entymology or etymology?

I’m listening to a Black Eyed Peas album on itunes (Behind the Front, actually) for the first time, and it strikes me that I listen to jazz in a very different way to other music. No, let’s get specific. When I’m listening to jazz on itunes via my laptop when I’m using my laptop (as opposed to when I’m hanging around the house doing other things and incidentally listening to music from my laptop via the stereo), my brain and listening bits work in a particular way.
I ask myself: “could you dance to this?” Well, it’s not actually a conscious thing, it’s more of a response. Does this song fulfill the following criteria:
– swinging timing (as opposed to latin or bebop or unswing or whatever)
– does this song make me want to move my arse?
– is the musicianship of a decent standard?
– is the song ‘interesting’ – ie does it offer me musical inspiration for said moving of arse, or do I immediately wander off to find a nectarine to eat?
and then:
– how is the quality of this song – would it cut it on a shitty sound system, and are the basic elements (rhythm section, vocals, etc) distinguishable as individual elements? In other words, can you hear the beat, can you hear the words, does the music have ‘levels’ or is it a flat ‘monotone’ mess?
I also have a few other criteria which are entirely idiosyncratic:
– is it ‘new testament’ – ie 50s or later swinging jazz? If so, does it make me want to gag or is it bearable?
– is it a ‘new band’ (ie someone from the contemporary music scene), and if it is, are they worth worrying about?*
– is this a ‘better’ version of a song I already have?
– is it ‘swinging lindyhop’, ‘groovy swinging lindyhop’, ‘groovy lindyhop’, ‘swinging blues’, ‘groovy swinging blues’, ‘groovy blues’, ‘charleston’, ‘swinging charleston’, ‘slow drag’, ‘kissing song’ or some other animal?
– what’s the bpm? Is it too slow to lindy hop to on an average dance night? Or would you put it in the ‘blues’ folder?
and, most importantly
– how many stars?
This is a crazy way to think about music. Listening to the Black Eyed Peas, I had a momentary instinct to assess the ‘danceability’. Sheesh. Bpm? Who gives a fuck!
And of course, all this is in part of my ongoing issue with DJing.
I have half thought about DJing, but frankly, the main reasons I’ve abstained so far (in order of importance):
1. we only have one decent DJed dance night a week, and only one a fortnight which are at least 2 hours long (2.5 for the former, 2.5-3 for the second). And we call ourselves the biggest swing scene in the country? Fuck – even Hobart has more social dancing action. At any rate, this paucity of DJed social dancing action means that I’m reluctant to waste it standing in front of my laptop playing my favourite dancing songs to a bunch of people who aren’t me.
2. if I’m not there to dance, I’m not particularly interested in being there. I’m not terribly interested in the company of most swing dancers, and I’m certainly not interested in trying to hold a conversation with them in a noisy room where I can only guarantee their attention for 3 minutes. If that. Added to that, our two regular DJed spaces are shitty. The weekely venue is a shitbox – the sort of rank nightclub you’d go to when you were 15 because you could get in. And score some low grade speed while posing for amateur porn. If you were so inclined. The other joint is better, but it’s a dance studio, superhot and overcrowded. Not so cool.
3. the few times I have DJed, I’ve nearly died of boredom. Sure, there are interesting aspects – keeping people on the floor, choosing songs to suit the ‘mood’ or tempo you’ve got going, etc etc. But really, at the end of the day, you’re just playing a bunch of songs for other people to dance to. See point 1.
4. Most people on the floor aren’t particularly interested in excellent swinging jazz. They’d be just as happy dancing to Royal Crown Revue as Basie. This sticks in my craw. It’s even more infuriating when I think of the fact that most of the teachers teaching these people feel the same way – and teach with that crap. Frankly, I couldn’t handle that shit.
I feel – obviously erroneously – that you should dance because the music tells you to. And it should tell you how to dance. For me, if I’m looking to dance lindy hop or charleston or whatever, I need jazz. With lindy hop, I need swinging jazz because the structure of the music is reflected in the dance form. An 8-count basic, where a 4-count rhythm is played out first favouring one foot, then favouring the second. That same 8-count basic is a balance between ‘closed’ and ‘open’ position. ‘Closed’ roughly correlates with scored music, and ‘open’ with improvised, unscored music. The execution of this basic – the steps – involves bounce. And bounce is swinging tempo embodied: it’s about accent and emphasis and delay on particular terms. And all that with a partner on a crowded dance floor – which is, of course, the equivalent to the band.
So not giving a shit about what music you dance to is – to me – a fundamental declaration of a misunderstanding of the way this dance works. Which is fine… but it’s also INFURIATING!
Reasons I would consider DJing:
1. the music I hear when I go out is so ordinary, I consider a civic duty to pull out the good shit. There are problems with this: I don’t know what I’m doing and am just as likely to fuck it up as work it properly for the crowd. But I am attracted to the idea of reminding people of the good stuff, and generally contributing to a musical discourse which expands beyond goddamn Royal Crown Revue. Gotta be in it to win it, I guess. Or, if it’s broke, get off your arse and fix it rather than bitching til someone else does.
2. I really like the music. So hearing it on a big sound system rocks. Though most of our systems suck (esp in the night club joint), and I don’t know how to fix it to make it sound better.
3. You get paid. Not much, but seeing how poor I am at the moment, anything is better than nothing. And it’d get me essential items such as the Slim Gaillard Proper Box set.
4. It’d be a good way to get skilled up. And I love learning how to do new things.
At any rate, this ongoing dilemma/conflict/internal discussion has led to my insane approach to ‘listening’ to music. I go about this complicated system of classification in part with an eye to DJing at some point in the future, but also because it’s certainly been an advantage when it comes to getting music together to work on dance, whether I’m working alone or with other people. I’m also a little ob-con, and this sort of crazy classification is pretty much an extension of my crazy laundry obessiveness, or my deep passion for tidying and arranging glass jars full of ingredients in the kitchen.
It has also been somewhat self perpetuating – the more interest I take in the music, the more interested in the music I become. I’ve learnt more about swinging jazz and jazz generally in the last year than ever before. I have about 400 albums in various forms that I’d consider ‘danceable’, I’ve discovered new artists that I really love, and come to understand and be interested in artists I hadn’t really liked before. The technical knowledge I had from endless singing/performing/classes at school has been expanded and I’ve really developed a greater interest in the relationship between musical form and dance – particularly in terms of the relationship between improvisation and scored music within a song, how this is a reflection of relationships between musicians in a band, the bandleader’s approach, and then – of course – the ways a dancer may respond to all this.
I wouldn’t say that all this has made me a better dancer – you can’t be a better dancer if you don’t dance, and sitting on your clack fussing over your itunes doesn’t quite equate to dancing. Listening to music with this critical ear is definitely not the same as the way I listen to music when I’m dancing. When I’m dancing I’m not ‘conscious’ of musical structure. In fact, I rely on my ability to unconsciously follow the structure of the music. If I had to actually count out the bars or sets of ‘8’ in a phrase while I was dancing I’d be stuffed. I have noticed, though, that my responses to the music have changed and gotten more complex since I’ve been more into the music.
At the end of the day, however, your ability to actually make the music visible – to embody the music – is limited by basic stuff like dance fitness, body awareness (ie do you actually know how to move your arm to make that shape or relax/tense that muscle?), response time, connection with your partner (and ability to influence that connection) and so on. All that shit is really the product of:
1. dancing
2. aerobic fitness
3. experience in your body – dancing, sports, whatever
4. physical experimentation – trying shit out
Sitting there in front of you your itunes you’re not really going to become a better dancer. Nor will you by watching other people dance. You need to move your arse.
Does this lead me to a kind of anxiety about DJing? Perhaps – if I’m sitting there DJing half the night, will my dancing go down in quality? Will I lose fitness? I think it’s very likely. But, having said that, if I’m sitting there disgusted by the music, won’t my dancing suffer the same fate?
So I guess I’ll just continue with my ob-con musical classification. And collection. All those songs are really just specimens in my collection, I guess.
*there seems an instinct to grasp at any contemporary artist who plays anything even remotely ‘swinging’ and then foist it on vulnerable dancers in the swing scene. Just because Harry Connick Jnr is singing a ‘swing song’, don’t mean it necessarily swings, or is even half worth dancing to. Further, the standard of most contemporary swinging jazz artists simply doesn’t match the old skool doods – we have no Basie or Ellington or Armstrong or Holiday or Fitzgerald. They’re all over there in indy rock, thanks.

cultural relevence and dance

Here’s something I wrote about cultural relevence and swing dance a while back. I think it was posted on Swing Talk. I’m reposting it here because it’s got some interesting points that I want to hang onto and think about with the chapter I’m writing atm.
[quote begins]
In terms of music: one of the neat things about Afro-American vernacular jazz dance is that it was ‘made’ in tandem with the music – that’s why live music is important. Jazz totally leans on improvisation. So jazz dances do too. Being able to improvise is as important for us as dancers as it is for jazz musicians: it tests us. It pushes us to our creative limits. It makes the whole thing harder and so much funner.
So if I assume that the original line was: “the way vernacular dance maintains its relevancy to ordinary people’s lives. Dance styles and fashions stick around because they have use-value – they respond to the culture of the day”. You could also use ‘society’ instead I guess.
You know, I’ve thought about this a lot lately. It’s something that has relevancy to me as a dancer, and to me as a feminist researcher looking at issues of power and discourse and ideology in a dance culture.
nerdy academic rambling
As a cultural studies person, I believe that ‘culture’ …
– ie ‘stuff’ like texts (ie music and songs and pictures and paintings and sculpture and story and dances and magazines and television programs and film clips and so on)
and ‘practices’ (stuff we do – like talk about things or share clips or publish magazines or produce paintings or make clothes or whatever)
…is a nice way to look at what a society or culture is thinking and doing at a particular moment in time. As a cultural studies person I tend to be interested in ‘now’ – I’m not a historian, but sometimes I might do historical research. I don’t use historical research techniques. Nor do I use a sociological or anthropological techniques in the same way as people in those fields do.
I assume – as a feminist cultural studies researcher – that the relationships between people – ‘politics’ are indicated or represented in cultural ‘stuff’ and ‘practices’. So if I examine a song from 1935 I could make some guesses about the language and culture of the time. For these guesses to be more productive, I’d look at this text in context. So I’d look at other songs, I’d do interviews with people of the 30s, I’d read newspapers of the day, I’d read academic and popular work of and about that time. I guess that’s what I’m doing with my thesis: I’m looking at how the media we produce (be that dance or online) can be read to identify ideological discourse.
So I think it’s really neat that Afro-American vernacular dance builds this idea of cultural relevancy into its very structure… I mean, all dances do, but Afro-American vernacular dance totally DIGS it and positions it as very important. Hell, the swingout is revolutionary because it broke open the highly structured European partner dance form and gave partners all that time to do their own thing – to improvise.
So I like to see people do ‘their’ thing in those moments. And I think we can analyse those moments to see what sort of person they are, their dance experience and knowledge, their physical abilities, even their political or social beliefs and position (take a look at girl x’s swingout compared to guy x’s swingout – what does this tell you about gender relations? about sexuality? about musicality?). It’s there that we make the dance mean something.
more specific rambling
I wonder how we might combine ‘making the dance relevant to us today’ with any sense of historical ‘accuracy’ or congruency? ie getting new stuff in without losing the old stuff?
It wasn’t a problem in Afro-American dance communities in the ‘original swing era’ (or in vernacular dance traditions generally) – the shared knowledge and skill base was just added to. Useful stuff stuck. Other stuff was shelved.
But many of us feel – as swing dance revivalists – that there’s a responsibility to take a historical moment (be it 1935 in Harlem, 1930 in Kansas city, 1942 in Los Angeles or that heady summer on Balboa Island) and preserve it. Because it’s beautiful or fascinating or exciting or wonderful or awful or scary or whatever. We just want to get onto that moment and somehow make it stick.
It’s an interesting tension, I think.
Some ways I’ve noticed contemporary dancers make swing dances reflect their contemporary lives by exploiting the inherent flexibility of a dance that incorporates things like improvisation, impersonation and imitation:
– women leading and woman/woman dance partnerships not a new thing for partner dance by any means.
Same sex dance partnerships were there waaay back in Europe when partner dancing got going, it was there in various African nations pre American slavery (particularly when mixed-sex partner dancing was taboo), it was there in Afro-American vernacular dance from the beginning, right through the 30s to now.
For me, it’s about reconciling my passion for dance with my frustration with patriarchal and hetero-normative gender roles and dynamics. It’s also about getting to dance with my female friends.
– dancing lindyhop and other swing dances to contemporary music. I know, it makes me cringe sometimes, but hell, if it gets people dancing… I just ask that you dance to olden days music as well: don’t replace the old stuff with the new. Hang onto the bits that are useful. And I think swinging jazz is useful.
– incorporating ‘new skool’ moves into oldskool dances:
the body roll (sexy new skool… or is it really oldskool made newskool already?);
running man (humorous performance of 1980s/70s oldskool… which might also be really oldskool made new and then made new again);
various hip hop bits and pieces (as in hip hop lindy)… again, isn’t this oldskool made newskool in the 80s?
– women and men ‘dancing like themselves’. So seeing men and women actually taking the structure of swing dances to perform their own personality and identity, outside a static gender role or identity. So, seeing a young heterosexual woman dancing with ‘power’ or kickarse to show that she’s an independent woman, in a way she mightn’t have been able to in the 1930s or 40s. Especially if her family or ethnic group weren’t into female empowerment in that time. Or seeing an assertive, alpha-type chick take a moment to just ‘follow’ and stop making decisions for a while. Or seeing a young man not worrying that he may look ‘gay’ or whatever for relaxing and really feeling the music in ways that mightn’t go down so well at a conventional night club. Or seeing a young gay guy working with female partners in a close embrace and not having to second guess the sexual tensions that would accompany this contact in a non-dance setting. Or perhaps even more exciting, see things like that first young woman [I]perform[/I] a meek, stereotypical ‘good Asian girl’ and then rework it to totally subvert it.
– one of the things I’m most interested in at the moment: swing dancers getting into solo stuff. Especially if they’ve never done any type of dancing – not even disco dancing – before swing. I am really interested in the ring structure for things like big apples, charleston-offs, a bit of jazzedy jiggywiggy or whatever – people dancing in a circle so they can see each other, and all be a part of the deal, and yet experimenting with moves and the music independently. I think this is a nice way for people to use a really, really, really old dance form to experiment with their own bodies and personalities in a public place, trying on all sorts of moves. I especially like it when it’s all girl or all boy – I like to see some same sex peer work. But then I also dig a mixed gender thing too…
in this setting you see people for whom dance has never been part of their everyday lives before taking a bit of a chance that they might embarrass themselves and really exploring the things they’re physically capable of, the limits of their ‘jazz’ vocabulary, their ability to steal steps from people near by or make up new steps. It’s different to the big apple dances of the olden days, but it’s still using similar themes and structures.
Neat!

pro J&J = space jump

Just watching some clips of Manu (one of my absolute favourite lindy hop leads – in that I want to be him) here and got to thinking: pro Jack and Jill comps (where you’re randomly matched with a partner and have to dance to music you don’t choose) are just like theatre sports. Well, when Manu and Sylvia do it, anyway…
This is how I feel about Jack and Jill comps – they’re like a fun party game. This is one of the reasons I don’t get nervous with J&J comps (or other dance performances, really): it’s a game. Even if it’s just you performing, it’s still a game, because the audience has a role to play as well – they have to be The Audience. I wonder how much of this approach to performance and competition is a result of my research and developing ideas about the roles of performers and audiences in swing – and how both are ‘performances’?
I have moments of nerves – literally moments – but I don’t get nervous about performances or comps. Same as I don’t get nervous when I’m tutoring or lecturing. I just enjoy it so much, I don’t have time to be nervous.
It reminds me of something that Crinks said the other night. She mentioned a discussion she’d had with some other dancers (people with lots of performance experience) about getting nervous. Someone said ‘I wish I didn’t get nervous’ or something similar, and the other person said ‘I wish I still did – I don’t any more. And the nerves were part of what made it exciting. Now it’s just pedestrian’ (I am paraphrasing majorly here).
It’s funny, because I find that I do a better job if I’m not nervous, and I can relax and get on with focussing on the other stuff and doing a better job. Especially in the case of teaching or lecturing or giving papers: if I’m nervous, I can’t concentrate on the questions people ask, and I don’t do the best job I could.
So when I watched Manu and Sylvia in that J&J, all relaxed and having fun, I thought ‘yes, this is what it’s supposed to be like – fun. And a game’. Space Jump.

Recent Lindy Hop adventures

I’ve just seen some clips from the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown competition this year (on a french site whose name I can’t remember, sorry) and I’ve noticed some interesting tropes.
What’s the ULHS?
The ULHS is one of the most well-respected lindy competitions in the swinguverse. The emphasis is on hardcore dancing, with a relaxed attitude. Sure, Hellzapoppin’ is still the lindy hop competition, but the ULHS is less about choreography and schmaltz than painful comps like the ALHC (american lindy hop comp/championships?) or the Australian Jitterbug Champs.
A word on lindy comps
I’m not a big fan of comps: I’m all about social dancing. But I also recognise the role comps can play in a dance community. They galvanise dancers, getting them keen and working on dance in a serious way. This of course brings up their dancing ability level, and setting new standards in the community.
The obvious draw-back is related to the type of competition: the VRRDA (victorian rock n roll dance association) comps which obsessed Melbourne dancers for ages about 4 years ago are all about the worst aspects of competitive dancing: 100% tacky, schmaltzy, choreographed rubbish (which is pleasurable, but in a different way of course); the AJC where the organisers would enter their own competition (it took 2 years for them to realise how unethical this was): what kind of cultural example is being set there? And of course, Dancesport: the name says it all.
So what did I notice about ULHS?
everything oldskool is nuskool
This is the age of the first wave lindy hop… or second wave.
The kids are getting hardcore into their old clips. THANK GOD! This has led to some scary second-rate imitations further down the line, but the first rank dancers are doing some seriously awesome shit.
crazy = good
This warms my heart (what with being a crazy dancer by trade).
20s solo charleston is still cooking along
Yay. One day Melbourne will get into it in a big way.
Melbourne is still trying to be the USA, dance wise
Sure, there are good reasons to be inspired by the American example, but imitation… hm. It’s kind of a dilemma, because lindy hop is all about imitation – historical recreation. But my concern is with dancers immitating recreationists, rather than dancers getting out there and exploring the original footage.
How to dress
On the other hand, one thing I did think while watching the clips was how appropriate it is to wear contemporary dress while swing dancing. It’s like Shakespeare: it’s always set in the ‘current day’. So wearing contemporary clothes is very appropriate (especially as we are always ‘wearing’ our contemporary cultural ‘clothes’ when we dance or move or speak or write or….).
It’s a dilemma: everything old is new again, and yet everything new is also very appropriate.
One thing I noted (on this point) was the way performers would wear ‘old’ clothes (vintage or recreationist) for performances, and then ‘new’ clothes when they competed. It strikes me as an example of framing and ‘performing’ identity. When performing in formal Performances, they’re putting on an historic identity, framing their dancing performance as recreation. When they perform in competitions, they’re performing their own identities – their own selves (or another of their own selves?), so they wear their ‘own’ clothes. And of course, the two identities and performances aren’t seperate: they are intended to be read intertextually. So when we see Frida in her crazy modern young person clothes, we are still reading her in reference to her historical recreationist work in the Silver Shadows, and in the Hot Shots. This historical cross-referencing serves to authenticate and justify her authority as a dancer, and her status as a ‘good’ dancer.
And just one more point:
Vaudville and lindy hop
I need to get a hold of Henry Jenkins’ book on early musical cinema (1930s). He discusses the vaudville aesthetic and the shift to cinematic narrative in these films. This issue has caught my interest as well, in reference to swing dancers. The ULHS reinforced the vaudvillian aspect of swing dancing: it’s a matter of sitting down to watch a series of individual ‘spectacles’ which we read intertextually. Just as with vaudville theatre, there’s room for audience participation: being an audience is ‘active’.
I’ve been thinking about vaudville and shows like Dancing with the Stars a bit lately, and how we really like it, as audiences. I’d also hazard a speculation that vaudville didn’t really go away – telly is all about pieces of ‘spectacle’ which we put together in a larger viewing ‘whole’. This of course echoes some of the 80s (or was it 90s?) stuff on telly and the ‘glance’ and ‘segments’ of image/narrative/viewing. It emphasises the ‘active’ viewer. Which is what swing dancers are all about: active viewing. Active spectatorship.

dance talk

i’m a bit inspired, dance-wise. it was really nice to get some decent teaching, somewhere outside of angsty old melbourne. it was also nice to meet so many interesting people from all over the world – that was the best thing about herrang.

but i’m totally into leading now – not particularly interested in following. maybe i would be if there’d been any guys in herrang who’d done classes and were interested in trying stuff with me. but doris and i are cooking, and corinne is always up to try things out. so it’s girl on girl action at the moment: i am damn lucky to be able to dance with these two superior follows. corinne leads a bit, and doris is interested: soon we will all be all-leading, all-following chicks.

rawk on.

i am obsessed with weight transfer and leading and following with your centre. this obsession was only fueled by the amazing max at the gym (who does my programs and assesments), who’s taken up aerial work. we had an excited talk about centres the other week: much enthusiastic realisations about how bodies move in space.

max rawks.

a quick gym note: i am doing a hardcore upper-body and core-strengthening program. so my arms and shoulders ache, my abs ache and i’m getting much more control, centre-wise.
max rocks.
and i am getting a two-pack. if i had less of a jelly belly, i might have a three or four pack. but i do, so i don’t. or if i do, i can’t see it.
i really like being strong.

i’d like to be fitter, but i just can’t hack that boring, dull as dogshit cardio work… aerobics totally sucks.

it’s a sad, sad day when you’re eating instant noodles for breakfast

but it can’t be helped. my first night of proper dancing since i’ve been back (where i dance like a nut all night) and i wake up feeling a little ill. now, i’ve been dealing with herrang cold remnants since i arrived home last thursday, but it seems the IT nerd version of the cold which laid The Squeeze low has decided to take up residence in moi. sick again. so i’m feeling tired and rough and a little disappointed in my immune system. i thought we were a team.
at any rate, despite my attempts to eat only sandwiches since i arrived home, there is no decent bread in the house. the only alternative for sick-girl was obviously instant noodles. and i think the milk has gone off.
sigh.
meanwhile, the handyman (who i quite like) is wacking things in another room, attending to 2 of the 10 or so items on our list of ‘fix it now you bastards’ things. a list we sent to the real estate agent before i left (we’re talking at least 7 weeks ago). only now, since i’ve been home and threatened to kick arse have they done anything about this list. a plumber is promised, but i doubt we’ll see him any time soon.
meanwhile, the lease is up, so we’re living on borrowed time and with little room to apply pressure to our arsehole landlord. we are trying to decide whether or not we should move. unfortuntately, though, areshole landlords dominate our price bracket, and while we pay too much rent here, it’s still cheaper to stay than to pay for all the moving crap.
ah, renting. how wonderful it is.

first night dancing

Last night we went to the Austrian club to see JW. My first night dancing since i’ve been back (and it’s been about a week since i last danced – feels like a couple of days, though, owing to the weirdo travel thing). The Squeeze brought his excellent digital camera and took some wonderful photos of the band. i had a play and took some nice photos of my friends. they’re a bit grainy because it was quite dark there, the shutter speed wasn’t quite quick enough (i think – i don’t really know about this stuff), i don’t use flash (because people look horrid and washed out, though The Squeeze has introduced me to the notion of fill flash. hm.) and they were a bit far away.
This is a picture of doris and corinne. aren’t they pretty? this is an edited version (i cropped for framing). i’m still learning, so be kind.
also, i’m having some troubles with mt uploading my files. so the link to the popup might be broken. check the archive for a better copy if you want to save a copy. please keep in mind that these are photos i’ve taken myself, and you should (if you’re any sort of decent person) credit me. if you want to use any of these photos in your own publications (including websites) please get my permission or at least credit me and link to my site.
ta.

Continue reading “first night dancing”

flying home

There’s something strange about being the only person in a block of apartments after spending two weeks in the constant company of at least 200 people. Especially when those 200 people are almost always in constant physical contact with each other.

The second camp – Camp Savoy – is over, and I’m taking an extra night in the student housing to recover before I fly out of Heathrow tomorrow night. The weather has been utterly wonderful: very warm, very sunny. This could be a university campus anywhere in Australia. Though the food marks it as singularly British. Otherwise, there are very few English accents about – this being a university campus and all – and I’m really quite enjoying doodling about on my own.
Could do with a bit of company, but still
how could I complain about such a long, glorious evening with such wonderful warmth and cooling breeze? And after all this sitting about on the hilly lawn under the student accommodation, reading The Guardian (which I’ve missed) and beginning to think again, I’ve a lovely clean, dry bed with sheets and no early morning missions ahead of me.

The last two weeks have been incredibly intense. Herrang was the perfect exercise in indoctrination: intensely, physically demanding days with round the clock dancing, where doing a beginners class in aerials at 12midnight (midday Herrang time) seemed perfectly logical and plain black tea was a precious commodity to be traded illicitly and only between friends. I have surely joined a cult, and am in dire need of deprogramming.

Living with constant physical exhaustion, sleep deficiency and irregular meals have taken their toll and my health has once again dropped. The Herrang bug has been hanging about in my sinuses since late last week, and pushed me into naps every afternoon. Expensive classes with world-class lindy hop egos be-damned. There’s rest and recuperation to be done. My lungs are beginning to fill and the Horrid Cough has returned. I predict much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the plane takes off.

Flying with feet as sore and mangled and swollen as mine were last week resulted in a pain so spectacular I would have bawled like a baby if I’d not been so tired I fell immediately into a sleep that defied even take off. While the effects of constant dancing haven’t quite worn off – there are some disturbingly numb spots on my toes and recurring bouts of pins and needles – I’m hoping these couple of days of rest will make flying a bit more comfortable. I’ve regained some higher brain function and have managed to stay awake all day, though I’ll probably find myself all awake and twitchy at about 1am, looking for some dance floor action. But for now, it’s 8:34pm and I’ve not napped today. I must be getting better. There’s also been no dancing, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Over two weeks of dancing every day for at least eight hours is kind of addictive. I’m in endorphin withdrawal, I’m sure. How will I cope with Melbourne’s dark and horrible winter?

Pft. It’s such a lovely, warm evening, it’s hard to imagine Melbourne’s crap weather. For now, while I’ve borrowed from Lionel Hampton, I think Miles Davis is the only possible musical alternative for this evening.

laundry report

My backpack full of clean laundry, care of Eva’s washing machine and a night break between camps, is now more a mixed bag. I am down to the non-dancing underwear (where the dancing underwear seems to have largely disappeared: I’m sure I’ve lost knickers in the Herrang laundry. Despite Grace’s best efforts) and once again wishing I’d brought some thai fisherman’s pants with me. But who’d have thought loose, cotton nappy-inspired trousers would be the perfect garment for a dance camp in Europe? Note to self for future reference, I guess.
The wedding clothes proved just as irritating as I’d thought: sure, I could have dressed up for the blues nights at Herrang (one can never be over dressed for blues night), but then I’d not have felt as comfortable as I did. Ah well.
I’m going to have to hunt for something clean for flying in. Something I can bear to wear for 24 hours straight

Future Herrang visits: more trousers. More loose, comfy cotton trousers. More thai fisherman pants. Ten tshirts is enough. Bring bike pants to manage inevitable Chafing Issues. Never too many pairs of underwear or socks. Bring only machine-washable, quick-drying clothes. Care not for crinkles. Swimming costume an essential for shy-bies (not that I had the opportunity to see if I was shy). Sheets. Say yes to a sheet. Hat. Sarong – another essential.

How will I manage Melbourne’s winter weather and fashion requirements? Especially now I’m at least a size smaller than I was before I left. Goddamn this super-responsive metabolism. It adores exercise. And dancing truly is the best exercise there is.

brit hop revisited

I subsequently met the young fella from London who designed the London Lindy Exchange (LLX) Brit Hop tshirts. He was in Herrang. He was young, cute and a lovely dancer. I know it’s wrong to be patronise, and I do try not to. But he was.
And it was a brit pop joke.
Eeeexcellent.