Pattern drafting school report

So apparently lindy hoppers don’t want to hear a blow-by-blow account of how to pivot a bust dart into the shoulder seam then convert it into a styleline. Not even when you open with the fact that you get two square metres of blank paper, a sharp pencil, an eraser, two types of rulers, scissors, and masking tape and then go fully sick with some geometry.

WhatEVER, dancers.

Carers’ passes!

Topic: Carers’ Passes
or
Getting parents and carers into workshop weekends

We’ve had a Carers’ Pass at Jazz BANG in Sydney forever, and before that at The Little Big Weekend …basically forever. It’s become almost a staple at all Australian events now.

http://jazzbang.com.au/registration.html#carers

Each time I run a weekend event, I ask for comments and advice from the attending carers.

I use ‘carer’ instead of ‘parent’, because I want this to apply to anyone who’s looking after a dependant person – a baby, a child, an elder, a disabled family member, etc.
The primary goal was to retain dancers who’d gotten on with their lives and had babies after years of dancing. We didn’t want to lose them, their experience, or their $$ :D And a diverse dancing cohort is a healthy dancing cohort.

Hannah Anderson asked in another thread
“Love the carers pass- hadn’t noticed a need for it until I became a carer. Im interested in how you make it work- do the dancers sharing the pass need to dance the same role?”

First off: Diversity matters. And diversity at a management level is so important. People with different lived experiences bring a wider range of skills, knowledge, and priority to your event. Bless. <3 We just tell them to email us when they register. This way we know who's coming as a caring team, and what their particular needs are (they may also need advice about accommodation, contacts for borrowing cots, places for nursing babies, etc). I also find that talking to a real person makes a carer more confident about coming. Then we usually get about 2 or 3 couples max attend. They register for a 'carers' pass' which is the same as one workshop pass (either one day or two days). They then buy tickets to parties individually. We have two streams, and about 50 people in each stream. Part of our branding is that we keep classes small, and offer a 'boutique' experience that's community-minded, and emphasises really good music and really good international teachers. Sort of like an event from the early days (1990s and 2000s), but with really good music, organisational experience, and dancing. :D Our teachers are also prepped with info about these sorts of situations. When the couples talk to us (they may be two parents of the one child, or two mums sharing care of two babbies, or whatever - we've had all sorts and we encourage all combinations), we make sure they realise that only one of them can be in the class at a time (the other is caring for the kids). From here, we let them divide up the day how they like. - Some take alternating classes (the other one walking about with the bab, getting a coffee nearby, or in the class watching*) - Some take half a day each - Some drop in and out as needed (eg if the babby needs breastfeeding, then the nursing parent steps out) When it comes down to the actual day, we let them manage the time as they like. We don't police it. The lead/follow ratio really depends on what role the two carers dance. Most are so keen to dance (and so keen to be out with other humans) they'll do anything. Our workshops and teachers are flexible teachers, so it doesn't end up making a difference who does what. We also find that people swap themselves around in class depending on their feels. eg they may lead a class, then follow a class. We just keep our eyes on things and step in to sort things out if the ratio gets really skewed. The most popular option for single mums has been to take one class in the morning each day, while their child plays with their adult friend at the door. And then they go home for naps. I usually let them have this for free. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. We've also had teachers who are breastfeeding teaching the workshops, and we realised that you can't stick to a tight schedule when a babby needs a feed! So we actually put that in our teachers' contract, and we make it clear to all teachers: we have this many hours, we require you take regular breaks, but you can divide up the hours as you like. eg 15 min warm up session, then 1 hour exercise, then 30 min game, then lunch etc etc. In this situation, two people caring for a child may just take a block of hours between feeds, or the morning, or some other combination dictated by their child's needs. The most adamant feedback we've had is a request for a proper creche: childcare + child-safe space. I'm not sure how to do this, yet. There are insurance issues. And cost issues. Ideally, we'd spread the cost around, increasing pass prices a bit so everyone pays for this. And because we offer deals for lower income earners, we can mitigate the effects of higher ticket prices. *babbies and children are allowed in our class spaces, but they must be supervised at all times by an adult (ie the adult can't be dancing too)

how do you get women leads?

Sydney now has a very strong culture of ‘anyone can lead or follow if they like, and it’s ok if you just want to do one and it happens to align with your gender ID’.

There are a number of reasons for this – a queer swing dance school who also run a big event; women leads on the floor; women teachers who teach as leads; people being publicly intolerant of anti-social behaviour; a growing ‘be good to each other’ discourse in event promotion, etc.
And where I write ‘women’, please include transwomen. I’ve noticed it’s easier for normcore folk to include transmen in their ideas of ‘men’, than it is to include transwomen in their category ‘women’.
It’s also been super important to see how welcoming and supportive our scene has been of people who’ve transitioned while being in the scene. ie they first presented as one gender, then transitioned to another. On the whole, teachers and dancers have been openly supportive, and more importantly, no-big-deal about changing pronouns, etc. It may have been harder for them one-on-one (all new things are tricky), but on the whole, it’s been ok. Not perfect, but ok. More work to do there.

Note: if a scene is ok with women leads and men follows, it is more welcoming to transpeople and queerpeople. Because a scene that has flexible ideas about gender and dance is a more welcoming, safer place.
If my leading has ever helped pave the way for a shy dyke lead or transwoman follow, then I feel very proud. It was worth it.

etc etc

One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed, is that this general trend has been working in concert with peer-motivated anti-sexual-harassment actions. ie women are more likely to say no when a creeper asks them to dance, and they will also step in and check in on other women if they see creepers maccing on them.
There’s also been a scene-wide ‘fuck that; we do not tolerate harassment or assault’ public discussion from teachers (even if the organisational policies haven’t been in place).

And _this_ trend has seen us get a more ethnically diverse cohort of dancers. In part because one of the main creepers was targeting asian women. Boy, did he get his arse handed to him. And because women of colour just get fucked off by carrying the double burden of racism and sexism.

I noticed that once he and his gross mates were absent from events, we saw an increase in men following. It seems that this racist creeper was also intimidating other men _implicitly_. And that the men who liked to follow also liked women who lead (or the women who’d had a gutful of that creeper).

So when we addressed all these issues – sexuality, ethnicity, gender, etc – at the same time, we saw a general improvement in the vibe of parties and classes. People felt more comfortable being themselves.

And then it snowballed, and we saw exponential improvements.

So if your goal is ‘more women leads’, you need to address a range of issues. You’ll get a bunch of lovely good results as a consequence.

But speaking as a woman lead, things that were important for me:
– Teachers who openly said ‘women are leads as well as men’. The importance of this cannot be overstated. I remember the handful of times I’ve heard teachers say it in the last 20 years. But don’t be afraid to be pro-active on this. Not just saying ‘anyone can lead’, but “Women can lead.”

– Teachers saying to me “Don’t ever stop leading.” A woman teacher said this to me quietly one night after class, and it was the most important thing anyone has ever said to me about dancing.

– Seeing women teachers lead socially.

– Seeing other women ask women teachers to lead them socially.

– Having women teachers ask me to dance (and lead)

Things I wish people had done:

– Stepping on students in class who say ‘you’re being the man/boy?!’ with surprise.
I’ve never heard a teacher say this, but it would be solid gold if they said “hey, follows, don’t say this to your partners. It makes them sad.”
I’ve only ever been at two weekend events where no one has said this to me. In 22 years of lindy hop classes and workshops. Each time someone expresses surprise and expects me to justify leading, it wears me down just a little bit. So a) fuck you women follows, and b) teachers, get your students’ backs.

– Never used gendered pronouns in class, or used gendered language and concepts to describe leading.

Things that shat me to tears:
– Male teachers who try to make me try a move as a follow in class, when I’m leading. Sure, it might help my learning, but would you ask a male lead to do this, even if you knew they followed? And also, whatever your norm is, do this thing: treat women leads like they are leaders, not follows who sometimes lead.

– Teachers who kept ‘forgetting’ to use gender neutral language.

– Teachers who use sexy jokes in class, because most of those jokes were heterocentric and/or relied on the idea of a lead being a straight man.

‘real’ tradwives of britain

Ok, so I’m taking the time to go back through this article properly.

1. It’s not very well written, and needs some solid editing. There are random threads that should have been snipped off. eg the bit about paleo diets. What did she want to say there? Was it a thing about the commodification of a mythic ‘essential human past’? Then why not say so?

2. She does not address ethnicity or race in any way. Fail. This is a substantial flaw, because most of the current day multi-generational families, home-businesses, and so on are are marked by class, and by race.

3. She says the ‘tradwives’ trend is dumb, because ‘tradwives’ want to be like the ‘wives’ of the 1950s. She says ‘why not aim to be ‘tradwives’ of the 1300s because it’s more legit?
I am struggling to get on board with this. I’m a fan of things like contraception and not being my lord’s chattel.

4. Her fangirling about the 1300s seems to be a response to a twitter thread defending the word ‘spinster’ as referring to single women who were economically independent that’s recently done the rounds, but which has since proved to be full of shit.
A cleverer response thread was doing the rounds, but I can’t find it right now. So here’s a post about a more accurate etymology of spinster.
The upshot is that it wasn’t that great to be a woman in the 1300s, even one working with her sisters in a shared workspace.

5. She continues, getting to the real meat of her piece: no more laws! They’re harshing our feminist collective mellow!

How, then, can a suburban family with a tiny garden transform their private home into a 14th-century-style household economy? The digital economy offers some help on this front: Pettitt herself extols the virtues of ‘tradwife’ while running a digital business from home. But more could be done to support a blossoming of tradewives (or tradehusbands).

She might have said ‘how can white ladies with white husbands and wee little white kiddies earn money from home?
Well, it’s not going to happen in Australia with our NBN. Or in rural centres in Australia. Or even, increasingly, in our urban centres.
To run an online business you need:
– good, and reliable electricity, and internet infrastructure
– reliable hardware (computers and so on)
– LITERACY – reading and writing – and NUMERACY
– to get that last one, you’ll need to have attended a decent school, to have been able to study at that school (and not stay home to work in your family’s business, or be waylaid by unwanted pregnancies or caring for other family members)
– you’ll need to have reproductive independence: access to safe and affordable contraception.
…and so on.

That’s all before we get to the actual business part of the business. ie the things you make, and the way you run your enterprise.

[edit]WE KNOW that reducing poverty is directly tied to the education and reproductive independence of women and girls. Get girls reading, get them on the pill (or otherwise able to control when and how they have babies), and they have more social and economic power. This is, clearly, not as simple as I make it sound. But we know that poverty in general is a direct result of capitalist patriarchy.[/]

But this lady is pretty sure it’s that interfering government getting in the way of nice white ladies forming child care collectives.

My DOOD. That’s some neoliberal bullshit right there.

She also thinks that it’d help to get rid of other forms of pesky government interference: the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the one she latches onto.

She also has a thing about the restrictions of residential and commercial property use. It should be done away with! And why not?! Haven’t we all wanted a commercial meatpacker next door, or panel beaters across the street?

…at this point, I’m wondering if she’ll start talking about sex work, which seems the logical extension of her point: safe, collective spaces run by women, enabling them to work off the streets, and control their own incomes (and bodies).
But she doesn’t go there. She’s thinking about nice middle class white lady internet businesses.

This bit is just plain bucolic:

And surely it is not beyond the wit of policy wonks to come up with a means for tradewives to cooperate on collectives such as craft or market gardening, which could be done in the company of small children.

Such whimsy.
6. She ends by asking:

But if we can build on the emancipatory desires of women since the 1960s, taking our inspiration not from the 1950s but the 1350s, perhaps we could rethink the split between home and work and support a rebirth of the far older tradition of ‘tradewives’. We might even find this brings with it a renaissance of community connection and social capital across our struggling villages and small towns.

Ok, so we’re going to do some feminist deconstruction of capitalism and industrialisation. Sure. How do we do that, fren?

I’m not sure what she means, exactly when she talks about ‘community connection’ and ‘social capital’. She’s pretty sure she wants it, but what does she _mean_? Neighbours talking to each other? A return of incumbent lords and serfs with everyone knowing their place?
It’s not a good piece, and I don’t think she makes any good points. Besides a weak-sauce dismissal of 1950s ‘housewifery’.

She has not looked into the everyday lives of women who _do_ work from home.
She provides no real evidence that ‘tradwives’ is even a thing. Yes, there are lots of blogs by women deciding to stay home and knit sweaters for their home schooled kiddies. But most of them have husbands in very well paid jobs. And most of them are white living in north america. And there’s a hashtag. But I’m going to need more research, mate.

She doesn’t look at the live of migrant women in Britain working in cosy ‘domestic collectives’ supplying garments for the garment trade, doing phone sex (or sex work generally) off-site, or flogging cleaning products for Amway. There certainly aren’t any brown women in her stories, and there aren’t any already struggling with poverty and racism.

So, in sum, I declare this article:
Rubbish.

Jazz fandom in Australia failing again

I’m part of the AUSTRALIAN JAZZ LOVERS fb page, all-caps because ok boomer. It’s generally a pretty unpleasant place to be, because it’s sexist, racist, homophobic, and generally full of shit.

I did notice recently that members of the group’s community had booked two women from the Shake em Up Jazz Band for the Australian Jazz Convention (an event that was first held in my own suburb of Ashfield, Sydney in 1948). But even that couldn’t convince me to go to this whitest of white man events.

I was really surprised to see this on their page today:

The logo for the 2019 Australian Jazz Convention shows a line drawing outline of seven musicians. It seems wrong that, especially when two women musicians from New Orleans were special guests, all the musos shown in the official logo are men – no women in the band. I didn’t notice on the badge – too small – but it was obvious to me on the large posters in the Albury Club on New Year’s Eve.

(link)

There was nothing but shitposting for this comment. And because I am bed-ridden and bored in the Swedish winter, I responded. Of course.

Ken Farmer wrote at one point in the thread:

Ken Farmer But it IS gender specific. I’m sure the artist didn’t think, ‘I’ll be gender specific: men only’, but has done this without thinking. This is culturally imbedded prejudice, stuff that happens without thought and is usually not noticed. It takes time to change, and we must all try to notice, and remark on it when we do.

And I agreed. And I pulled out this reply:

Agree.

To do an old school textual analysis of why the figures in this image ‘read’ masculine:

  • The figures’ ‘hair’, even in silhouette looks ‘short’. This isn’t _always_ a masculine trait, but it is _commonly_ associated with men and masculinity in white Australian culture;
  • The musculature of the figures, particularly around the shoulders, reads ‘masculine’ (broader than a woman’s), another characteristic which isn’t _always_ masculine, but is often used to denote or depict masculinity in white Australia;
  • One of the figures is wearing a brimmed hat, more particularly, the type of hat that men wore in the ‘jazz’ and ‘swing’ eras, and is preferred by fans of this type of music. It’s also coded ‘masculine’ by white Australian culture, but also be a wealth of images depicting ‘jazz’ culture and masculinity;
  • There are no vocalists or singers in the image. In the modern jazz world most women participate in jazz as singers. Again, a gendered and not particularly great trend (because women and girls are discouraged from playing instruments by various social factors). But it does suggest that because there are no ‘vocalists’ in this image, singers and vocalists (women) are not important enough to draw in a logo.

As someone points out elsewhere in this thread, it’s a common trend for an (inexperienced) designer to use iconic photos as source material for a simplified human image. The repetition of this theme – that we can use iconic photos of humans playing instruments, all of whom are men – repeats the idea that ‘all humans who play jazz are men’. It’s not said explicitly, but it’s implied through this repetition. The point that no one has commented on this before, and that so few people are supporting Ken’s original observations suggests that the primary audience for this image accept this normalised idea of jazz = masculine.

It might not seem important to not have figures clearly identified as ‘women’ or ‘girls’ or even anyone who is not an adult man. But a logo is, literally, an abstracted image designed to represent a whole brand. In this case, the logo is intended to be a quick way to identify a flyer or picture or film or website or facebook group as ‘about the australian jazz convention’.

We can make further observations about the logo and what it means by where we see it in context.
The Australian jazz scene (particularly this part of the jazz scene) is predominantly older, white, and dominated by men. If you keep an eye on the feeds from various Australian jazz fan pages on fb, you’ll see that 99.9% of photos of musicians, comments by fans, and fb posts are by men or featuring women. There are only very occasionally pictures of women. A recent post about ‘banjo women’ was notable because it was so unusual to see women – _older_ women! – featured on the page, let alone playing instruments together in a group!

I was actually stunned to see the women from the Shake em Up Jazz Band featured in ads for the event. They are a hardcore feminist jazz band, who also have serious jazz chops. They are incredible musicians and hardcore professional arse kickers. Frankly, I was surprised to see them associated with an event like this. I last saw them in the Swedish countryside at a huge jazz dance event, where they spoke directly about dealing with sexist old white men in the jazz world.

But. These two rare images of women in jazz on this page, and associated with this event made me consider this event as something I might like to go to.

However, the responses (all of whom are by men, but three) in this thread have reinforced the event’s image as not only male dominated, but also actively sexist.

This particular comment was openly sexist and derogatory to women and girls, and the lack of condemnation for this comment by other posters further suggests that this place (this event) not only devalues women, but supports and endorses sexist and sexualised derision of women.

At a later point in the discussion, a woman noted:

I’m not sure who Shaye or Marla are/were but presenting an image of Jazz as all male certainly perpetuates the myth that only men can play it.

And I replied:

For your listening and viewing pleasure, these two artists are part of the Shake Em Up Jazz Band: https://www.shakeemupjazzband.com/

This band draws on some of the best and most influential modern new orleans jazz bands for its membership. All of whom are women. They are truly incredible live – see them if you can.
They are also openly feminist, and engage with issues of race and ethnicity, motherhood and professional musicianship. Their album ‘A woman’s place’ makes this very clear: https://shakeemup.bandcamp.com/album/a-womans-place

They write in the notes to that album (source):
With A Woman’s Place, New Orleans-based Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band pays tribute to women composers and lyricists. We put this album together with the intention to celebrate these artists and their contributions to the music we love and play daily. The album title, an abbreviation of bassist Vivien Garry’s composition “A Woman’s Place is in the Groove” suggests a more inclusive history of jazz, reminding us that as progenitors of early 20th century music the legacy of women extends well beyond performing, but also includes arranging, composing and influencing this music since its earliest days.

Lovie Austin and Lil’ Hardin Armstrong were both pianists with formal music education who were integral to the Chicago jazz scene of the 1920s. Hardin played piano and arranged for both King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and Louis’ Hot Fives and Sevens. She contributed some of the most memorable tunes of those sessions, two of which are presented here: “Skid-Dat-De-Dat” and “My Heart,” the very first recording made by the Hot Five in 1925.
Cora “Lovie” Austin, perhaps best known for writing the Bessie Smith hit “Down Hearted Blues,” can be heard on recordings accompanying many of the great early blues singers, notably Ethel Waters, Ma Rainy, Ida Cox, and Alberta Hunter. Austin’s own recording unit, the Blues Serenaders, included various prominent Chicago jazz musicians, among them New Orleanians Johnny Dodds, Kid Ory, Jimmie Noone, and Tommy Ladnier. Represented in this album are “Charleston Mad” and “Traveling Blues,” a variation on the New Orleans warhorse “Weary Blues.”
The Boswell Sisters (Martha, Connee and “Vet”) who are well-remembered for their seamless and intricate vocal harmonies, are represented here with their original “Puttin’ it On,” which features compositional elements such as shifting tonalities, tempo changes, and contrasting sections that make Boswell Sister records so enthralling.
Lyricists are also represented on this album: Lucy Fletcher contributed the lyrics to Clarence Williams’ “Sugar Blues,” while vocalist Alberta Hunter is credited with the music and lyrics to “The Love I Have for You.” Both Lovie Austin and Lil’ Hardin accompanied Hunter in Chicago during the 1920s.

Ragtime composer May Aufderheide, who wrote “The Thriller,” “Blue Ribbon Rag” and “Buzzer Rag,” among others, is represented here with “Dusty Rag,” a tune known to many revivalists through Bunk Johnson.

“In The Gloaming” is the oldest tune on this album (1877). Meta Orred wrote the lyrics of this tune, which were originally a poem. The music was composed by Annie Fortescue Harrison.

Elizabeth Cotten is better known to folk music audiences, though her song “Freight Train” has made its way into jazz performances throughout the years, including a recording by Preservation Hall. Represented on this album, “Shake Sugaree” was written in her later years with the help of her grandchildren.

Although we know little about the life of blues singer Geeshie Wiley, her name is familiar to fans of early blues and especially among collectors of 78 RPM records. “Last Kind Words Blues” — with guitar accompaniment by Elvie Thomas — is one of only six sides she made for Paramount Records between 1930 and 1931. Adding to the allure of the original performance is the fact that only three copies of the original 78 record are known to exist.

Rather than being the impossible task of an exhaustive survey of early 20th century American female composers and lyricists, this album is much more intended to be a celebration of these songs and the women who created them, and more could be said and learned about each of these songs and artists.

We hope you enjoy listening to A Woman’s Place as much as we enjoyed making it.
– Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band, 2018

Ease is a matter of privilege

“‘The difficulty is the point’: teaching spoon-fed students how to really read” by Tegan Bennett Daylight

I gave up a career in academia about ten years ago. It was a difficult decision; i love teaching, and i’d loved working in a place all about thinking. But over the previous ten years i’d been working in universities in Qld, Vic, and NSW, things had changed. Some changes were good – student cohorts had burst into diversity and were a heap more interesting. Some changes were not – the pay had gotten shit, and we couldn’t give students the contact hours or libraries or time they needed.

This article is good. It echoes some of the things i saw. But at the same time, it’s bad. I remember a moment i had teaching intro cultural studies at VU. The first generation of families to finish high school, let alone go to uni. Mothers, refugees, kids who’d used TAFE to get into the university system. So different to the privileged young people at UniMelb or UQ I’d taught.
With these students i noticed i was suddenly talking about critical thinking as a tool for dismantling disempowerment. I could see them leap onto Stuart Hall – black, migrant, working class – and his thinking as a weapon. They ate him up. They saw how he was useful to their lives in the working class suburbs of western Melbourne.

I’ve never seen students work as hard as these. Nothing they were doing was easy.

Ways climate change is affecting lindy hop in Australia

– We don’t run events in January and February as it’s too physically hot, and December is on the way out.
This means that we’ll lose a quarter of the calendar year for big weekend events;

– Musicians can’t make gigs because they’ve lost their homes in bushfires.
This means that our world standard jazz scene is losing talent and experience, and dancers are losing potential bands and musicians;

– Bushfire smoke reduces air quality to the point where it’s dangerous to dance in unfiltered air.
This means that regular classes are cancelled, and dancers must reduce practice schedules and venues;

– Classes are cancelled during heat waves.
This means that interruptions to the class program loses students, and reduces the number (and diversity) of people in the scene;

– Public transport (ferries) is cancelled due to smoke haze.
This means that people need to drive to class, or find other modes of transport;

– We can no longer use spaces that don’t have air conditioning.
This means that we have to move into more expensive venues, often ones working within Clubs Australia with gambling and precarious hire arrangements, and we lose our smaller local venue relationships.

– Flights are cancelled because of extreme storms or reduced visibility.
This means that dancers and musicians have their flights rescheduled so they miss events. This in turn reduces numbers at events, band cancellations, and costs attendees in lost registration fees and missed competitions.

– Bushfires and dust storms decrease the lifespan of sound equipment.
This means that gear needs to be stored in safer (more expensive) storage, and needs to be replaced more often, draining the coffers of organisers and societies.