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April 24, 2010


Posted by dogpossum on April 24, 2010 2:00 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

A few Sydney dancers have recently been running some late night speakeasy events after churchpit on Fridays, and they've been very successful. The venue is small and has pleasing acoustics - the square 'end' of a long, L-shaped room contains the sound (especially when the speaker is positioned on the long wall, playing into the short leg of the L) and leaves the rest of the room at the right noise level for talking and drinking. The long, narrow L shape leaves people squashed pretty close together, and this makes the room feel crowded (because it is) and fun. The drinks are well priced and good - beers, wines, etc for drinkers, top quality soft drinks (san pelegrino, those organic softies, etc) for non-drinkers. I don't know if there're coffees, but there could be. Last night there were cakes as well.
Last night I had a chance to DJ the gig and it was super fun. The organisers are really good to work with - friendly, easy going, relaxed, lots of useful feedback on the music, etc etc. It was like DJing a late night at an exchange, except better because the crowd were relaxed and friendly (rather than hyped and kind of cliquey/show-offy), the organisers were mellow and professional and the sound system was nice.
The music is usually blues or 'slow lindy', with the organisers themselves favouring a soul/funk aesthetic. Because the emphasis is on socialising rather than hardcore dancing, and because the gig follows the churchpit lindy night, there's less pressure to play 'proper' music, and more interest in 'good' music. So it's a fun gig.

This is what I played (title, artist, album, bpm, year, time):

Come Together Ike And Tina Turner Absolutely The Best 80 1998 3:40
Hound Dog Big Mama Thornton Very Best Of 76 2:52
Leave Your Hat On Etta James The Best Of Etta James 85 1973 3:19
Chain Of Fools Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits - Disc 1 116 2:48
I Got What It Takes Koko Taylor I Got What It Takes 72 1975 3:43
3 O'clock In The Morning Blues Ike and Tina Turner Putumayo Presents: Mississippi Blues 64 1969 2:40
My Man's An Undertaker Catherine Russell Cat 106 2006 2:48
My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More Alberta Hunter (acc by Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Fran Wess, Norris Turney, Billy Butler, Gerald Cook, Aaron Bell, Jackie Williams) Amtrak Blues 76 1978 3:49
Sugar Blues Preservation Hall The Hurricane Sessions 61 2007 5:02
Shave 'em Dry Asylum Street Spankers Nasty Novelties 131 1997 4:21
Louisiana Two Step Clifton Chenier Louisiana Blues & Zydeco [Bonus Track] 197 1965 3:49
Built for Comfort Taj Mahal In Progress & In Motion (1965-1998) 98 1998 4:46
It Takes Two to Tango Lester Young and Oscar Peterson Lester Young With the Oscar Peterson Trio 104 6:09
My Sweet Hunk O'Trash Billie Holiday with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra and Louis Armstrong The Complete Original American Decca Recordings (disc 2) 95 1949 3:20

The Clifton Chenier track was really my just taking advantage of an open minded crowd, and didn't work. But it did make people jiggly in their seats, which is good. I <3 zydeco atm, though I know nothing about it.
I tried to play upenergy, fun party music. The first Koko Taylor song is where I got a bit chilled. This wasn't really a crowd interested in slow, sexy dancing. They were more interested in slower, funkier dancing, and that was fine with me. The first block were more what I think of as 'Chicago' blues, though that's not really a very accurate description. From there I got a bit more old school in style, though I played 'new' songs for the most part - no scratchies. I was aiming for dirty, fun lyrics, lots of energy, beerdancing party music. 'Sugar Blues', which is rocking it with blues dancers at exchanges at the moment was a bit too 'serious' for this crowd.
Though Chenier cleared the floor, it was full again by the middle of the next song. I was moving towards a more lindy style for the next DJ, Gunther, who's more comfortable with lindy than blues. Those last couple of songs went down nicely, and they're a couple of my favourites. 'Two to Tango' is one of those long-term favourites, and I really like the Billie/Louis duet 'Sweet hunk of trash'. Holiday's masterful delayed approach to timing is really understood by Armstrong, who hangs back there with her. That feeling of squeezing the very last second out of each beat makes the song feel just a little bit saucier, but also lets the singers make some clever jokes. Comedy is made by timing, and swinging jazz rhythms make for perfect delivery: that long pause that lets the audience begin to figure out the punch line, and then pop! the line.

It was a fun gig, and I really enjoyed doing it. I like going to that event as a punter, as well, even though the late nights are challenging at the end of a busy week.

Posted by dogpossum on April 24, 2010 2:00 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music


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