Category Archives: music

Seduction by song

I don’t think I’ve ever seduced anyone with music before, but I can imagine handing over a music player and telling someone to listen closely to the lyrics of this song.


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Dancing to non-native music

Some people argue that the type of music being danced to is integral to the dance. These people believe that the core of the dance is directly related to the music that is happening. I disagree. I think that for most dances that are codified well enough to be a separate dance, the music playing is unimportant. I can still look at it and know what dance it might be. Consider the following:

These videos  are some identifiable dance: tango, balboa; being done to a song that doesn’t really fit the style. It is certainly not the most natural thing to be doing, but it is clear that it works out for those people. The dance style allows both dancers to come to a place where they can interpret the music together smoothly. I recently spent some time learning yet another dance style. Despite my history of dancing, there was plenty of time being awkward and on the wrong foot. To me it is understandable to try to do a dance that I know to a song that doesn’t quite fit, than to try to poorly do the dance that does fit.

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Music collection.

A year ago (possibly longer) I wrote as a part of a dating profile

I do not have as close a relationship with music as lots of people I know. I like a little of everything and have tastes that can best be defined as eclectic. Pandora suggests that I like “breathy female vocals”. I have decided the soundtrack to “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is way too beautiful.

I feel that in a lot of ways this still holds true. I’ll get into conversations about music and be totally ignorant of a song, or artist, or more commonly that a song belongs to a particular artist. Yet I’ve spent lots of time learning lately about what makes something blues music. What makes a song one genre or the other.

And then we come to my point of pride: my collection of music. I spend time listening to lots and lots of bad and mediocre songs to find the few diamonds in the rough. The few times I’ve taken the opportunity to play parts of my curated collection the response has been astoundingly positive. This causes me all sorts of pride. I like having my taste praise, especially because I have put forward quite a bit of work in developing it.

All that being said, this is today’s favorite new discovery.

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Buried physical memories

I took capoeira from very late 2008 to June of 2010 when I moved away from California. I knew where the capoeira group in NYC was. I knew that I could join other groups, but I didn’t. I left capoeira  in California. I left it because despite the beauty and how much I loved it, it also hurt me. Love and hurt were no longer in equal measure, but hurt was greater. After a long break, I’m returning.

My new group requires that everyone new to the group must go through an absolute beginners class. It was a humbling experience. Things that I once was good at were now beyond my ability. I knew I was too weak, but what I didn’t expect was to have a jumble of memories. Just enough to make it familiar when I finally got it right, but not enough to make the journey to right any shorter or easier.

Now because of my schedule I attend an all levels class. I’m clearly the newest. Clearly the weakest. The only one who has not been through a batizado. The only one without a nom de guerra. I am constantly asked to do movements that were challenging for me when I left. Things I was still trying to perfect. Today my teacher suggested that I do a cartwheel without hands. Fear took a seat deep in my abdomen, and I refused. I could once, but I doubt that I could now. Maybe again. Maybe again soon.

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Social, Partner, Dancing

I made a point to break down to the people that I taught this past weekend that blues is a social partner dance, and that I thought that each of those was it’s own complete concept.

Social – we go out to where there are other people. We mingle and make friends. Our classes have us rotate so we get to know how to dance with many others and so we get to know the  others we might dance with later.

Partner – I like to think that most of the leading and following technique falls here. This is where we find connection, and follower’s physics, and the tacit agreements. A lot of classes give this the lightest of service, and I want to make sure that I always have some part of my classes address this.

Dancing – this is probably the part that is the hardest to teach. It shares a lot of techniques with partnering, but unless there is an intention to dance to music, I don’t think people are learning dance, but instead learning movement.

I think that all of these elements need to be balance. The pull between partnering and dancing is sometimes the hardest to get right, and the sweetest to hit when you make it.

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Filed under art, blues dance, community, following, leading, learning, music, socialization, teaching

Music project 3

So I was in a car for many hours and I was in charge of music. The driver and I got to talking about a very weird song that I have. She mentioned how nice it would be as a fusion song for her scene, if only it didn’t have a strange interlude every so often. I liked the idea, so I started to edit it there in the car.

She asked me mid-project what it was that I was doing with the songs that I spent all this time editing. It seems that I am enjoying this mostly for the intrinsic pleasure of the learning and having a discrete finalized product.

Now it seems that I am disseminating the songs that I have edited quite heavily. I finished editing the song in the car, and gave it to my friend. She occasionally dj’s in her home scene and is happy to have it to play. Before we left, I promised a friend a copy of a song that I edited before because I felt it was similar to what she was playing. 

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Problematic Lyrics

Not too long ago someone asked if DJ’s should not be playing songs that mention gun violence following a lot of media attention to such violence. My gut reaction is of course not. We should not be censoring expression just because it might make someone uncomfortable.

However, I have begun to curate and maintain a collection of music. Mostly for my own pleasure. Partially for dancing to. Even more partially for playing for other people to dance to. There are songs in my collection that I really like. I enjoy them for various reasons. Some of them, those reasons completely exclude the lyrics.

I have a hard time with songs that have lyrics that are particularly sexist. Cold Turkey, a cool dancable fusion or crossover piece is a great example. I love the instrumentation, particularly the rhythm section. I think Anthony David’s voice is hot. The lyrics however:

Cold turkey, you can’t expect me to quit, do you baby?
Cold turkey, feelings don’t go away so easy
Just a little more time and I swear I’ll leave you alone
But tonight I got this jones coming down

It’s 3 o’clock and I woke up with the shakes
So I called you up for the remedy
I know I woke ya, get on up I’m coming over
And don’t be acting like you don’t remember me

This is how the song begins. This man isn’t over a relationship that has ended, calls his ex at three in the morning and demands that she wake up because he is going to be there. Not only that, but he’s clearly not welcome. In the background of the song, there are voices like a phone call, making it clear that she has deleted his number.This song suggests that it is ok for this man to go over to the house of a woman who doesn’t want him around. That makes me uncomfortable. Yet I love to dance to it. I love when it comes on even though the lyrics creep me out.

In my collection there’s another offender:

When she leaves
She’s just asking
To be followed
When she walks out
All she wants is
To be lead
All my boys say
She’s just asking for it
And I aint sayin’ nothing
She couldn’t care less
Wearing that dress

Do I even need to explain why this might be problematic? Catchy catchy song though.

Now I have to reconcile how much I want to dance to these songs with how icky they make me feel. If I am playing music, should I play them because everything else about them is great, and dancers so rarely listen to the lyrics? If I start to keep some of my songs out of rotation where do I draw the line. Does that awesome song about a woman murdering her husbands count?

I wish that I lived in a world where a song like that was met with shock and disgust rather than being totally normal.

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