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April 9, 2009

and then I'll write some

Posted by dogpossum on April 9, 2009 1:36 PM | Comments (0)

Someone should go to the shops and buy veggies. But I don't think it's going to be me. Yesterday I made it down to the shops for a few bits and pieces, but today I'm feeling a bit too crap to ride to Ashfield (all of fifteen minutes away, at my usual speed). Yesterday I spent about fifteen minutes walking around the video shop trying to think. I don't want to spend time wandering around the veggie shop trying to think today.

I have a bad cold and I don't feel so great. But Fats Waller is trying to cheer me up. He might succeed.

I don't actually feel bad, mind you. Well, I feel rough physically, but I don't feel bad in an emotional way. I actually feel pretty good, post-orthotic ecstacy-wise. I think I might do some hardcore jazz history research soon. I need a decent music journal. But I don't think there's much cultural studies work on jazz. Seeing as how it's from the olden days. But I'll have a look. And then I'll write some.

"and then I'll write some" was posted in the category article ideas and domesticity

February 13, 2008

(insert dumb pun about listening to me here)

Posted by dogpossum on February 13, 2008 6:28 PM

I've been thinking about this in relation to dancers. I'm not sure if dancers are really where they're heading with that project thought - I think that's a bit serious and got some political work going on. Dancers just seem kind of ... frivelous in comparison. But perhaps that's interesting in itself. Perhaps it's worth talking about listening as 'fun' as well in terms of participation in serious public discourse.
But I'd like to write about 'listening with the body' and the way dancers (especially DJs) listen to music with an ear to dancing. And how partner dancers share the way they hear the music by getting in closed position (and open! because lindy hoppers are badass and don't need closed to communicate!) and just feeling the way the other person is moving their body. And the truly wonderful, amazing thing about partner dancing is that this isn't conscious - if we had to stop consciously think 'hm, how is my partner feeling the beat here?' the whole thing would collapse. It's about training your muscles to respond automatically to physical stimuli.

Here's an example: one of my first ever yoga classes the instructor was pushing on my back, right about where the leader puts their hand. He said "stop pushing back - let me push you into place". I didn't even notice that I was pushing back - it was just a matter of, as a follow, my 'giving back what I was getting' - returning equal pressure to make a nice connection. So I had to learn to let him move my body about without returning pressure.*

Any how, when you're partner dancing, you've got all this stuff going on in your body, unconsciously. And then the music starts. And your lead 'sets the tone' of the relationship/partnership for the dance - they tell you how they feel the bounce (nice and big and Swedish? Miserly and American? Horrifically absent?), and that bounce is the easiest way for you to keep in time - you bounce along to the beat. The harder the music swings (ie the less on-the-beat-abrupt-yuck it is - the longer the delay between beats, the more time squeezed out of every beat), the more time you have to do deeper bounces (this is where I just can't articulate it - it's something you have to see and feel), etc etc.
And because you're a team, you give back an idea of how you're feeling the music. If they're a great lead (which is congruent to being a great person in this instance), they'll respond and incorporate your feeling into the partnership, so it's not all one-way.

And all this before you even move! You're still in place just checking each other out, 'listening' to the music.
And it's even more complicated it it's live music - the band is feeling each other out, they might be checking out the dancers...
It's all very interesting. Improvisation makes music so much more fun and challenging - anything can happen. So you all have to have really nice connection so you can communicate. You've all got to be giving back what you're getting. Equal pressure.

Any how, I think it's interesting. And I'm going to send in an abstract, but I'm not sure they'll dig it. We'll see.
I'm finding people think my dance stuff is kind of hippy dippy. I feel like one of those fruit loops you meet at conferences who give papers about..., well, that weirdo, completely off-the-wall, nothing to do with anything stuff. I think people hear 'dance' and think the way they do when they hear 'ficto-critical'. But most academics simply don't dance, ever. And most have never partner danced more than once or twice. And that's especially the case as the last generation of ackas retire. It kind of proves my point, though - anyone who dances regularly doesn't think 'woah, fruit loop'. They give dance as much importance as music or visual texts...
...after all, how come we're all so keen on words and less interested in nonverbal communication? I mean, I'm not that much of a hippy dippy type. I don't have any time for crystals or faith healing or past lives. I mean, I even find improvised 'arty' dance discomforting ("I'm a tree, I'm a flower!").

...ok, now I'm ranting and being mean about hippies. I guess I can't get on that wagon if I grow my own veggies (go tomatoes (even if you are eating my clothes line)! go mutant lettuce refugees! go unbelievable amounts of passion fruit!) using compost from the compost bin (go incredible fertiliser!), don't bother with makeup or leg shaving (w the goddamn f?), don't understand high heels and take less time getting ready to go out than The Squeeze. And that no car/love bike thing? Not exactly pushing me to the mainstream.
But come on - you know what I mean when I'm talking about the fruit loop types. That's not me, ok? I'm, like, TOTALLY normal! Rrlly!!1!!

*aside: this is where I feel 'compression' comes from - you give back the pressure your partner gives you (unless they're super-tense, but that's a different story). For the equilibrium made by that equal-return of pressure to become them actually moving you, you allow the pressure to build up until it sort of 'tips' you over into moving. It's really hard to explain, but it's not a matter of just immediately doing as your partner moves you - you have to return the pressure until you reach the point of 'critical mass' where they then initiate movement. There are all sorts of other things going on (including what they're doing with their bodies - are they moving their body weight?), but it's sort of working around that idea.

"(insert dumb pun about listening to me here)" was posted in the category article ideas

January 25, 2007


Posted by dogpossum on January 25, 2007 3:35 PM

The first recorded black woman blues singer (ie first black woman to record a non-religious commercially released song), Mamie Smith's 1920 song Crazy Blues had the lyrics:

I'm gonna do likea Chinaman... go and get some hop
Get myselfa gun... and shoot myself a cop.

That's about sixty years before NWA and Ice-T came along.

Adam Gussow (in "'Shoot myself a cop': Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues as Social Text" (Callaloo 25.1 (2002): 8-44) claims:

Ths song is... an insurrectionary social text, a document that transcends its moment by contributing to an evolving discourse of black revolutionary violence in the broadest sense - which is to say, black violence as a way of resisting white violence and unsettling a repressive social order (10).

I'm doing some reading on blues and women blues singers of the 20s and 30s and it's hardcore stuff. No pussyfooting around this topic. I'm still working on ideas I wrote about briefly here, here and by extension here.

And to think a bunch of white middle class kids are using this shit to dance dirty at late night parties. Though I guess they were doing exactly the same thing in the 20s too.
I can't seem to get past the idea of the 20s as a far more radical moment than the late 30s. And the 20s were charleston time, flapper time - women dancing on their own, not wearing stockings, cutting their hair, staying up all night and getting divorced. While the 30s were lindy hop time, partner dancing, seriously tailored clothes with lots of darts and War Work.

It's really nice to have a chance to finally read and read on things that are entirely 'off-topic'. I can read whatever I like and write about whatever I like. I still can't get over that!
Meanwhile, I've done that paper I had to do and a draft of that guest blog post thing (which is scaring me - the pressure!). I've also got a stack of stuff about online community to read, including some neat stuff by Barry Wellman about the relationship between offline and online community. That dood is beginning to rock.

...I'm sure my interest in writing about seriously dance-related stuff (as opposed to more media-centered stuff) has lots to do with the fact that I'm actually going dancing more often than I have in a year - I dance pretty much every day and do at least 2 serious out-the-house dance things a week. My brain is ticking over all the time. And I feel like I have the time (and freedom from stress) to really think about ideas and make them coherent (sort of, anyway).
No doubt this is post-thesis euphoria and will soon be all over, replaced by some sort of post-thesis anxiety/depression/self-doubt.
For now I'm enjoying myself.


"nerd" was posted in the category academia and article ideas and lindy hop and other dances

January 12, 2007

round up

Posted by dogpossum on January 12, 2007 4:10 PM

Just in case you were wondering why I'd suddenly gone all boring...

I've been very busy writing a paper for a media convergence collection/special ed of a journal/thingy. So I am making a really crappy rough draft at the moment. Soon it will be beautiful, but before it's beautiful, the editing will be horrible. I really enjoy writing (when I'm not all blocked) and write very quickly, so I feel like I'm accomplishing. I do not, however, write good first drafts - I need to edit and edit and edit and edit to make it look nice.

This paper, briefly, is about the AV stuff in my thesis. I've added on a nice bit about youtube, which was very exciting - youtube has made major changes in the world of online dance clips, and the whole 'free' and 'easily accessed' thing, as well as embedding clips in blogs and the sheer, wonderful quantity of obscure footage uploaded to the site make it a fabulous resource for dancers. It's also made some interesting changes in the economy of clip exchange in the swinguverse (to a certain extent). I've added a bit about the Silver Shadows stuff I wrote about in this entry, as it makes for a really nice example of the sorts of things I'm talking about. Not to mention the whole convergence thing.

I still haven't done the 'guest' post. But at least I've had some ideas. Once I've gotten this convergence paper done, I'm going to write something about radio and swing dancers. Now there's a bit of convergent action. I'm especially interested in the way the Yehoodi Talk Show used video podcasting (a visual element to its radio podcast) in the last edition. That's some awesome shit. Especially as they spent a fair bit of that podcast watching video clips they'd found on youtube, google movies, etc. Talk about nice timing. It all flows on nicely from my stuff on DJing and uses of sound/audio technology there.

I actually had a paper in the latest edition of Continuum if you're interested in reading some of the sort of work I'm doing. It's actually a refereed paper from the CSAA conference-before-last and I'm not actually convinced it's much good. I know I've written better. Hopefully this paper I'm doing now will be nicer.

...ok, so the other thing I've been doing is working on this. It's still looking fairly crap, but I do like the way it's going. I've not tested it in anything other than Safari (bad me), so if you're using Internet Exploder - sucked in! I doubt I'll ever actually do anything with this site once it's done (despite it's fairly high hits when I was running it more regularly), but I do like a bit of focussed web design. Viva la css!

Anyway, doing a little work on that this afternoon (paper in the morning, coding in the afternoon, then a mandatory tranky doo break in the late afternoon), I came across this thing on aural style sheets in the W3 website.
It caught my attention as I'd recently read Barista's entry on deafness stuff and my interest was caught. I'd read another comment on Barista's blog a while back about accessability, and I guess it's just been percolating in there for a while. I'm a bit strict about accessability (to a certain extent) because living with The Squeeze has made me aware of things like colours and how underlining links all the time is actually very important for colour blind people. Or even people who see colours in different ways.*

So the thought of styling websites to make them more accessible for people who use screen readers...!
I will read more about it and report back later. Meanwhile, if you know anything about this or have any ideas, points, please do drop them in the comments.

*The Squeeze actually bypasses all this shit by just reading the internet on his feedreader. Except when he's looking at photos.

"round up" was posted in the category academia and article ideas and lindy hop and other dances and webbing

June 16, 2006

remind me

Posted by dogpossum on June 16, 2006 3:26 PM

to write about female role models for lindy hoppers, will you?
Thinking about Frida has made me think about expanding a bit of one of my chapters (ch3 I think) where I wrote about gendered resistance and transgression in dance in contemporary swing dance culture.

In that chapter I looked at how women (and men, but I'm mostly interested in women) do resistant stuff while actually dancing. I write about:
- resistance within the lead-follow partnership, as follows (I think that's where I talk about the swivel and African American v Anglo American styling and gender performance therein - and how women dancers in the 2000s can borrow from these 1930s examples to do active stuff. All via archival film, of course, and then (even more interestingly) via networks of shared clips).
- resistance within the lead-follow partnership, where women lead
- solo dancing for women on the social dance floor (with a reference to flappers and charleston as a radical departure from partner dancing (and the heteronormativity) in the 20s... and in the 2000s. Interesting point: the 30s and 40s were SO conservative compared to the 20s!)

I want to have a think and a write about this stuff in a more comprehensive way. Possibly something for an article for a feministy/gender studies journal? Maybe a feminist media studies journal?

"remind me" was posted in the category article ideas and lindy hop and other dances


About dogpossum

i live in melbourne sydney, australia, like jazz music and dance, swear too much, sew, drink a lot of tea and adore puns. ask me about my phd.