Dear friends,
I’m sorry I don’t have a link to your blog here any more. I have it in the html, but I’m still unravelling the wordpress widgets, so it’s not displaying. I’ll fix it as soon as I can. So, please, don’t think I’ve forgotten you.

am i being paranoid or is this dodgy?

I’ve just realised (courtesy of a link in a comment from lindydandy) that this blog has been linked to by I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand this linking directs traffic to my site. On the other, it directs traffic to my site. I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of raising my profile in the online international swing dancing world so explicitly. There are as many disadvantages as advantages to this, and dancing is my hobby, not my work, so I don’t particularly need my site’s profile lifted. Or my own.

I also have trouble with the fact that the format of the linking site means that they score money from their ads every time someone clicks on their site. I’m assuming their links to other blogs are scoring them points in the google ranking and that this directs people to their site. And, much more importantly, their aggregating a series of feeds (or whatever) and publishing them to their site means that they’re making these scores not through their own work or writing or creation of content, but through the work of other bloggers.

I’m not naive. I know that this is how the internets work. But I’m also aware of the fact that the dance world is quite small – this isn’t some ‘anonymous’ dodginess. It’s the work of people I actually know. Who are gradually increasing their web presence (or rather, their presence in the online dancing world) via range of tools. They have a number of pots on the boil, and it’s this relationship between the pots (dodgy metaphor much?) that’s tingling my spidey sense. It feels particularly dodgy because this linking site appears to be offering a ‘helpful’ guide to swing dancers’ blogs. It also presents this aggregating as ‘syndicating’ a series of blogs. Thing is, unlike a real syndicated column, I’m not getting anything from this besides traffic. Certainly not a share of the advertising $.

It’s also dodgy because they don’t actually provide any ‘real’ biographical information on their site, not even in their ‘about us’ page. So I can’t grab them next time I see them dancing to have a chat, nor can I follow this up with a mutual friend who can clue me in on their intentions. That’s how these things work in a small community – word of mouth is the most valuable commodity we have. I’m be suspicious that the ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’ pages are actually a bit of a tool for harvesting emails for spam, so I’m not really ready to send them an email just yet.

This site also misrepresents its content, suggesting that it is in some way hosting ‘contributors’ and ‘authors’, or that these authors are in some way affiliated with the site ‘syndicated’ in some sort of official sense. The list of articles in the body of the page includes a chunk of writing from the linked sites like this:

This is the dodgy shit. The link from someone else’s blog was the first I’d heard of it – I’ve not been contacted. The site doesn’t quite contravene copyright and I still haven’t figured out how to put my creative commons license onto my site (which tells people how they can use my content). So this site isn’t doing anything wrong, it’s just kind of muddying the water. Which is a bit dodgy in a small community.

For now I’m going to let it lie while I have a think. I’ve been too busy lately to really get onto my site (the styles are shit, I don’t have my blogroll up and it’s not really a fun place to read my massive big posts :( ), so it’s just item number eleventy on a list of twelveteen Things To Do.

sinister blues

I just want to keep a copy of this comment from faceplant, because I think it’s interesting.

I’ve been thinking about and playing some music that I think of as ‘sinister blues’. I call it that mostly because I remember seeing the Belle and Sebastian CD If you’re feeling sinister on the coffee table when I was talking about it with someone. I like the way B&S, with their kind of sulky, hip aesthetic use the term ‘sinister’, and I like the way their use contrasts with the sort of show these ‘sinister blues’ people do (which is excessive, flamboyant, over the top and everything being hip is not).

Basically, when I think ‘sinister blues’, I’m thinking about bands who use acoustic instrumentation, often borrowed from jazz, blues or folk traditions (gypsy, yiddish, tango, etc), sing songs that are often quite bloody or hypersexualised, dress up in quite flamboyant, carnivale type gear, and do live shows that are really dramatic and fun. Some of them take themselves really seriously, some (most) have a bit of a sense of humour about it.

They really do feel a bit Carnival, in that they are about excess, and often sing or perform stories which are deliberately ‘shocking’ or ‘forbidden’ or otherwise nasty. It’s the excess – of emotion, costume, performing style, etc – which makes them super fun. They tend to dovetail with the goth/rockabilly scene in Sydney, where there’s already a high-costume aesthetic. And some pretty heinous gender fail (do not let me get on my burlesque rant again). But as I point out, there’s room for queering this shit up. Just like in True Blood, which takes all that excessive drama and sinister performance and twists it just a little (I wrote about that a little bit here).

So, Keith asked:

Keith Shapiro:
Meant to take notes on what we were talking about a month ago re: “despicable” blues or something like that, but didn’t write it down and twitter lost it all. Can you remind me about the bands you were talking so I can investigate for this month’s podcast? :)

Keith produces Confessin’ the Blues, which is an interesting podcast discussing music for blues dancing.

I wrote this response:
Hmmm… I think it was ‘Sinister blues’ akshully (just a name to sum up these bands’ kind of dark, broody style).
Tim Jones had some good names as well.

Ones I can think of:

Tiger Lillies


The Tiger Lillies, ‘world’s foremost death oompah band’ (; video: Probably more in the cabaret/gothic glam camp, but still…
[edit: I have written about them here before]

CW Stoneking


CW Stoneking, who you know ( ; video: reminds me of the Tiger Lillies). Definitely danceable songs on his cds, and has links with Melbourne’s hot jazz scene and bands/musicians who play regularly for lindy hoppers.

Tom Waits. Nuff said.

I’m kinda thinking some Nick Cave should be in this list…

Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants


Mojo Juju and the Snake oil merchants’ ‘dusty gin-house cavalcade’ ( finally, a woman! And fairly queer…
[edit: associated with Hoodoo Emporium]

Brothers Grim

[edit: Gunther’s great pic from BBS this year]
Brothers Grim: ‘sex voodoo delta blues-a-billy’ (; Gunther’s great pics: Did a really GREAT set at Blues Before Sunrise this year – great performers.

Snow Droppers


Brothers Grim remind me of some bands which are popular in Sydney (where there’s a greater cross-over with rock n roll and rockabilly), including the Snow Droppers ( who aren’t necessarily ‘blues dancing’ bands, but are in that sort of newer or retro-type rockabilly/jump blues/rhythm n blues (whatevs) vein.

I like the term ‘sinister blues’ because it implies the nasty, morbid, goth edge. It’s also super-serious, which makes me giggle. Reminds me of True Blood, in the BEST possible way. In fact, there’s probably good stuff on the TB soundtrack, and I’ve found good stuff on the Deadwood and Carniv├ále soundtracks as well.
I’m not entirely comfortable with all these bands because some of them (esp at the rockabilly end of the spectrum) tend to be GENDER FAIL. But then, all that work they do is intended to ‘shock’ (including via dodgy gender politics, violent or bloody themes, etc), which is kinda immature, but also part of their shtick. And it can be kinda fun, what with the dressing up and all, especially when it gets _so_ serious it becomes ridiculous.

I can’t think of any female groups who do this stuff (beyond Mojo Juju) And I’d _really_ like to see some queer artists getting in there and screwing with the heteronormativity and rampant blokeism (something for the I think…)
…but then, I don’t really know this music very well.

If I’m DJing these guys, I often add in some super old school stuff with dark or darkly funny lyrics (eg Rosetta Howard singing about how she’ll ‘cut him if he stands still, shoot him if he runs’; Irma Thomas doing ‘Soul of a Man’; Bessie Jones singing ‘O Death’ on the Alan Lomax recordings) – stuff that says bayou, voodoo, etc.

kids and kultcha

I’m trying to keep track of interesting links.
First, ProgDinns have another great post up. This one’s about kids and food and kids as critics.
This post led me to the Mammalian diving reflex site. That’s where I read about the kids reviewing stuff at the festival, giving adults hair cuts and going to restaurants. I also read the stuff about the experts on aging.
Then I read the article about the kids doing the reviews and it was great.
Then I read the eat the street mowbray heights blog and then I read the eat the street toronto blog.
And finally I read the Childrens’ Choice Awards blog.
All of these things are just great.