Category Archives: people i know

shooos

I bought some of these Clarks shoes today because superheidi said they were good. AND THEY ARE. These are teh most comfortable shoes ever.

That’s the internet for you. A person you’ve never met, but who you consider an acquaintance/futurefriend, who lives in some other country (I don’t even know which one! Somewhere in Europe, I reckon), recommends some shoes she bought. Then you look at those shoes and then you love them too! And then you buy them! OMG FRONDS!

What I don’t understand

is why I haven’t been plumbing the depths of Rudolph Valentino for fashion ideas.

I mean, he’s totally the definition of dandy:

He likes accessories:

He’s not afraid of the utterly ridiculous feature item:

He’s good at strict poses:

And doing suspicious poses:

Most importantly, he’s not afraid of the drama:

He’s totally the boss of emoting:

Actually, he’s just the boss. Of everything:

wtf

Last night I dreamt that Todd Yannacone and I were BFFs on a coach trip together, and were particularly enchanted by some squirrels we saw through the window.

WTF unconscious? I mean, it’s not like I’m even interested in arboreal mammals…

Women’s History Month: some thoughts at day 6

It’s women’s history month again, and I’m listing a different woman musician from the first half of the century every day (as I explain here). Last year I did a different woman dancer every day, and that was super great fun. I’m enjoying the women musicians, but I haven’t really had a chance to research or push myself, as I’ve been away at a dance event for most of this month. And today, I’m still feeling a little tired and rough, so I’m not really ready to push myself. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

I did decide in that first post of the month that I’d only dance as a lead this month, as a way of exploring International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month and what it means to be a woman dancing. Well, actually, I just decided that on a whim, without much thinking at all. I don’t follow much these days as I’m really trying to get my leading up to snuff, and the best way to get better at dancing is to dance. And as every lead knows, the real challenge comes on the social dance floor, when you need to come up with a series of moves, connect with your partner and attempt some sort of creativity all at the same time.
We won’t even mention the battle to maintain the fitness and aerobic capacity lindy hop demands.

I have to say, it hasn’t been hard, because I get to dance with amazing dancers, most of whom are my friends. And I’ve learnt so much in the past month or two it’s kind of scary – I suddenly find myself stretching and expanding my skills, pushing myself to try things that I’d never have tried before. But it’s certainly meant a bit of rethinking the way I operate socially at exchanges and dance weekends. My weekend pretty much felt like this:

I mean, the biggest change for me this past weekend in Melbourne was simply spending very little time with men. I have lots of lovely male friends, but I only danced with two of them this weekends, and I discovered that I just didn’t end up spending as much time catching up with blokes as I usually do. :( I think that’s mostly because I’d be chatting to some chicks, and then a song would start and one of them, or I would say “let’s dance!” and then we would, and then afterwards I’d end up mixing with chicks and chatting. Rinse repeat. This of course means that the men in the dancing scene need to man up and start with the following, because I refuse to miss out on their dancing wonderfulness! Good thing Keith and I got to DJ together, or I’d hardly have spent any quality time with a bloke at all this weekend. And that is UNACCEPTABLE.

Workshops on Sunday were fun. I learnt a LOT. And I did a private class with Ramona on Friday, which kind of broke my dancing for a bit, and then suddenly it all came back together and I was a dancing machine on Saturday night. Blues dancing: still a bit too dull for me atm. But then, only boring people are bored, and that’s doubly true of dancers – only a boring lead is bored. I need to woman up.

The DJ Dual with Keith went really well. In fact, I had the most fun DJing I’ve had in ages and ages. We ended up trading three songs until the last moment when we played alternative songs. I think we would have liked to continue for another hour or so, trading single songs, as we got more confident and figured out the skills and tactics we needed. But we’d been DJing for an hour and a half by then, so we might’ve gotten a bit tired. And I had to go in the jack and jill, and I’m not sure it would have been ok for me to DJ the competition I was in. Overall, it was nice to have a bit of a challenge, and it was nice to work with a friend I like and have lots in common with musically. But he is a bit of a sly dog, and wouldn’t tell me what he was playing next, most of the time, so I had to keep on my toes. But that was actually even more fun. DJ Dual: LIKE.

NB There were THREE women leads in the jack and jill competition, and one got through to the finals (in a group of six leads)!!11!1 That photo above is one I lifted from Faceplant – sorry I can’t remember whose it was. It’s of the J&J, I’m in there, and so is at least one of the other female leads.

Now: NEED MORE MALE FOLLOWS!!!

I ended up catching up with lots of internet friends over the weekend as well. Which is always a bit of a push, but well worth it. The best part was walking into a cafe, saying “Hello, I’m Sam, nice to meet you!” and then barrelling into an hour of solid, hardcore talking as though we’d known each other for years. Which we have, really. Just not in person. This trip I went for smaller catch ups, rather than bigger groups, because I wanted to get a chance to actually connect with everyone and I often don’t get that at bigger meet ups. But that also meant I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to. Oh well, good thing I go to Melbourne regularly! I’m planning another trip in May for the Frankie Manning birthday celebrations, so I’ll see if I can fit in the people I missed this time. But that sucks, because you’re still missing people! And then there are all the dance people I want to see off the dance floor! This is, of course, why exchanges are so much fun and so challenging – so many friends descend on one city for just one weekend you really need an enormous dance floor to connect with them all!

Righto, I’d better write up today’s jazz woman!

Here are all the thoughts

This is a journal type blog entry, rather than a cleverly developed argument or discussion. Because I just can’t be fucked.

I went to see Tuba Skinny again last night and stayed up too late and it was all fun. Except I got quite tired by the end because I had had a big day and a big few days before that. That meant that I decided someone needed to lay down The Law, and I am just the person to do it. This is what I think The Law:

1. Tuba Skinny are about sixty million times better live than they are recorded. Cope Street Parade were their support act, and I think CSP need to lift their game. This was made very clear in comparing the two bands. But CSP are really just babbies, so they have some time to get it together. If they don’t, I will be withdrawing my patronage, because I’ve had enough of shouty ocker vocals.

2. I made a new shirt and wore it last night and it was a bit big around the middle. This was a bit annoying.

3. I am terrified of leading on very crowded dance floors.

4. I had a moment of real irritation when I realised that all the peeps were solo dancing in a big circle, just like people at a night club, and this was impeding my dancing.
I had another moment of irrits when I was dancing with one friend, separate like (ie not in a ‘couple dance’) and some random guy came up and sort of tried to start dancing with us. I was thinking ‘hey man, just because you see some peeps dancing, don’t mean you can necessarily just jump in and dance with those peeps.’
I think that most of these thoughts were the result of my tiredness. I mean, it’s pretty petty to resent people dancing in a big circle, or some guy (you know) trying to dance with you when he’s used to reading two people ‘solo dancing’ together as an invitation for everyone to join them.
But really, I think what I’ve learnt here is that big circles of ‘solo dancers’ are kind of floor-hogging, not to mention the fact that all of a sudden all those dancers suddenly lost all their pep and got a bit dull because they were looking at each other instead of at the BAND. I think we can all learn something from the random hippy I saw dancing last night: there are no rules, and when you feel the urge to express yourself, get out there on the floor and shake it. You don’t need a partner/six thousand buddies. Now I will endeavour to put this into action myself.

5. When you get really hot and sweaty dancing in jeans, the crotch of those jeans gets all sodden and gross and becomes a big lump of nappy round your back section. Even if they are stretchy jeans. I’m not sure I approve. I think I will dispense with the denim until the cooler weather returns.

6. Everyone needs to learn to dance slowly. It’s really beginning to bother me. I’ve watched both Dirty Dancing films now, and so I think I’m writing from a position of some authority when I say that dancing slowly can be a) cool and b) sexy. Ok everyone, let’s try dancing slowly as well as fastly and mediumly. K? K.

7. Live music is vastly superior to DJed music, but really only when the live band is good for dancing. A rubbish band is still a rubbish band, even when compared with a DJ. Although a rubbish DJ is still a rubbish DJ, especially when compared to a rubbish band. So what I’m saying is, life is too short for dancing to rubbish bands or rubbish DJs, especially when you live in the biggest city in your country during the biggest arts festival in the country.

8. Sydney is such a beautiful city. Last night I had dinner on the roof of a pub overlooking the Sydney Opera House and it only cost me $20. It wasn’t the best food ever, but the location, the company, the view, all made it a total steal. Sydney is stunning. And the weather right now is beyond gorgeous.

Here are some general points, which aren’t actually related to last night’s gig, but which are on my mind:

1.

2. I love running. I love to run. But I don’t love cats.

3. I have a sore right shoulder from too much photoshopping.

4. Ever since that idiot Qld MP Gambaro told us migrants need to a) wear deoderent on public transport, b) learn to queue up properly and c) pay more attention to personal hygiene (you can read about it here) I’ve been laughing and laughing at how often I get on the train stinking of too much lindy hop, how I’m a migrant and how I am a complete queue jumper. She’s an idiot. And the people who think she’s right are also idiots. But I do stink and I probably should pay more attention to personal hygiene.

5. Swimming is the best.

6. I’m rubbish at the ukulele, but that doesn’t stop me trying. If only I had some sort of memory.

7. Faceplant is really difficult to use. I say this as some sort of internet nerd, and I just can’t figure it out. I suspect it’s easier if you’re between the ages of 12 and 19. I am not.

8. Last night a woman went on and on about how old she was and when I asked her old she was she told me she was “in my 30s” but didn’t say exactly where in her 30s. I said “I’m 37 and I pwn all” and then she tried to convince me that being in your 30s is being old, and that somehow there are clothes that people in their 30s shouldn’t wear. I mean, I agree with her about that – people in their 30s shouldn’t wear really tight jeans, especially when they’re lindy hopping in the middle of summer – but I don’t think that’s what she meant. Please, Ceiling Cat, preserve me from this sort of woman. With whom I have nothing in common, and cannot even begin to find common ground. And, Ceiling Cat, don’t ever let me believe that clothes have some sort of use-by date. That shit’s fucked up.

January round up

(photo of Mary Lou Williams, extremely awesome woman pianist, who fucking PWND the fairly dick-centred boogiewoogie piano world, from here. She was all about OWNING the discourse.)

I’m back running, desperate to get some serious exercise during the christmas dancing drought. So far it’s going well, except today I did run 2 of week 2 of the Ease into 10k program, rather than of the couch to 5k program. I couldn’t figure out why I was finding it so challenging. I figured it was just because I’m out of shape and it’s getting a bit hot even at 9am. It wasn’t until the last running section of the program that I figured it out. Dummy. Hope my knees pull up ok.

I love running. I’m not much good at it. I run slower than I walk. But I love running around my neighbourhood, looking at stuff and saying hello to people I see every day. Whether they like it or not. I also like it that just thirty minutes of running does the job. Delivers the adrenaline, kicks my arse, strengthens my core, lifts my mood. It’s finally getting hotter here, so I’m ready to swim again. Been in the pool once, and I’m suddenly on fire for lap swimming. Love that boring, repetitive exercise with clear, simple goals.

Right now I’m listening to a lot of boogie woogie piano, which kind of suits my adrenaline fixation. Lots of busy left-handedness.

The Sydney Festival First night stuff was fun. Thousands of people pouring into the streets of the CBD to dance and listen to music and watch stuff. The best thing I saw was a koori acrobatic troupe traveling through the festival with a team of gypsy musicians. That shit was hot. Then the next best thing was Tuba Skinny, being lovely. I didn’t much care for the Troc festival. I’m really tired of Dan Barnet’s grandstanding. I much prefer the Sirens Big Band when they’re doing their own thing, without someone with a dick bossing them about. Also, they played the lamest, lamest songs. But I did like the bit during the free class where I looked around and realised we were standing in the middle of a crowd of women dancing together. Extreme lesbian awesome. The Speakeasy after the festival was massive and hot and sweaty and I had a lot of fun there, too.

Our regular dancing gigs are about to start up. This weekend Swing pit is on Friday and Roxbury on Saturday. I’m bossing the DJs for Swingpit (do drop me a line if you want a set!), and I’m DJing at Roxbury. It sucks that they’re both on the same weekend rather than alternative weekends, but that’s one of those complicated things that really ends up being too difficult to keep sorted. I’m looking forward to DJing. I haven’t DJed a proper hardcore lindy hop set since MLX, pretty much, and the Roxbury gig is probably my favourite hardcore DJing opportunity in Sydney.

Alice and I are trying to get our venue sorted for our weekly classes, so if you know a good venue in Sydney’s inner west that’d like to righteous sisters running fun and also badarse lindy hop classes, do drop me a line. I’m looking forward to that.

Health wise, things are ok over here. Not optimal, but far better than they have been. It’s a long, slow road, yo.

Realised yesterday that most of the dance clips I’ve been watching lately are of competitions. Which is a bit boring.

Decided today that I’d really like to be a part of a community run dance event like Speakeasy, but run more regularly, and which focusses on proper lindy hopping music. I want to DJ music from 60 to 360bpm in the one set, and I want to play all my music. And I want dancers to come along and give it a go. I think I’ve finally gotten to the point in my DJing and dancing where I properly understand that just playing music within one tempo range is a complete fail, dancing and creativity wise. Not to mention historically speaking. I am now, officially, against separate ‘blues’ and ‘lindy hop’ events. They should all be in one basket. One event. …actually, I’m not sure I’m against those separate events. But I do know I’m going to continue to copy my current DJing hero, Falty, and play all the tempos in one set.

I’m also (while I’m expositing) impatient with dancers who don’t dance slow. Come on, yo, it needn’t be sexy. Though, having just watched Dirty Dancing, I generally feel that it should be dirty as often as possible. Being able to dance slow is really important in the development of your dance skills. Fast dancing hides errors. But when things are slow, you’ve got to have ninja skills. Good balance, good timing, clear understanding of musical structures. Rhythm. I am hereby advocating slow dancing. Though I’m not particularly interested in ‘blues dance events’. They are really really boring. Sure, I like a blues event attached to a lindy hop event, but a whole weekend of blues dancing? Hurrumph. Well, actually, I’m into it if the DJs and bands are ninjas. I need a very good ‘blues DJ’ to convince me to dance without the adrenaline to kick it on. And I’m not single, so I’m not into the whole frottage cheese side of blues dancing either right now. Though I’m certainly not against it. Sexeh dancing. It’s ok by me. I suspect I’d like blues dancing gigs more if I drink. But I’m boringly straight edge, so I don’t. I am an unashamed adrenaline junky, and I live for good conversation. Don’t make me take up drinking so I can deal with your conversation, k? I think, in the final analysis, that it’s easier to go to a lindy gig if you’re feeling a bit poopy or low energy, because the adrenaline kicks you out of your rut. But blues dancing doesn’t kick you, so you just carry on being a poo. Don’t go to a blues weekend if you’re feeling slumpy. Just don’t. It’s too goddamn dull.

…briefly, on blues DJing: same principles as DJing for lindy hop. Exact same principles. Work the crowd, work the tempos, work the energy, transition smoothly between styles, know your music, know music, don’t be a dick. Most importantly: WORK THE ENERGY.

Feminism, in the news. Or on the twitters. There’ve been a few big fights on the twitts lately. Annoyingly, the gist of it has been:

  • Middle class guys with big discursive power write some sexist bullshit in what I would call a discursively powerful/elite space.
  • They get called on it (politely, cleverly) by some sisters in a public, less powerful space (ie twitter).
  • The guys get all shitty about being called on their rubbish. Because they are TEH LEFTIES and they know about feminism because their partner is a feminist OKAY.
  • All the feminists get a bit shitty with the way the guys respond to getting a heads-up.
  • There’s lots of fighting on teh internets.
  • Everyone gets angry and upset.

Here’s a couple of my ideas on this:

  • Twitter is in real time, which means you can post really quickly. In the days of discussion boards, I learnt that it’s important not to post angry. I think that some of teh lefty interkitten people need to be reminded of how to talk in tutorials where everyone is equal: don’t talk angry. It’s upsetting. Be cool.
  • Blogs are good places for complicated arguments. But not many people are good at talking in 140 characters to hundreds of people at a time in real time, without having visual cues to let them know what people are thinking. Though, frankly, I don’t think those guys would have been any good at reading what was happening in their audience’s body language any way. Power involves speaking without fear of consequence. So you don’t need to worry about reading people’s bodies for their feelings. Because it doesn’t matter if they’re shitty: they can’t touch you!
  • A lot of the wordy lefty guy types aren’t much good at talking in a space that doesn’t favour formal turn taking and quietly attentive audiences. In twittersville, peeps are interrupting you, they’re interrupting each other. They’re doing collaborative meaning making (or meaning disruption) in a way that requires pretty serious skills. I keep thinking about the difference between giving a conference paper and being at afternoon tea with a bunch of lindy hopping ladies. One’s nice and middle class polite and gonna maintain your dick-power and status, the other’s gonna be loud, competitive, rowdy, disrespectful and full of dirty jokes, with lots of complicated unspoken rules and limits. Basically, twitter is not for menz who like the ladies to shoosh-while-they’re-talking.
  • Lefty men really, really REALLY don’t like being told that they’re using the privilege of power to other’s disadvantage. Especially when the person telling them is being calm, sensible and female.
  • Specifically, I think those two posts in the King’s Tribune are fucked up, old school sexism. Sure, they were trying to be jokes, but some of us don’t think rape is funny. Not ever. Because some of us have to think about protecting ourselves from rape most of our waking hours. And when you bring that shit onto the internet, you’re going to get your fucking arse kicked, idiot, because THE SISTERS ARE TALKING, HERE. Also, your jokes: they were rubbish. TRY HARDER. FEMINISM IS WAITING FOR YOU TO GET IT TOGETHER. The thing that shits me most about this is that, once again, it’s the sisters who have to help the sooky little boys figure out how to be decent human beings. We are not your mothers. WE HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO and we are tired of helping you tidy up your shit.

I have written part of a post on this, but it got a bit upsetting to write. I think I want to pursue it, but perhaps on another day. But I think I need to, because apparently those guys aren’t actually ok with women talking out loud in public. Especially not when those women are disagreeing with them. And me, I aim to disagree.

8tracks: Eleven charming songs

Eleven charming songs. Some of them are serious and some of them are not. I don’t think I’d count any of them as lindy hop songs. But all of them are suitable for dancing the fandango wearing only a marmot after drinking entire bottle of gin (as suggested by @ARPy_ and encouraged by @matchtrick.)

Image from Shorpy: http://www.shorpy.com/node/4782.

(title artist album year length)

Colored Aristocracy – Carolina Chocolate Drops – Colored Aristocracy – 2007 – 2:43

I’m A Little Bluebird – Hogtown Syncopators (Terra Hazelton, Jay Danley, Drew Jureka, James Thomson, Richard Whiteman) – Hogtown Syncopators – 2007 – 4:59

Honeymoon Suite – Suzanne Vega – Nine Objects Of Desire – 1996 – 2:56

Bleezer’s Ice-Cream – Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep – 2010 – 5:17

Pale Moon – Uncle Earl – Going to the Western Slope – 2004 – 3:55

Jalidong – Carolina Chocolate Drops – Colored Aristocracy – 2007 – 3:01

The Train And The River – Jimmy Giuffre Trio – The Sound Of Jazz – 4:46

Love A La Vangarde – Cheba Massolo – Coyazz – 2008 – 1:58

Mardi Gras In Gloucester – The Countdown Quartet – Sadlack’s Stomp – 2004 – 3:42

Dos Amigos, Una Fiesta – The Two Man Gentlemen Band – ¬°Dos Amigos, Una Fiesta! – 2010 – 3:30

Team Zissou – Seu Jorge – The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions – 2005 – 2:32

it’s raining here, a bit

It’s raining a lot in Brisbane, and I’ve finally managed to ascertain the whereabouts of the various family members who’ve been Left Behind while the rest of us fled south. I am now also sure my Brisvegan friends are safe and well. No one is injured or missing, and we southerners are very relieved. Meanwhile, I’ve had a flurry of emails from people I first met in Brisbane, and who are spread out all over the country and world. I think the shocking stories from Queensland have reminded us of each other.

When that man on the 7:30 Report, that Stalwart Australian Man began to weep a little bit as he told us about not being able to stop to help people who were floating away on the roof of their cars or in boats, crying out for help, I wept a little bit as well.

I liked it that he let us see that all that talk about Stalwart Australian Men being stony faced and impervious to emotions was rubbish.

But then I saw a story about fires in … Western Australia? South Australia? where another Australian Man was telling us about how his home and everything he owned had been burnt by fires started by an arsonist, and how he just didn’t know what to do. He was weeping too, but he was wearing dark glasses, so it was hidden. I think that was even more touching.

It has been a hard week for Australians all over the place. But I keep thinking about those folk who live in truly remote communities, where there’re no buildings to be washed away, and no sewers to flood sewage into people’s backyards. I feel sorry for those people, because when the army arrived there, they had their money controlled by the government and nobody let them tell the story about calling out to neighbours to see if they were alright, and we didn’t see the footage of the stranger helping that family rescue their belongings.

I’m trying not to think those sorts of thoughts, but it’s making me angrier and angrier to hear stories about ‘strong’, ‘good’ communities that ‘help each other’ when there’s just as surely child abuse and drugs and violence and so on in those communities as well. But we don’t hear those stories, because these people are all white.

I am trying not to think like that. It’s not helpful.

I like the look of Anna Bligh. She’s turning out to be a fairly awesome leader, politician and all-round rock star. Be patient with each other. That’s what she said. And Kirsty’s right, it is a good thought.

In other news, I spend a lot of time in Ashfield these days. Sometimes I go to Burwood. Sometimes to the city, or perhaps to another neighbouring suburb. But mostly I stay here. I haven’t got a job (yet) (yet?) and I haven’t many prospects. But I don’t much mind. I am feeling healthy and well and have getting a lot of exercise. These are all good things.

Be patient with each other. This is what I think when someone who’s not from Ashfield goes shopping in the veggie shop. Be patient. Don’t take up so much space. Don’t try to make eye contact quite so desperately/aggressively. Take time to make a joke. Help someone reach something. Ashfield isn’t for everyone. The streets are fairly dirty, and the underpass, the one under the train tracks, where the children painted all the pictures and there are photos from the olden days, that underpass floods badly when it rains, and very quickly. And then as it dries out it smells badly.

Be patient with each other. This is a nice thought. I like it as an instruction for timing. For dancing. In swing, you get back there behind the beat. Wait. Don’t rush. Be patient. And let that man finish his solo.

Here, I’m wondering why there just aren’t any women in these bands. It’s like Australian jazz is just one big Bechdel fail. There’s an occasional one singing. Or someone hidden in the brass section. But, mostly, it’s just men.

It’s raining here a bit. Off and on, a clear day here and there, to help us dry things out. But it’s still raining in Brisbane. And there’s more flooding to come. Do be careful, friends.