[d3v0 lifeblog]

A blog of the newly hedonistic d3vo.

Camp NZX 2010

I'm just back this evening from Camp NZX 2010, a swing dancing camp that featured Lindy Hop, Balboa and Blues dancing workshops and social dancing.

Again it was held in the Chosen Valley Christian Camp out of Manukau. This year James and I wanted to get better bunks which meant getting there a bit earlier than last year.

I went up on Thursday to see my aunt and cousins on Waiheke Island. It was cool hanging out over dinner. I got to massage my aunt's Epicondreitous (Tennis Elbow) which was fun, lots of related tissue density to play with.

I met James and Sarin on Friday and we took a hire car to the camp.

Camp was super fun again this year. I did more dancing than ever and had even less sleep.

With two class streams of bal and two of lindy there were lots of classes to choose from. The optional classes from previous years were ditched and the idea of being assigned to a stream was also ditched, it was free for all, do whatever you thought was appropriate.

I did Josh's intermediate bal class where he explained what makes bal bal instead of making it look like blues, also talking about infinity symbols, motions and lilts, which was awesome.

Claudia and Dave where over, which was a surprise after seeing them only last week at the Melbourne Swing Festival. We are very lucky to have them come to NZ, they are such fabulous teachers in general, especially of bal.

They taught a cool class with tricksy pure bal variatons for ultra slow 80-100bpm songs, which previously I had considered blues territory. The 'corners' variation with tripple and lots of closing action is a keeper.

Shob and Andy's class about follows leading in lindy also stood out. The idea that lindy is a converstation isn't much fleshed out on the social floor, so it is good to see somebody teaching and encouraging both dancers to participate in the shape of the music.

There was a move where the follow takes the lead in the second part of a swingout and changes the axis of it. This is pretty fun. If the lead responds back then you get an extra half turn. I had good fun in class practicing this with both Rachel and Melita, although to be honest Melita has a pretty rubbish poker face ;)

For the first time I got invited to invitation only advanced class. There is attrition in any sport and party due to other earlier events keeping other more senior dancers away I got a chance.

Josh was teaching a short and wonderfully little routine. What made it wonderful was not the moves, but the musicality of the variations. In order to produce these variations you needed to follow the jazz timing of the melody instruments, not the percussion instruments.

In jazz this varies from bar to bar and phrase to phrase as musicians pull and push, stretch and shrink their timing away from the regular rhythms of the precussion. This produces all sorts of syncopation effects that I like in jazz because they are stupendously complex.

Dancing to the meandering rhythms of the melody is well hard however.

Scheduling of these weekends always puts the advanced class as the last class, on a Sunday. So after 10 hours sleep in two days and about 25 hours dancing, you get to the advanced class.

This class was also very small, which was awesome, only four of us, two follows and two leads. Barry was the other follow, a tremendously solid fellow for his Auckland scene, the two follows where Melinda and Lotus from Christchurch, also stalwarts of their scene.

Oddly, Melinda, Lotus and myself had been the bunnies at this event three years ago in our first year at the camp, and it was a point of reflection that we had made it into the invite only class.

Up a bit, I said that having four people in an advanced class was awesome. Josh was paid to come from Melbourne for three days to only teach 7 or 8 classes, and this was one of them. Sharing one of these classes with only three other people was pretty fantastic, this is a teacher you need to book about a year in advance and he is not cheap.

I'm using the word awesome, but I'm not being colloquial. The word isn't coloured with only positive connotations, the word isn't about good or bad, it is about the feeling of awe.

Josh danced 7 bars of this awesome routine with Michelle and then schooled us in how to lead and follow this routine. Like any good teacher for senior students, he didn't give any praise when it wasn't deserved. This is good, but Barry and I didn't get a lot of praise.

Josh was attempting to school us from being good dancers into a new level of musicality into being awesome dancers. This process isn't comfortable or easy, it just is.

He was trying to pull us up from one level to a higher one. In some ways I think about this as Josh working the process to try and create some piers one day, but I'm many many years from that.

We got schooled and drilled, went on small learning side bars, scatted rhythms and practiced. There was a tricky jazz step part that went kick-ball-change step scootch step stomp stomp that I had a lot of trouble with.

The leading was very difficult. The song was quiet and you needed to pull and slow, redirect and release this quiet energy from melody-beat to melody-beat whilst dancing your figures.

We had been working away for 45 minutes in the class and I got to a point where I was extremely wound up. At this point we where kind of doing the routine but we were doing it all wrong. We had progressed and where doing the routine less wrong than at the start of the class, but when you don't have it and you are working away at it is a difficult time.

I felt very inside myself in an unhappy and frustrated way.

Gravity based whole body syncopated leading and following takes an immense amount of concentration. There isn't any way to fake it, either you are landing it or you are not.

Slowly you get pulled more and more out of the room and into yourself as your focus pulls to the music and getting your body to do elaborate things. It is slow but it turns out that there is a lot of into that can happen.

My kindly follow Melinda spotted this, took a few seconds and consoled me with a few shushing sounds and a pat on the back. In retrospect I think this was an essential element for me in getting through the class without bursting into tears or some other uncontrolled emotional release.

It was an awesome class, and you have to take awesome classes if you want to be an awesome dancer.

I stayed up super late with the people catching the early shuttle. I inherited the late dj slot and we danced blues till 5am then chatted till 6am.

We were having so much fun we didn't want to stop. It is difficult to get such good dancers together in one place and the experienced dancers recognise this; we wring every last bit out the experience :)

Melbourne Thoughts

Melbourne is clearly a bigger city than I'm used to. Comprised of a gem of a city centre, called the city, that glistens rather than sparkles. It is surrounded by seemingly endless suburbs, many of which have cutesy appeal of their own, with clusters of cute shops catering to the sensibilities of well heeled workers.

The language used is what struck me first this time. The use of superlatives, or rather the subset of superlatives employed; aggressive, unsurpassable claims are bandied about to describe stage shows for example.

The look people give you, the big city blank face. That is quicker here than Wellington. What does that do to you day in and day out? Do you start to feel how your face looks? Do you build over your feelings like last years road surface, with hot ash and a steamroller?

The coffee though is good, and the customer service a clear notch up on Wellington. Got me some fancy red sneakers, good for walking and driving but not much else.

Good customer service in the street shoe store, she spotted me as a kiwi right away, but brought it up slowly. Apparently I have a flat accent, or perhaps I morph on demand, a deep subconscious effort to be accepted?

The card systems are changing, Melbourne is going to a 'snapper' style system to replace Metcard. It has a very stupid name that glistens and drips of committee design and politics. Myki is the name. Retarded.

Different verbs in play, 'touch on', 'touch off'. The Metcard system uses 'validate', so I guess this committee learned something over the last guys.

I'm in a restaurant/ cafe, tapping away, some young guys at an outside table on my left with a few brews, perhaps there are some school holidays? I've got a mocha, trying to compensate for my red-eye flight before dinner with Sean.

There is a glistening political film that I can see coating the city. The billboards that talk about rebuilding projects, stimulus package stuff. It is thin politicing, unsophisticated and at odds with a city trying to have a culture. It is the politics of old men that don't know what it means to try and synergise.

Hard to find internet for sale in a cafe in Elwood, but there are plenty of Organic options, so that is a fair trade in my book.

iPhones are everywhere, but I can't see anybody else tapping away, trying to scratch up some work and bleed over the lines between recreation and a career you want. Wrong suburb, probably too artsy. I'm not yet sold on productivity on these post PC devices.

Had a brief play with an iPad whilst on an errand to purchase forgotten cabling, that binding cartilage between our electrical devices. It was fine, but I'm a touch typist, so I feel like it is half meant for somebody else. A bit heavier than I was expected, but that fancy class screen must weigh a bunch.

The iPad is meant for somebody else, the ungeeked masses, electronic mooks. About time somebody paid them some attention.

I'll have a lazy start to the day tomorrow, a simple start in a month where I have had so much to take in, very stimulating it has been.