weiss) All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 2) 190 1935 3:00 27/06/10 11:55 AM
Scram! Echoes of Swing Harlem Joys 193 2008 3:21 4/03/10 1:17 PM
Harlem Joys Echoes of Swing Harlem Joys 230 2008 3:37 25/06/10 9:25 PM
Seven Come Eleven Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five Jammin' the Blues 227 2003 2:53 25/06/10 9:28 PM
Squatty Roo Frank Ropberscheuten/ Dan Barett A Portrait Of Duke 203 2001 3:22 25/06/10 9:32 PM
Minor Swing Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five Jammin' the Blues 202 2003 3:24 25/06/10 9:35 PM
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea Dicky Wells, Django Reinhardt, Bill Coleman, Bill Dillard, Shad Collins, Dick Fullbright, Bill Beason 40 Titres d'anthologie (disc 1) 190 1937 2:55 25/06/10 9:38 PM
Madame Dynamite Eddie Condon and his Orchestra (Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Condon, Sidney Catlett) Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 2) 176 1933 2:56 25/06/10 9:41 PM
Royal Garden Blues Wingy Manone Complete Jazz Series 1934 - 1935 215 1934 2:49 25/06/10 9:44 PM
Everybody Rock Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra Live At The Savoy - 1939-40 187 1939 3:19 25/06/10 9:47 PM
Let's Get Together Chick Webb and his Orchestra Stomping At The Savoy (disc 1): Don't Be That Way 209 1934 3:05 25/06/10 9:50 PM
Algiers Stomp Mills Blue Rhythm Band (Lucky Millinder, Henry 'Red' Allen, J.C. Higgenbotham, George Washington, Edgar Hayes) Mills Blue Rhythm Band: Harlem Heat 219 1936 3:08 25/06/10 9:53 PM
Chimes At The Meeting Willie Bryant and his Orchestra (Teddy Wilson, Cozy Cole) Willie Bryant 1935-1936 245 1935 3:01 25/06/10 9:56 PM
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, Part 1 [alt take] Benny Goodman Quartet (Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Martha Tilton) RCA Victor Small Group Recordings (Disc 2) 195 1937 3:23 25/06/10 10:00 PM
Diga Diga Doo Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 1 (Disc 1) 227 1937 2:52 25/06/10 10:03 PM
You Got to Give Me Some Midnight Serenaders Magnolia 187 2007 4:02 26/06/10 5:43 PM

This is the second set I did, on the second night, doing some warm up for the band, and then the band breaks.

title artist album bpm year length

Charlie the Chulo - Take 1 Duke Ellington The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 10) 225 1940 3:04
Texas Chatter Harry James Life Goes To A Party 178 2:54
A Mug Of Ale Joe Venuti's Blue Four All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 3) 220 1927 3:07
I'se A Muggin' Le Quintette du Hot Club de France (St├ęphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Joseph Reinhardt, Pierre Ferret, Lucien Simoens, Freddy Taylor) The Complete Django Reinhardt And Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France Swing/HMV Sessions 1936-1948 (disc 1) 176 1936 3:08
Don't Tetch It! Una Mae Carlisle with Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Russell Procope, Billy Kyle, John Kirby, O'Neil Spencer Una Mae Carlisle: Complete Jazz Series 1941 - 1944 191 1942 2:21
My Window Faces The South Fats Waller and his Rhythm (Paul Campbell, Caughey Roberts, Ceele Burke, Al Morgan, Lee Young) The Middle Years - Part 1 (1936-1938) (disc 3) 215 1937 3:14
You'll Wind Up On Top Bus Moten and his Men Kansas City - Jumping The Blues From 6 To 6 182 1949 2:47
Stomp It Off Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford 190 1934 3:09
Joe Louis Stomp Bill Coleman, Edgar Currance, Jean Ferrier, Oscar Aleman, Eugene d'Hellemes, Hurley Diemer Bill Coleman In Paris 1936-1938 213 1936 3:14
Blue Drag New Orleans Jazz Vipers The New Orleans Jazz Vipers 181 2002 4:23
I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby Midnight Serenaders Sweet Nothin's 206 2009 3:32
Swingin' On That Famous Door Delta four (Roy Eldridge, Joe Marsala, Carmen Mastren, Sid Weiss) All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 2) 190 1935 3:00
Whoa Babe Bob Wills legends of country music cd2 214 2:36
St. Louis Blues Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra Ella Fitzgerald In The Groove 183 1939 4:46
Seven Come Eleven Benny Goodman Sextet (Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Christian, Artie Bernstein, Nick Fatool, Lionel Hampton) Charlie Christian: The Genius of The Electric Guitar (disc 1) 234 1939 2:47
Rag Mop Bob Crosby and the Bobcats Bob Crosby and the Bobcats: The Complete Standard Transcript 164 1950 2:15
We the People Catherine Russell Inside This Heart of Mine 200 2010 2:52
Putting On The Ritz The Cangelosi Cards Clinton Street Recordings, I 195 3:38

I played 'Charlie the Chulo' because I love it. I walked away while it was playing to check the sound in the room, and while I was gone the band (who'd just done their sound checks) turned it off because they didn't like the hissing. I had a discussion with the trumpeter about remastering that he had a lot more invested in than I did. I just have a higher scratch threshold I think. At any rate, he preferred the Harry James. That particular period of Ellington is a bit shit, quality-wise. I have a few different versions of those years' songs, and they're all pretty shitty and hissy. Oh well.

'Texas Chatter' is on my 'should play lindy hop' list, and it went down nicely with the (super tiny) crowd. 'A Mug of Ale' is another of my favourites. There really wasn't anyone there (beyond people setting up), so I could experiment. I like this song, but the smaller group is a bit difficult for building energy. 'I'se A Muggin' was popular, and we had a real crowd happening then.

I was really playing mellower stuff to sort of warm the room. I wanted to avoid the mega tempos, and I put a lot more work into the wave. Which (unsurprisingly) gave me better results than just randomly throwing 240bpm songs at the dancers. Duh.

'Don't Tetch It' is a really nice song, and I want to play it for lindy hoppers, but it's a bit fast and also a bit complex. But it was a nice song for bal. Nice chunky beat, but also a nice swinging lyric. I was surprised by the success of the Fats Waller, but I'd deliberately chosen some Fats with a different sound. A bit of steel guitar. A different, chunking rhythm, a stronger trumpet solo, less mucking about on the vocals. This is a good song because it builds up.

'You'll wind up on top' was a real punt. I wanted to see how that style went with balboa kids - late 40s, more shuffley rhythm. People liked it (someone came to tell me so), and the floor was full. It's a fun, energetic song, but I wasn't entirely sure this was what I should be doing with balboa. It felt a bit like the moments in my lindy sets when I play Louis Jordan and other Kansas guys who lead into jump blues.

So I went to a song I knew would work, because I've seen it work before for bal kids. 'Stomp it off' has a big band sound, it's a familiar artist with a familiar set of instrumentation, but it's lighter and tinklier, less in-your-face than a lot of Lunceford. The tempo was perfect for balboa, and it really worked as a nice, welcome-to-the-dance song.

'Joe Louis Stomp' was a bit of a punt, and kind of a strange way of referencing both Django (and his Hot Club doods), as well as the smaller hot combos. Bill Coleman recorded this in France, and he was in Fats' recordings as well. This is a good song, not one I've played before (many of these were first-timers for me - hence some of my panic). I know them well from home, but I've not played them for dancers. But this Coleman song worked well. It has a good, swinging style (nice trumpet!), it chunks along, it feels like a slightly larger band (even though there are only six of them), but it also has a sort of French/Django type feel. Something about the timing? I dunno.

The point of that Django referencing was to take advantage of the popularity of Django with bal dancers who'd been to ABW this year and were in attendance. The ABW comp DJ had given a talk about Django (which you can read about on his blog in this post) and the kids were digging him.

Anyways, then the band came on. Who weren't rocking it. They played a set that would work for lindy, but not for bal. Some rock n roll cross overs. And tempos that were far too slow. Faaar too slow. They cleared the floor a few times, which is difficult to do as a live band.

When I came on in the next break, I figured my job was to rebuild the room for the band.That meant

  • getting people feeling good again,
  • getting them back on the floor,
  • playing easy songs which people would like,
  • and demonstrating the tempos and style that might work for the band.

So I started with 'Blue Drag' which is popular with bal dancers someone told me during the break. I played a hi-fi version to complement the band (who had a male vocalist like the Vipers). It's in a minor key, which kind of complement the band's last superslow song, and also kind of made a joke of the way the floor was utterly dead and people were feeling a bit unhappy. The song builds, though, quite slowly, so people had time to decide they wanted to dance after all, to get a partner, to get on the floor, and then to actually dance. By the last minute, when it starts to get a little more energetic, the dancers were feeling cheerier, and it was working out ok.

'I'm Crazy 'bout my baby' is a very familiar jazz standard. The Midnight Serenaders had gone down very well the night before. They're fun, they're a small combo who sound a little New Orleansy (though they aren't), and they're fun. This song had male vocals as well. I figured the cheery sound would capitalise on the dancers' renewed interest, and that I could use this song to make them feel even better. Because it's a lovely song. The trumpeter is quite excellent, and his work with the clarinet really make you feel good - it's good music. That all worked as I'd hoped, so by the end of the song the floor was full and I figured it was time to get a bit more serious.

'Swinging on that famous Door' was a punt because I'd played it the night before, but the sound quality had been so bad the night before it hadn't really worked out. So I used it the second time to build the energy, to use the 'familiar' card, and to transition to old school rather than hi-fi. That comb is really bloody good - more big band names (Eldridge), but also a sound that echoed my earlier work (with Joe Marsala who did all that work in Chicago with guys like Condon, Mound City Blue Blower doods, etc). I tossed up between the hi-fi Duke Heitger version and this older one, but I followed the usual rule: if either old or hi-fi will work, go with old, because it's better. They were better musicians. And they were.

By the end I had them really cooking. They were digging it. So I took the tempos up. Not the biggest band in the world, and a departure to western swing. But this song rocks. The Lionel Hampton version is popular with lindy hop, I play the Leo Mathisen one a bit, and I know it rocks. I'd actually just been put onto this song by Keith at MSF in Melbourne, who used it for his team's performance. So it was a sneaky job on my part. But it's a great song. And it went off.

I then thought I'd really start to kick their arses. And here is where my inexperience with balboa kids hit me. 'St Louis Blues' is perfect: big band, live recording, at the Savoy, best band. But it's only 180bpm. This longer, high energy song has been a go-to for my lindy DJing if I've wanted to kick their arses. But even lindy hoppers are happier with higher tempos these days. Balboa kids loved it, but it just wasn't fast enough. I had hesitated, wondering if I should have played a faster track from that same band/recording session, but I played it safe instead. It didn't fail, it went well, but I could have made it awesome by taking it up a little.

'Seven Come Eleven' was my taking it up a little song. I love this. It is another small group (can you see how I'm really favouring small groups, when I shouldn't have? That's more evidence of my inexperience), but it fucking COOKS. It's faster, it's energetic, but it's also complicated. The sort of stuff that balboa kids can do really really well - where lindy hop doesn't really work quite as well. That's where I learnt something about balboa: those guys can hack any tempo, so they need some other challenge. A complicated arrangement, a challenging set of improvisations within a tight composition, some interesting breaks... that's what they like. With energy and possibly high tempos. It was successful.

So then I dropped it down with another of my overplayed lindy hop favourites. But where I'd use 'Rag Mop' to build energy towards a climax for lindy, I used it to cool them down a bit from a faster, crazier song, but still kept the energy. I also shifted from a smaller sound to the bigger sound of this recording. It's a later recording, but the style is kind of New Orleans revival, so it works. It did the job.

Then the band came on with the perfect transition song. I think they're pretty clued in, and figured out what was working for this crowd, and could adapt to suit them. The tempos went up, and they played faster, brighter, less shuffley stuff after that.
I felt bad about doing a better job than they did in their set - I don't like to show off when a band is on - but we really needed a change. I need to think about this more.

I played just two more songs after that before a jack and jill. Catherine Russell is still very popular with lindy hoppers (that song 'Just because you can' is anyway), so I figured I'd play this fun little song. It's kind of in the same vein as everything else I'd played. Another fucking small band. But it worked. People dug it.
I played 'Putting on the Ritz' for Kira who was standing next to me, and because it feels like the balboa I'd like to do. Sort of hoity toity, but tongue in cheek. Hot. Fun. Another fucking small fucking band.

All this made me realise just how many small bands I play. I think it's because I like a lot of new bands, most of whom can't afford lots of musicians (for the same reason they couldn't in the late 40s in the US in the post-war period). I also like the New Orleans sound, which didn't often feature more than about 8 players, mostly because they used a lot of organised improvisation, and when you get to 8 musicians, you've kind of reached the limit of group playing without tighter arrangements. I think I'm going to focus more on bigger bands from now on. Nothing gives you that wall of sound experience like the big band, with a bunch of brass honking in concert over a chunky, badass engine of a rhythm section.

Anyways, it was all fun. I felt much better about this second set than I did about the first. Phew. But I have a long way to go. The best thing I could have done for my bal DJing was actually do some bal workshops. Duh.

Things I learnt:

I discovered (mostly after doing classes the next day, and after listening to the in-class music, which was just what I'd think of as 'good lindy hopping action'):

  • that 'Swingin on that Famous Door' (a song I've long loved and used for lindy) is a winner for balboa dancers. So is 'Algier's Stomp'. And 'Diga Diga Doo'. As wel as 'Minor Swing', 'Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen' and other Django songs. In fact, if I love dancing lindy to it, I love balboa to it.
  • balboa dancers like the same chunky four-on-the-floor rhythm that I do for lindy hop. They're not keen on shufflely rhythms of the late 40s and early 50s. Mostly because they're a bit too behind the beat, and the bal doods like it a bit more on the beat.
  • Bal doods like big band music. Because it's big. Nick made that point in a conversation we had (I confess: I asked him to dance just so I could then stand and chat with him about DJing. Laaaaame), and I think it's an interesting one, as small groups (Goodman's small bands, Django's, some smaller Ellington, etc) are DJed a lot for bal dancers. I like that stuff, and I do DJ it for lindy hoppers. I had assumed that that was what bal dancers liked. I think, in retrospect, that bal dancers can do a lot with that smaller, complicated 'chamber' jazz. But that big bands are just more fun.
  • Hot 20s stuff is not good for bal. It was very popular with some Australian bal DJs and teachers, but I didn't feel comfortable DJing it for bal - it's too 1/2 time. Too uppy downy. I was relieved to hear Nick make similar comments. I like that action for charleston or other uppy-downy dances. But I think bal - as with lindy - works better with the more 'horizontal' or swinging timing - 'four on the floor and no cheating' as Basie said. The increased swinginess simply feels better for a dance that's using lots of syncopated delays and gooshy down-bounce. This issue is one I'd like to return to, in relation to lindy hop. And how I'm increasingly uncomfortable with DJs who load their lindy sets down with hotter 20s stuff (and recreationist stuff in that style). It's superfun music, but unless the crowd are into that earlier style lindy, it's not going to rock. Personally, I like a big band from the early to mid 30s. Heck, the 30s. I like the swing. I like the greater range in tempos. I also like the hotter earlier stuff a LOT, but not for my lindy. That's for other dances.
  • Peter Loggins is right: if it feels good for lindy, it'll feel better for balboa.

"balboa DJing" was posted by dogpossum on June 29, 2010 3:42 AM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)


I am slowly recovering and feeling pretty ok up the top. Full of strongs. Knees are still pretty sore, though, and a weekend of bal hasn't really helped.

But I'll keep doing my podiatrist-reccommended exercises. Then I will be MADE of strong.

"strongs" was posted by dogpossum on June 29, 2010 1:27 AM in the category fitness | Comments (0)

June 27, 2010

fitness: walking

km tracked: 4, calories: 117, feeling: good, effort: 2/5

A little walk to work out the kinks after some serious stretching.

"fitness: walking" was posted by dogpossum on June 27, 2010 3:36 AM in the category fitness and walking | Comments (0)

June 26, 2010

fitness: workshops

duration: 5 hours, effort: 2/5, feeling: good

Balboa again - not the biggest aerobic challenge, but good for the posture, etc etc.
Left me feeling a bit achey in the joints, though.

"fitness: workshops" was posted by dogpossum on June 26, 2010 3:37 AM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

June 25, 2010

the highest joy

(a href="">linky

"the highest joy" was posted by dogpossum on June 25, 2010 9:27 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and lolfrankie | Comments (0)

nice things

Lint has nice things:

Because the depression was in colour:

"nice things" was posted by dogpossum on June 25, 2010 9:07 PM in the category clicky | Comments (0)

fitness: social dancing

duration: 2 hours, feeling: good, effort: 2/5

More balboa. The achiness isn't too bad, but I chose not to do the workshops the next day, just in case.
Went to podiatrist and got exercises for my knees. Nothing dire and knee problems will be fixed by hardcore strength training. No running for 4 weeks, or until my knees are stronger.
We'll see.

"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on June 25, 2010 3:38 AM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

June 22, 2010

8track: songs that might work for balboa

Or check it out here.
Image stoled from Shorpy.

I'm trying to get my brain around some balboa music. Buggered if I know what I'm doing. All this stuff is songs that I love, but which don't really always work for flatout badass lindy hop. What the hey - maybe they'd be good for bal? Who can say.

title artist album bpm year length

Chris And His Gang The Cairo Club Orchestra Sunday 180 2004 2:40
Swingin' On The Campus Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 2 (Disc 2) 196 1939 2:42
Stompy Jones Duke Ellington The Very Best Of Duke Ellington 199 3:04
Stealin' Smack's Apples Glenn Miller's G.I.s (Peanuts Hucko, Mel Powell, Bernie Priven, Joe Schulman, Ray McKinley, Django Reinhardt) Glenn Miller's G.I.s in Paris 1945 175 1945 2:36
Boo-Woo Harry James and his Boogie Woogie Trio (Pete Johnson) Pete Johnson 1938-1939 209 1939 2:59
Zonky McKinney's Cotton Pickers (Don Redman) Zonky 226 1930 3:03
Sugar (That Sugar Baby O' Mine) Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra (Billie Holiday, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, Milt Hinton, Cozy Cole) Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) (Disc 05) 170 1939 2:48
I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby (05-20-38) Una Mae Carlisle with Dave Wilkins, Bertie King, Alan Ferguson, Len Harrison, Hymie Schneider Una Mae Carlisle: Complete Jazz Series 1938 - 1941 201 1938 2:41

"8track: songs that might work for balboa" was posted by dogpossum on June 22, 2010 4:29 PM in the category 8 tracks and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (1)

June 20, 2010

fitness: cycling

km: 12, duration: 2:00, pace: 6.0km/h, calories: 1559, effort: 2/5, feeling: great

The slowest, nicest ride around the bay and down the canals. Just for fun, because the weather is glorious. And because my knees are sore and couldn't take a serious ride, a run or more walking.

"fitness: cycling" was posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2010 5:31 PM in the category bikes and fitness | Comments (0)

June 19, 2010

hacking a research project

More interesting uses of archives, etc over at discontents where @wragge is talking about getting funding for a project which is utterly FASCINATING.

"hacking a research project" was posted by dogpossum on June 19, 2010 12:31 PM in the category academia and curating and collecting | Comments (0)

June 18, 2010

fitness: social dancing

Thursday 10th June: 8-midnight
Friday 11th June: midnight-3am
Saturday 12th June: 8-4am (minus 2 hours)
Sunday 13th June: 8-4am
Monday 14th June: 8-midnight

Obviously not dancing every single one of those hours, but plenty of dancing. Ended up with really sore knees. The following Friday I was still feeling pretty fatigued. I'm pretty fit these days, but this much dancing and so little sleep left a mark.

"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on June 18, 2010 8:14 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

June 17, 2010

fitness: walking

duration: 00:45, calories: 202, effort: 2/5, feeling: good

Just some walking about to get places. Still working out the post-exchange kinks. Knees still quite sore.

"fitness: walking" was posted by dogpossum on June 17, 2010 5:30 PM in the category fitness | Comments (0)

June 16, 2010

fitness: walking

duration: 00:30, calories: 134, effort: 2/5, feeling: good.

A quick walk to help loosen out my dance-scrunched muscles. Knees and hips are complaining.

"fitness: walking" was posted by dogpossum on June 16, 2010 5:29 PM in the category fitness | Comments (0)

June 13, 2010

MSF set 2.5 + fan-gush for falty's djing

Ok, so when I heard Falty was teaching at MSF, my first thought was not 'oh, wonderful - nice classes' or even 'hellz yes; yr gender norms, we will fuck them up' but 'oo! can haz DJ?!' I'm organising the DJs this year for the event, so I just dropped an email off to the man, and - ta da! - we had DJ.
Mike very kindly did a set at the late night last night, and it was (and here, you must understand, I am understating the case) frickin neat. He did a really fucking great set. The sort of stuff that I'm really loving at the moment; lots of energy, grunt, dirty rhythms, etc etc etc.
I was doing the set before him, to warm the room, and I did an ok set - nothing too exciting, mostly things people'd heard before, etc. I was really trying to just get things cooking a little, and not to kill people after their night with the tempo-ly challenging Red Hot Rhythmakers and before Falty introduced them to the Kicking Of Arse.
After he was done with that (and after he exposed his person to a room full of appreciative dancers of all genders), I kind of chilled things off a little with a lo-fi, medium-slow tempo set of stuff I adore, but which I rarely play for dancers. By this point people were a) pissed as newts, b) absolutely knackered, c) drained like sinks, d) mixed like dodgy metaphors. So I kind of mellowed it. This weekend I'd been asked to go easy on blues with DJs, and really to offer a program packed with lindy hop. So I didn't want to go solid blues, but I did want to ease off the tempos.

side note:
It's been really fun, actually, to work with the DJs this year. They're all really capable and together, AND they're all really good DJs. I've been super happy with their work so far. I hope I don't jinx things, but they've done just the right stuff all weekend. The band breaks have been DJed masterfully (Loz warmed the room perfectly on Thursday, Keiran did a lovely 'sophisticated swing' introduction to the 20s society band style of the Rhythmakers in the fancy Fitzroy Town Hall (which he then shifted over into more raggedy lindy hopping action). Lexi did a fucking scorching set at the late night on Friday, which made me dance and dance and dance til I thought I might pass out (I'm spinning around!). I didn't hear all Sharon's set, but she was moving nicely from Lexi badassery to more mixed lindy hopping goodness when I left. Last night Falty was superfine, and I was actually pretty happy with the set I did after him. I started at 3 (with workshops the next day), so the room did empty out a bit, but the numbers stayed, and I was glad I didn't go down into blues or keep trying to push the tempos. I really wanted to play seriously scratchy, lo-fi stuff with silly lyrics, dirty lyrics and familiar lyrics done a little wackier.

Tonight the band is the Sweet Lowdowns, who I do love. They're a smaller subset of Rhythmaker folk, but they do hot combo style rather than a bigger, more society type 20s sound. The brief for the late night (which is at the same venue as the band) is for 'blues/lindy combo', which is going to be a bit challenging. I have Keith doing the first set, so I'm hoping he'll do a straight lindy transition from the band. Then Manon is booked to do a lindy-blues mix. Her style is a little different - she's really the only hi-fi/heading-towards-groove DJ on the program, and to be honest, even I'm ready for something a little slicker and saucier. I'm closing the night after her, and I'll probably do the same sort of stuff... or whatever the crowd are digging. It's going to be lots of fun.
That's my last set for the weekend. I've been doing all the little fill in jobs over the weekend, the ones that I don't like giving other DJs because they're little and a bit shitty. So I've done the social breaks during the comp (that was boring. Watching comps is boring, I'm afraid), I did 4 songs for the charleston comp on Friday, I did a real set last night to warm for Falty, and I did a small closer set after him. And I suspect tonight's set will be a littlie as well. I did have some reservations about putting myself on all those sets, but the only one that actually really felt like a good, solid DJing gig was the one before Falty. I have also tried hard to put the other DJs on good, solid gigs as well as any band breaks. But there's not a lot of solid DJing this weekend, because of the bands, so it's been hard. There've been hour long blocks before the bands, then 30 or 15 minute breaks during the bands, so those band break DJs are getting some solid action, I hope. The bands are, though, really really GREAT.

These are issues I struggle with when I coordinate DJs. I pick DJs I think are great. And then I want to show them off. But it's hard to flaunt a badass DJ when they're supporting a band - the band is the main attraction after all. I'm beginning to feel that it'd be easier to just put a CD on in band breaks. I mean, it's not like the olden days in lindy hop, when the bands were so bad you really _needed_ a good band break DJ. But then there are lots of annoying jobs during band gigs that require a real DJ - playing music for performances, welcome dances, etc - so you actually need a DJ who's really responsible and together...
It's a hard set of decisions, really. I think it's a better idea to keep the number of DJs at a gig low, and then to use them in a few settings. So long as they're cool with that. But then you get other problems: DJs who aren't involved feel left out; the DJs who're working a lot get a bit tired; if you've blundered and misjudged the type of DJs you'v chosen, the crowd are stuck with them all weekend. The last one isn't really a big problem, I don't think. I put a lot of effort into finding out exactly what the organisers want from the music - old school? A mixed platter? What's their creative 'goal' for the event? Do they want 'all really experienced DJs'? A mix of old and new so as to do some community development with encouraging new DJs? All local? A mix of interstate/overseas and local?

These can sound like wanky questions, but it really helps to talk to the organiser and find out what they want the final event to be like. Then I make suggestions and try to put together a list of people I think will work for the event. And then I get the organiser to check that list and give me the nod. It can get tricky if the organiser isn't a DJ or doesn't really get into music in a big way. In those cases I try to be a bit more active in my thinking, and to ask questions about their ideas for the event in a more general way. Then I try to come up with DJs who'll help make the event work that way.

The next step is, of course, to invite the DJs you want. It can be hard to persuade DJs from out of town to come to an event where they'll only get free entry, and then be paid $20 or $30 per hour, and without any meal or flight payments. I'm also thinking that it might be a worthwhile investment paying DJs more and giving them better packages, just so we can guarantee their presence and work. They certainly do that in America at the bigger events.
This issue is really indicative of a transitional moment in Australian swing dance culture - we just don't seem to value DJs that highly. Which of course suggests that social dancing isn't that important. I think this is changing, though. But we are beginning (as a scene - there are individual exceptions of course) to see broader cultural shifts in how we value DJs and music. But the sheer fact of geography has meant that dancers are unlikely to travel _just_ for a social dancing event, unless it's guaranteed badass, has a good reputation or offers something else along the way (eg the Hellzapoppin' comp).

These are all issues I have to think my way through. I'm still not entirely sure how I'd plan my 'ideal' event. Would I get in just a handful (as in 4 or 5 maximum) DJs, pay them really well, and give them great deals, then use them quite thoroughly on the program, promoting them heavily as a key feature of the event? What would this do to the status of the bands, though? Bands are, really, the best fun and the best part of a weekend. If they're good bands. Do I really think it's a good idea to create a sort of hierarchy of knowledge and status with DJs somewhere higher up? I mean, isn't this a bit self-serving, speaking as a DJ? Why should DJs be more important than the people who clean up after the dance?

Part of me argues that DJing requires a significant investment of time and money, and the development of skills and professional contacts and networks, so really it is more value-laden than cleaning up after the dance. But then there are clear gender divides happening here. DJs are usually men, and the cleaner-uppers and volunteers generally, are usually women. It's actually been nice to see in the last few years, that this gendering is shifting. Women are over represented in volunteer labour (as they are in the broader community), but they are steadily creeping into the DJing ranks. MSF features five women DJs and three men. This has to be a first in Australian DJ terms. I've never been at an event with more women than men DJs. And I have to say, they've been absolute GEMS.
I've _never_ had such a professional, capable team of DJs. No one's been late to a set, no one's lost anything essential, no one's missed a set (!!), no one's failed to bring the right gear. Everyone's been really keen to pull out their best work, everyone's been really conscientious, everyone's done really top quality sets, everyone's been an absolute pleasure to work with. It's been a really wonderful experience working with this group. This isn't to say that I haven't also had good experiences with other DJs at other events, but this one just seems to be working really well. AND I've had some really good dances.

My one concern, though, is that the heavy emphasis on music from the 20s, 30s and 40s has alienated some of the punters, especially the ones who're new to the dance, or aren't actually into old school music. This type of music is quite chic with the Melbourne teachers at the moment, but it hasn't always been. Some of this stuff can be a bit challenging if you're not used to the low audio quality, the musical structures, or if your dancing is really limited to just a few basic steps. The more dancing skills you have, the more experience with historic dance forms you have, the more accessible you find this stuff. It's helped that the teachers for the weekend are into this action, so they're teaching with this type of music. But part of me is thinking 'isn't it time we went hi-fi here?' All of the DJs (pretty much) have dropped contemporary recordings into their sets, but the music these modern bands are playing is still pretty old school.

On the other hand, I think that Australia is approaching the point (finally) where we can actually specialise musically at each event. I think it's a shame not to produce events with particular musical or stylistic focuses. I like to see events that have a consistency in the branding (logos, PR material, individual event PR), bands, DJs, competition structures, performances and classes. So Soul Glo is successful in part because it presents a soul-focussed event for swing dancers, with a strong blues sub-focus. Hullabaloo in Perth has always had an old-school focus, but that event is more of a complete package, and they offer such a quality event the music is really only one component of a very solid program. I think MLX could actually do with stronger branding on this front. It's been 'solid swinging jazz' since 2005 when it went all-social, but I think this branding needs updating and strengthening. I can see why some events wouldn't want to take the risk of alienating potential punters with such specific branding, but then, I wonder if it's not worth taking a risk? As a dancer, I'm certainly looking for a particular experience when I go to an event. And a 'good weekend of dancing' isn't really enough any more - I want something a little different. But still within the vernacular jazz discourse, though... unless I am at Soul Glo, and I know what I'm getting.

Ok, so that's enough of that.

Here's the set I did after Falty last night.

title band album bpm year length

It's Your Last Chance To Dance Preservation Hall The Hurricane Sessions 179 2007 4:31
Georgia Grind Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (Trummy Young, Edmund Hall, Billy Kyle, George Barnes, Squire Gersh, Barrett Deems, Bob Haggart, Velma Middleton, Yank Lawson) The Complete Decca Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars (disc 05) 124 1957 3:23
Deep Trouble Les Red Hot Reedwarmers King Joe 179 2006 2:55
Blue Leaf Clover Firecracker Jazz Band The Firecracker Jazz Band 111 2005 4:59
Do Your Duty Bessie Smith acc by Buck and his Band (Frank Newton, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, Chu Berry, Buck Washington, Bobby Johnson, Billy Taylor) Classic Chu Berry Columbia And Victor Sessions (Disc 1) 121 1933 3:31
Wipe It Off Lonnie Johnson and Clarence Williams acc. by James P. Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Spencer Williams Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts and Lollypops 122 1930 3:20
I Like Pie I Like Cake (but I like you best of all) The Goofus Five (Bill Moore, Adrian Rollini, Irving Brodsky, Tommy Felline, Stan King) Goofus Five 1924-1925 188 1924 3:15
Don't You Leave Me Here Jelly Roll Morton's New Orleans Jazzmen (Zutty Singleton) Jelly Roll Morton 1930-1939 143 1939 2:23
It's Tight Like That Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra The Jimmie Noone Collection 144 1928 2:49
Downright Disgusted Blues Wingy Manone and his Orchestra (Chu Berry) Classic Chu Berry Columbia And Victor Sessions (Disc 5) 129 1939 2:31
How Do They Do It That Way? Henry 'Red' Allen and his Orchestra (JC Higgenbotham, Albert Nicholas, Charlie Holmes, Luis Russell, Will Johnson, Pops Foster, Paul Barabarin), Victoria Spivey and the Four Wanderers Henry Red Allen And His New York Orchestra (disc 2) 139 1929 3:20
On Revival Day (A Rhythmic Spiritual) (06-09-30) Bessie Smith acc by James P. Johnson, Bessemer Singers Jazz Cats - Jazz to Wake Up to 163 1930 2:58
That Too, Do Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra (Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing) Moten Swing 123 1930 3:20
That's What I Like About You Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra (Charlie Teagarden, Stirling Bose, Pee Wee Russell, Joe Catalyne, Max Farley, Adrian Rollini, Fats Waller, Nappy Lamare, Artie Bernstein, Stan King) The Complete Okeh and Brunswick Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer and Jack Teagarden Sessions (1924-1936) (disc 6) 166 1931 3:27
The Blues A Artie Shaw and his New Music Self Portrait (Disc 1) 123 1937 2:52
The Right Key But the Wrong Keyhole Clarence Williams and his Orchestra Clarence Williams and His Orchestra Vol. 1, 1933-1934 103 1933 2:36

Falty had played a set with quite a few contemporary New Orleans bands (Jazz Vipers, Preservation Hall, etc), and a lot of bands quite like the ones I usually play. In fact, we had a few of the same songs on our short lists when we compared our sets just before we swapped over. This was really exciting - I got a chance to dance to stuff I adore, but don't DJ very often. Then Mike's status allowed him to take risks I couldn't, and his actual DJing _skillz_ made it work for him. From here, I could take more risks with the music I played. That's why I went old school. I didn't try to make people crazy and upenergy the way I usually do, as people were shagged, and Mike had really done that action quite thoroughly already.

I played the first Pres Hall song as a way of moving from Falty to something else. I was feeling a little emotionally battered myself, so I thought I might ease it off afterwards. I think that song was a bit in your face for a first song, though. I had kind of tossed up between that and their version of 'Sugar Blues', so as to completely change things up, but I chickened out on such a bold move. I also didn't want to signal 'this is where the blues begins!' so clearly and risk losing half my (dwindling) crowd.

I played 'Georgia Grind' because I love it. Falty had played a way up-tempo, scratchy version earlier, and I thought it'd be cute to signal my change in vibe by playing a hi-fi version by Armstrong. It's a little twee in parts, but the band is so good it really overcomes that later on in some of the choruses.

I <3 Les Red Hot Reedwarmers. Make sure you search for them on youtube - they're a great little French band who do wonderful, wonderful Jimmie Noone stuff. This song is kind of cute and mellow, but also musically amazing, and recorded live. Props to them.

'Blue Leaf Clover' always goes down well, if I prepare the set for it properly first. It's by the Firecracker Jazz Band, which was kind of a reference to my charleston songs the night before. This is such a great band.

Really, I was headed towards Bessie Smith all the time. I find that whenever I play her, people love her. They really respond to her versions of songs they know, but also to her more obscure stuff. This song is super neat, and you can't really go past the line up in the band. This was a transition (with its brass solos) from the Firecrackers to the next song with its piano/guitar combo. It's a little lighter hearted than Bessie, but it's much dirtier. And it's really fun. These are two of my most favourite songs of all time. I especially like the man-singing-like-a-woman vibe, which I revisit later with the Teagarden/Waller duet.

I had to play this superior Pie/Cake version which Trev put me onto ages ago. Go Goofus Five! I think this song is a good example of how exchanges are super inspiring for DJs - they give us a chance to hear other DJs bring their wickedforce and then rip it off for our own gain. Ha ha! I like this version because I find the Four Clefs version a bit twee and overplayed, but I love the melody. I hoped it would twig the 'favourite' nerve in the dancers, but then twist it with a more uptempo vibe.

Jelly Roll, because, well. Jelly Roll. This is a nice, chunking, _pushing_ song, that doesn't drag - you feel like you're going somewhere with it. It's an easy tempo, but it has a bit more energy. We needed that energy if I was going to sit down here on these lower tempos. I actually think the vocals are just right - a nice, rollicking, swinging rhythm that contrasts really nicely with the slightly more straight-ahead rhythm section.

Jimmie Noone! I do love this man. And I love this song. More suggestive lyrics. But the expression 'tight like that' is kind of cool because it sounds like a really cool way of describing how something is just plain good stuff - "man, it's tight like that."

Wingy Manone, for a little more swing, and back in that 1939 later swing rhythm. Mike had played a few Manone songs, and I wanted to reference them a bit here.

I had wanted to play some Spivey/Henry Red Allen win, but all I could find was the slower stuff, and I wanted to avoid the bluesy vibe. But then I was reminded of this, which is one of my super favourites. I'd just been crapping on to Mike about how I liked the Spivey/Allen combination, and how it reminded me of the Rosetta Howard/Allen combination, and how Howard was the one who led me to the Hamfats in the first place (we'd just been talking Hamfats).

Bessie Smith. Because. People liked this, but it was a little uptempo, and a little too jesusy for serious dancing. But it's fun, and people like it.

Bennie Moten, while I'm there. Because Basie always wins. And the Jimmy Rushing addition (with the 'Good Morning Blues' lyrics) is full of awesome. Gotta love a bit of a accordian solo in there.

The Teagarden/Waller duet 'That's What I Like About You' was perhaps a bit mistimed - too fast, too straight for this time of night. Having said that, it's also wonderfully queer-as-fuck to hear Teagarden (sigh) singing a love song with Fats Waller (double sigh). They would have known exactly what they were doing. This is queer in so many wonderful ways. These guys were pretty transgressive (a black guy and a white recording together in 1931, who also played together live in Chicago*; all the drug references; the gender-play in this song itself), and this love song with the humourous twist _almost_ undoes the queer... and then it doesn't. It's still Jack Teagarden, who has the sexiest, swingingest voice EVER, singing a love song to Fats Waller, kind of comedic timing and also king of poignant understatement. They're singing a song about mismatched, chalk-and-cheese love. It's perfect.

I closed with Artie Shaw because that song is nice and swinging, it's easy to dance to and it's really nice. It's also pretty slow and mellow, but also kind of chunks along and doesn't drag.

I really enjoyed this set. Though the room slowly emptied out til I called it at 4am, people were still dancing.

Hoo-rah for lindy hop.

* The Fats Waller/Teagarden connection is quite cool. They also did a song called 'Lookin' Good But Feelin' Bad' (Fats Waller and his Buddies (Henry 'Red' Allen, Jack Teagarden, Albert Nicholas, Otto Hardwicke, Larry Binyon, Eddie Condon, Al Morgan, Gene Krupa), 1929) which Les Red Hot Reedwarmers do superhot. That band is pretty much 100% rockhard awesome. The 'That's what I like about you' band isn't quite as good, but it is sporting Adrian Rollini, who I have a bit of a thing for. At any rate, it's all Chicago, and it's all quite subversive stuff.
Teagarden is also interesting for his work with Louis Armstrong - more race stuff that kind of fucked the mainstream American conservativism about. In the early days at least.
I wrote about Armstrong, race etc in these posts:
What again?
magazines, jazz, masculinity, mess
pop culture, jazz and ethnicity

"MSF set 2.5 + fan-gush for falty's djing" was posted by dogpossum on June 13, 2010 5:07 PM in the category cat blogging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and melbourne and music | Comments (0)

June 12, 2010

solo charleston comp MSF 2010 [edited]

Ok, so I've just checked this post that I wrote mid-exchange in a sleep-deprived haze, and realised that all of it is wrong. You can't listen to it here. That's a link to the image I used for the picture to go with the 8track.

Here's the player:

Or you can go to the 8track site to listen there.

The set list:

Shake That Thing Mora's Modern Rhythmists Devil's Serenade 227 2006 2:58
(a warm up all-skate track that everyone knew, but not the Vince Giordano version that usually gets played)

Digadoo Firecracker Jazz Band The Firecracker Jazz Band 247 2005 5:20

(My obsession with this band continues. I bought all their other albums the other day (you can see them here). This was a challenging song to play for a comp, particularly as they were doing shines at this point, and everyone had to deal with very different solos. But they did a brilliant job - it was super cool to see people enter with the vibe of the solo before, then suddenly realise 'oops, this is something different' then tailor their dancing to suit the music. So they weren't just dancing despite the music, pulling out stunts one after another, but actually dancing to the music. This is less common than you might think in a solo charleston comp, which can be a bit stunt-heavy. Anyways, this song is still one of my faves, and I've been playing this song for dancers for ages. It's long and complicated, but it's super neat.
The dancing was the best I'd seen all night, I think, and I had a lot of fun watching it.)

I Found A New Baby Firecracker Jazz Band The Firecracker Jazz Band 287 2005 4:05
(We had to do another round of shines as the crowd couldn't decide which people they wanted pulled out. So all the competitors (six instead of four) went back at it. This song is faster and kind of crazy. It's also kind of de rigeur to play this for solo charleston comps. Firecrackers again, because I love their crazy energy, and their 'sophisticated street sound'. This song kicked their arses, and we ended up with a winner).

Bugle Call Rag Jim Cullum Jazz Band (Duke Heitger, Clint Baker) Chasin' the Blues 243 3:51
(The winner, in charmingly good nature, conceded to a solo of triumph on request. This is the song I chose. It's a bit less frantic, because he was buggered. And we faded it at 30seconds. But he did a jolly good job).

plus some other ones I had on my short list:
Oriental Strut Firecracker Jazz Band 228 2005 The Firecracker Jazz Band
(Too many Firecracker songs for 8tracks).

Hop Head Charlestown Chasers 250 1995 Pleasure Mad 2:57

San Les Red Hot Reedwarmers 285 2007 Apex Blues4:45

Jubilee Stomp David Ostwald's Gully Low Jazz Band (Howard Alden, Mark Shane, Herlin Riley, David Ostwald, Ken Peplowski, Randy Sandke, Wycliffe Gordon) Blues In Our Heart 278 2006 3:22

Happy Feet The Manhattan Rhythm Kings The Aviator 233 2004 2:59

"solo charleston comp MSF 2010 [edited]" was posted by dogpossum on June 12, 2010 6:47 PM in the category 8 tracks and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

June 9, 2010

fitness: running

km tracked: 4, duration: 00:30, pace: 06:53, calories: 389

"fitness: running" was posted by dogpossum on June 9, 2010 8:12 PM in the category fitness and running | Comments (0)

June 7, 2010

fitness: running

km tracked: 4, duration: 00:30, pace: 06:53, calories: 389, effort: 5/5

Had some foot pain that made me walk a minute in the middle. I think I need to backtrack into the c25k and start building up slowly and regularly again. I don't have the fitness I want, and I seem to have having too much foot pain. Still haven't gone to the podiatrist, though, so it could be my orthotics...

"fitness: running" was posted by dogpossum on June 7, 2010 8:11 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

June 6, 2010

last night's djing

I haven't done this in ages (hellz, I haven't posted in ages - I'm blaming teh tweets), but I just feel the urge. So this is a post about a set I did last night.
I've been working super hard at uni lately. Too hard, really. The assessment for one particular subject was out of control, and I've really pushed myself. So I haven't listened to any music in two weeks. Really. I did a couple of hours preparation work yesterday afternoon before my set at the Roxbury because I really wanted to get on top of my music and to do a good job. I need the practice before the MSF weekend next weekend, where I have some sets. So I really thought about this set.
I wanted to avoid doing some things:

  • leaning on the modern recordings of old songs. I wanted to play the original versions.

  • ignoring the wave. I really wanted to work the wave, tempo and style and energy wise. Basically, that means moving logically and smoothly between speeds, musical styles and energy levels. Build up the energy, climax, let them down, build it up, climax, etc etc etc.

  • getting distracted and not giving the crowd 100% of my attention.
I had some other goals, but those were the main ones.

So this is what I played:

Roxbury 5th June 2010 9-10pm
title artist album bpm year length

Jump Through The Window Roy Eldridge and his Orchestra (Zutty Singleton) After You've Gone 154 1943 2:42
The Harlem Stride Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra Live At The Savoy - 1939-40 199 1939 3:29
Leap Frog Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra (Luis Russell) The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946) (disc 7) 159 1941 3:00
Ridin' And Jivin' Earl Hines and his Orchestra (Walter Fuller, Milton Fletcher, Edward Sims, George Dixon, Edward Burke, John Ewing, Joe McLewis, Omer Simeon, Leroy Harris, Budd Johnson, Robert Crowder, Claude Roberts, Quinn Wilson, Alvin Burroughs, Horace Henderson, Jimmy Earl Hines:Complete Jazz Series 1937 - 1939 158 1939 2:40
A Viper's Moan Willie Bryant and his Orchestra (Teddy Wilson, Cozy Cole) Willie Bryant 1935-1936 153 1935 3:26
Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band (Barney Bigard, Helen Andrews) Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band 1944-46 160 1946 3:13
Just Because You Can Catherine Russell Inside This Heart of Mine 136 2010 4:10
You Got to Give Me Some Midnight Serenaders Magnolia 187 2007 4:02
When I Get Low I Get High Linnzi Zaorski and Delta Royale (Charlie Fardella, Robert Snow, Matt Rhody, Seva Venet, Chaz Leary) Hotsy-Totsy 165 2004 2:36
Davenport Blues Adrian Rollini and his Orchestra (Jack Teagarden) Father Of Jazz Trombone 136 1934 3:14
Rag Mop Bob Crosby and the Bobcats Bob Crosby and the Bobcats: The Complete Standard Transcript 164 1950 2:15
Summit Ridge Drive Artie Shaw and his Gramercy Five Self Portrait (Disc 2) 128 1940 3:21
Massachusetts Maxine Sullivan With Buster Bailey, Milt Hinton, Jerome Richardson, Osie Johnson, Dick Hyman, Wendell Marshall A Tribute To Andy Razaf 147 1956 3:19
C-Jam Blues Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis Live In Swing City: Swingin' With Duke 143 1999 3:34
St. Louis Blues Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra Ella Fitzgerald In The Groove 183 1939 4:46
Wrappin' It Up (The Lindy Glide) Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra (Henry 'Red' Allen, Buster Bailey, Ben Webster, Benny Carter) Tidal Wave 208 1934 2:42
For Dancers Only Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford 148 1937 2:41
Peckin' Johnny Hodges and his Orchestra The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 1 (Disc 2) 165 1937 3:10
[Gettin' Much Lately?] Ain't Nothin' To It Fats Waller, his Rhythm and his Orchestra (John Hamilton, Bob Williams, Herman Autrey, Geoge Wilson, Ray Hogan, Jimmy Powell, Dave McRae, Gene Sedric, Bob Carroll, Al Casey, Cedric Wallace, Slick Jones) Last Years (1940-1943) (Disc 2) 134 1941 3:10
I Like Pie, I Like Cake Four Chefs Roots, Volume 2 the 1930's 154 2:45
Madame Dynamite Eddie Condon and his Orchestra (Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Condon, Sidney Catlett) Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 2) 176 1933 2:56
Get Up Skeets Tolbert and his Gentlemen of Swing (Carl Smith, Otis Hicks, Clarence Easter Harry Prather, Hubert Pettaway) Skeets Tolbert 1931-1940 144 1939 2:52

As you can see, it's not a list of rare and unusual songs. There're a lot of standards, songs that people know. Which is kind of the point, isn't it?

I started with Roy Eldridge, because this song continues to be a great opener. Fab trumpet solo to open. Sharon had the room nice and warm for me, and there were enough people to justify something in your face like 'Jump through the window'. I do like this song a lot. The fact that Frida and Skye used it for a fairly ok routine only adds to its cultural cred with lindy hoppers. If they're the type of lindy hoppers who follow international competitions. And not that many of the Roxbury crowd are. I assume.

I wanted to get some up tempos in there after that, and to take advantage of the energy generated by the first song, so I played that lovely Ella track. It's from one of the live recordings she did with Chick Webb's band at the Savoy after Webb passed away. That stuff is fucking GREAT. I crap on about it to everyone, I pimp it all the time, but it continues to go really well whenever I DJ it. It's good because it's live, you can hear the crowd, and you can hear the musicians egging each other and really interacting. It has a stomping rhythm section and a super fun building energy thing happening.

The crowd were a bit tired after that, so I did the right thing and dropped the tempos so they could recover. These days the Roxbury crowd will dance to any tempo. Sharon starts the night with 30mins of super fast old school big band action which she calls the balboa bit, and I call the badkickingfuckingarse bit. Because it is awesome. I am playing that version of 'Leap Frog' quite a bit, but it is great. It does exactly as I want, too - it keeps energy there, but it's not all up in your grill, so you have a bit of an emotional break. It's kind of fun and interesting and does some fun back-and-forthing musically, so it's fun to pay with at the lower tempo.

Then I played 'Ridin' and Jivin'' because I haven't played it in a hundred years, and it's one of my favourites. I don't hear it here in Sydney very often at all, though it was super popular in Melbourne in about 2007 or so (I think it was another of those competition songs). It's kind of mellower at 150 odd bpm and it has a less in your face energy. It kind of builds up and down, it feels a bit saucy, but in a kind of a sneaky way. Not sexy, but kind of lurking.

Then I played 'Viper's Moan' because it is an old fave, and I was trying to mix in favourites with things I don't hear all that often in Sydney. I also like 'Viper's Moan' as a transition from old school big band swing to more New Orleans influenced stuff, and I wanted to kick things up tempo and energy wise with that great version of 'Jericho'. I hear the Sydney Bechet version all the time, but the Kid Ory one is vastly superior.

From there I had a few other bits and pieces lined up - 'Sister Kate', 'Blackstick', 'Ballin' the Jack', favourite stuff that you hear around the place - but I didn't. I felt as though I'd kind of pushed that as far as I could. I was a little bit all over the place with the energy, and I wasn't confident that the NOLA stuff would work. It's not all that popular in Sydney, and I'm not really enjoying it myself atm. By NOLA, of course, I mean that 40s/50s revivalist sound. It's great, but there were other things I wanted to do.

I played 'Just Because you can' because it's super popular atm. People go nuts for it, and I always get asked about it when I play it. So I'm going to play it til we've all had enough of it. It's a good song. It was a big fat energy drop from Jericho, but that was kind of the point. I was pulling a Brian stunt with a bit of stunt DJing. It was within the same sort of stylistic vein of Jericho, what with the violin, chunky rhythms, banjo, etc. But it's kind of saucy and Russell almost eases over into the way-back-behind-the-beat of later swing. Almost. I like this song because it starts chilled and sparse, but it builds up.

I followed up with the Midnight Serenaders because that's a fun song. It's light, it feels bouncy and fun. It's a bit quick in that combination, but the funness always drags people onto the floor. I also like matching the singers in those two songs.

'When I get low I get high' was another in a similar vein - a modern band doing old school small group stuff with chunky rhythms and eccentric vocals. That's one the Roxbury kids are into, because Christian played it when he DJed there. At about that time I realised just how Ella Fitzgerald heavy my set was. I don't usually play her, in part because I don't like her early lyrics, and I find her later stuff a bit groovy. And I don't like her singing all that much at any time.

I played 'Davenport blues' because it's mellow and calm. And because it builds up at the end. I was also determined to end that whole modern thing right THERE because I could see myself going overboard. 'Davenport Blues' is one I overplay. But it always goes down really well, and people like it.

I think it's worth saying here, that one of the things people like about favourites is that they know all the breaks, all the structure, so they can experiment with musicality and step combinations in a musical way, and with some confidence. I know, I know, it'd be easy to critique that with a comment about how lindy hoppers should be familiar enough with the structure of this music (which isn't very complicated, really), and not need hand holding. But I think it's important to remember that this isn't popular music we're dealing with here. It's not something you hear every day, and the structures and style and elements are pretty unfamiliar for most people. And what the fuck - why not play a song people know so they can pull out their best action? That's what makes for a good competition, that's what makes for fun dancing, sometimes.

'Rag Mop' needs to go on my 'don't play this again, you play it too much' list. But it kicks the energy up.

But by the end, the dancers were pretty tired. People seemed pretty tired that night. I think it's because they were dancing most nearly every song. So I played 'Summit Ridge Drive', which I don't play that often any more. In retrospect, I'm really glad I did. I do love it, and people love it too, even though the harpsichord intro puts them off at first. It's a nice, friendly, stompy little song. And I'm glad I went so low with the tempos; it's evidence of my working a real wave, with proper troughs as well as crests.

After that, people were rested, and it was time to get serious. 'Massachusetts' is so overplayed. It's so familiar. But it's still a great song, and it's a great way of building up the energy in the room. The musicians are just so good, they just work together so well and build something really nice.

Same goes for 'C Jam Blues', which I've actually had a moratorium on for ages. But I do like it. And it did the job.

Energy was up by then, people were rested and feeling confident after two familiar songs, so I played 'St Louis Blues' (the Ella one), which I also overplay. But it's great! It's another of those songs that makes people dance even if they're feeling a bit 'oh, it's too fast'. The thing about Roxbury these days is that 183bpm isn't really fast any more. That crowd are also quite happy to experiment with the latiny rhythms in the intro. Also: live! Ella! At the Savoy! It's such a fucking great song.

'Wrappin' it up' was a bit of a stretch, but the hardcore bal dancers just pulled out their shit and eased into some dancing. It was really nice to see the floor stay filled, but with a completely different type of dancing. Balboa is really good for making people feel comfortable with higher tempos. They just get used to them, and don't panic.

Then I played 'For Dancers only' because it was just right. I wanted to get everyone back, and it's a fun, familiar song that actually sounded mellower in that context. And it's a big band classic swing track, to continue that vibe.

Then 'Peckin' because I've been using it for tranky doo lately, and I fucking love it. Still. I love the shouting in the middle. I have been thinking I need to play more Ellington, and this was a step in that direction (that's actually one of his small groups).

'Ain't nothin to it' was a continuation of the silly feel from 'Peckin's lyrics, and also a less intense sound. Another smaller band, but with a more relaxed, fun feeling. So I was easing off the intense emotion of 'St Louis Blues' and 'Wrappin it up'. This is important when you have a smallish crowd of dancers who're dancing every song, over the course of a longer night of social dancing. I find they get emotionally drained as well as physically, so you have to pull back a bit now and then. Work an emotional wave.

I didn't mean to play the pie and cake song there. I really don't much like that version. I _hate_ the intro, and _everyone_ is playing it, _everywhere_ in Sydney. I had meant to play 'Get up' (which I didn't end up playing at all), because it was the perfect segue to 'Madame Dynamite'. It would also have been a song that we don't hear very often (if at all), so it would have made this last section more interesting. But I made some sort of clicking/playlist error. Boo.

Pie Cake, whatevs. It filled the floor, though. I'm a sell out.

'Madame Dynamite' is one I overplay, but it's very popular. And It's super fun.

And then I finished and did some dancing!
It was a fun set, and I think I did a much better job of watching the floor, working the room and playing songs in interesting, smoother combinations. I spent less time looking at my computer, and more watching the room. Yay. I find it a bit tricky to get connected with the crowd in the fairly separated DJ booth at the Roxbury, but it just means I have to walk around more. Though I hated it as a venue, CBD was well set up for connecting with the dancers on the floor and the people in the room.

So I didn't play a particularly challenging set in terms of familiarity - people knew most of that action. But that's ok. I don't think we should set aside songs just because they're popular. I mean, there's a reason favourites become favourites. Sure, they might be hip because some rock star did a routine to them that then got pimped on youtube and faceplant. But if it's a good song, and someone DJs it to dancers a few times, they'll dig it.

I like the Roxbury at the moment for the old school emphasis and higher tempos. But part of me wonders if the slow disappearance of the older crowd and rock and roll crowd hasn't actually been doing good things to the event. Sure, it's now more solidly a good night for lindy hop, and lindy hop tends to be a dance for the younger, more agile crowd (because it helps to be fit when you start getting into it), but a mixed range of ages is a good thing for a community. Longevity, baby. Sustainability, baby. A lack of cliqueiness, baby.

But for now, I'll just enjoy it. And perhaps think about how we might promote it to the half of Sydney who don't go, but do go to the Swingpit.

Swingpit is not fun these days. It's a nice, big venue, the floor is good, it gets a big crowd. But the acoustics are poo, and it's a _church hall_ with no bar. Boo. The DJing has been utterly terrible lately as well. So even when I go looking for fun, I don't always find it there. I haven't DJed there in ages, partly because I've been doing so much Roxbury work and get a bit burnt out when I do more than one set a fortnight. But mostly because I haven't been asked, and haven't really sought it out. And I hated the sound system there (though I noticed they had a new one). I haven't heard DJs like Alice or Justine DJ there in a zillion years, and they're really good stuff. Worth getting your arse to a dance event on a Friday night to see.

The Squeeze calls it Noisepit because the volume is usually pushed so high (to fill the huge, echoey room) it distorts the music and just makes a whole heap of ear-hurting NOISE. And that noise is usually fucking Michael Buble or some second rate neo or some fucked up Wham. I have to say, my friends, an entire set of that does not a fun lindy hopping night make. It's rhythmically WRONG for lindy hop (it don't swing), it's structurally dull, and it's just plain old bad music made by second rate musicians doing ordinary arrangements. Booooring. Annnoooooooying. But I'll go back. And when I get the energy, I'll volunteer for a set. But sometimes I just like to go and dance and dance and take advantage of the large floor space.

There is another night happening in Sydney these days, once a month in Balmain. It's intended as a dance for 'advanced dancers', which of course gets my hackles up. I do not approve of segregating 'advanced' from 'beginner' dancers at social dancing events (which Swingpit and this new thing deliberately do). I don't like it because mixing is good for both groups (beginners dance up and see fun dancing; more experienced dancers learn to fucking socialise like normal people, and mix it up... though they don't always). I don't like it because I don't actually think the categories 'beginner' and 'advanced' apply in this setting - they just seem to be arbitrarily applied by position within that dance school's hierarchy. Perhaps they should be 'people who've only spent a bit of money with us' vs 'people who've spent too much money with us'. I really don't like that sort of segregation of people. I think it breeds cliqueiness, and I think doesn't help build sustainable dance communities, and I think it's rubbish.

Also, the classes before the DJed social are on when the very good band is on downstairs at the same time, and I think it's wrong to disrespect the band like that. I've heard people justify this whole thing as 'giving people a choice', but I don't buy that. I've heard that rubbish before. It's not a 'choice' when you weigh the process down with such ideologically and value-laden structures.

Mostly, I'm not all that interested in going because it's in Balmain on a Sunday and that's too late and too far away on a school night when the buses are really unreliable. It's often on the night after a Roxbury, and I'm a bit over dancing, loud music and late nights by then. So I don't go. If it were in a different area... nah, I still wouldn't go. Balmain is hard for me. If it were in a different area, I'd be more likely to go. If it was just another social night, I'd be more likely to go. And if I wasn't already dancing one night a week on the weekend, I might go.

So that's dancing for me at the moment.

"last night's djing" was posted by dogpossum on June 6, 2010 4:56 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

June 5, 2010

fitness: dance work

duration: 1 hour


"fitness: dance work" was posted by dogpossum on June 5, 2010 8:10 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

June 2, 2010

fitness: running

km tracked: 4, duration: 00:30, pace: 06:53, calories: 389, effort: 4/5

This time I stopped for a 3 minute walk in the middle to give my foot and knee and ankle a break, and it was much better. Then managed to do the last half of the route actually _running_. Still a bit worried about overdoing it and seriously re-injuring my right foot. So I will take things carefully.
Aiming for a third run this week and one yoga session, plus dancing on the weekend, but I'll play it by ear.
Finally: the rain has gone.

"fitness: running" was posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2010 8:09 PM in the category fitness and running | Comments (0)