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Deep In Vogue: an introduction to ballroom culture and modern voguing
03.08.2013
08:42 am
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Throwing down at Vogue Knights, NYC
 
I have been a bit slack with my Notes column of late, and here’s the reason why.

I love voguing (and you should know this by now.) I love the music, the dancing, the style, the language, the queens (both butch and femme), the battling, the videos, the full length films, the drama, the energy, the past, the present and the future. Voguing and Ballroom culture a very significant and valuable part of the LGBT landscape, the serves to teach children self-respect and personal growth, and gives them a space to be accepted, and to thrive, in.

I love voguing so much that I have written a in-depth introduction to the culture for Boing Boing. Funny as it may seem, this wasn’t an easy piece for me to write—I started and scrapped 3 drafts, which just kept getting longer and longer—but I am happy with this one. There’s quite a lot of material that I just didn’t have the space to include in this piece, and my thoughts are now quite seriously turning towards a book documenting the culture. It really is that rich.

Like hip hop, ballroom encompasses many different elements of artistic expression, from music and language to clothes and design, and, of course, dance. It deals directly with some of society’s most controversial issues, namely sexuality, race, class, gender roles and expression, beauty modes, self-definition and competition. It doesn’t do this in the polemical style we may be used to from punk and political hip-hop, however, where topics are theorised and discussed. In ballroom these issues are lived and experienced, as a vast number of those taking part in this underground scene are transgender, working class, people of colour.

Ballroom includes society’s most marginalised: minorities within minorities within minorities, for whom voguing and ballroom culture is an important resource. In a world where they have been rejected, ballroom not only accepts these people for who they are, it celebrates them, in a variety of unique and different categories. The competitive, prize-winning aspect of ballroom gives some participants a sense of worth lacking in the “real” world (not to mention money), and the familial structure of the “houses”—mother, father, sister, brother—often acts as a real surrogate, as many in this world have been disowned by their biological families.

Here, voguing is not just a dance, and ballroom is not just a genre. It’s a way of life that brings pride, peer recognition and self-respect. The genre of music is one thing, but the culture which surrounds it is another; and both are intricately tied into one another.

...

To quote the late, great Willi Ninja, who is perhaps the greatest voguer the world has yet seen, voguing is like a challenge dance: instead of fighting you take it out on the dancefloor. Depending on who you ask, this uniquely stylised dance form arose either amongst the inmates of Ryker’s Island, or at gay Harlem dance parties in the sixties (it’s most probably a mixture of both). Voguing got its name from Vogue magazine, as the competing dancers would flip to pictures of models posing, and imitate them, trying to outdo each other in the process. As it developed the dancers became quicker and more agile, and incorporated other forms of dance such as waacking (high speed arm movements and hand gestures) and body popping (though some say that voguing actually pre-dates popping, and was itself an influence on the original b-boys). Fast forward to 2013 and voguing has come a long way, progressing through the styles of old way, new way, femme and dramatics, to today’s almost hyperactive, turbocharged version of the dance. Although key elements of old way voguing remain (posing, “face”), a much more frantic and stylised choreography takes precedence, with signature moves such as the dip (when a dancer falls flat on their back), the duck walk and hair control (using long hair as stylistic element of the dance, in essence whipping it back and forth).

There’s more to vogue culture than just the dancing and the dressing up, and if you have seen Paris Is Burning you only know the very tip of this glittering iceberg. If you want to know more, read the rest of Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style here.

To accompany the piece, here is a 13 minute dj mix I put together of “cunt” tracks, “cunt” meaning “fabulous” in the world of Ballroom. Yes, the c-bomb gets dropped quite a lot in this mix, so you’re getting a warning: it’s NSFW!

CVNT TR4XXX 13min Cunty Minimix for #FEELINGS
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.08.2013
08:42 am
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A song of praise to the future: John Butler’s new speculative animation ‘Acrohym’
03.07.2013
07:49 pm
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For twenty-years, artist John Butler has been the driving talent behind an incredible array of short animated films and science-fiction series. As one half of the Butler Brothers, John has produced, written and animated original, speculative fictions that examine the nature of our relationship with Government, Military and Corporations through technology.

Animations such as Eden, The Ethical Governor, T.R.I.A.G.E. and Unmanned have reinforced John’s dystopian view of the world, where technology is primarily developed as a means of control, war and exploitation.

The future being shaped by computer technology tends more towards a world of anonymous depots, owned by companies like Amazon, where whey-faced workers trudge endless miles through giant product mazes, being told what to do and how long they have to do it by their own personal navigational computer—rather than the much vaunted promise of personal liberation.

‘I don’t think we’re doomed,’ says Butler, ‘But we are stuck with it. I think the self checkouts in supermarkets indicate where we are going, towards a cybernetic transaction space. They should give us a discount since we’re doing all the work now.’

Butler’s latest animation Acrohym is a satirical ‘song of praise’ to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency):

...the most exciting arts commissioning agency in the world today.

Acrohym stands for ‘Advanced, Central, Research, Organization, High-Yield, Markets.’ The kind of buzz words promoted by PR reps and technocrats, who are currently destroying language and democracy.

Butler is fascinated by this and the way in which organizations like DARPA, have become like art/science patrons developing new technologies for the military, while at the same time creating their own language.

‘I liked the idea that DARPA seemed to think of cool acronyms first and work backwards from that. Things like the FANG (Fast, Adaptble, Next-Generation Ground vehicle) challenge, the Triple Target Terminator (T3) and the Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition ( MAHEM). They ruthlessly torture language to create a new form of technocratic poetry.

‘I think weapons design attracts the brightest minds and can draw on limitless funding, so it’s no wonder they make such fascinating stuff. It is an art form of sorts, increasingly so, as the systems become more baroque and dysfunctional, like architectural follies.

‘Form Follows Funding is the first Law of Procurement.

‘I think Defense is the seedbed of all research, but it eventually trickles down to the civil sphere. If private enterprise had created the internet, it would be a lot of bike couriers with USB sticks. Only a military project could have had such a long range investment strategy.’

John is working on his next project, but I wanted to know when he would be makinga full length feature film?

‘As soon as I’ve secured Ministry of Defense funding.’

More of Butler Brothers’ work here
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

John Butler: ‘T.R.I.A.G.E.’


John Butler: ‘The Ethical Governor’


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.07.2013
07:49 pm
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‘Blue Monday’ is 30 years old today: So let’s listen to Liverpool’s Double Echo instead
03.07.2013
04:21 pm
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Image from Double Echo’s Phantomime release

Even though the hugely influential single was released 30 years ago today, and as much as I love it, there’s not a lot more you can say about “Blue Monday” that hasn’t already been said.

So instead, I would like to take this oportunity to point fans of New Order in the direction of something new that they might like, namely Liverpool-based doom pop outfit Double Echo. Yes, it may sound a little familiar, but who cares when it sounds this good?

I have featured Double Echo, and their brand of early-Cure-meets-John Maus gothic spaciness on DM before, and if you want more (including Bandcamp track links) then go here.

The band have just put out the new song “Plain Sight” via their Bandcamp page, and to accompany it, here’s a strange but inriguing video that sits somewhere between sci-fi and retro BBC tv drama. You can find more info on Double Echo on their Facebook page.

Double Echo “Plain Sight”
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.07.2013
04:21 pm
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Bleecker Bob’s is closing: Legendary record store to be replaced by frozen yogurt chain store
03.07.2013
03:52 pm
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Bob Plotnik (aka Bleecker Bob).

After a year of speculation and rumors, it’s official: Bleecker Bob’s, New York City’s most loved and hated record store, is closing. It will be replaced by a Froyo outlet in May 2013. Soon, instead of rare punk 45s, you’ll have your choice of “sprinkles with that?” or a shot of protein powder with your 32 ounce container of probiotic bacteria. It seems progress means a total loss of identity in the once mighty Manhattan.

This is from Bleecker Bob’s Facebook page:

looks like the new tenant has signed the lease. we’ve heard they want to be open by June 1. it will take probably around 2 months to get work permits for the massive remodeling job they’ll need to do so we’re figuring we should be open until May 2013!!
—-get ready for another chain of self serve yogurt/coffee/hot chocolate cafes NYC!!”

Bleecker Bob’s opened in 1968 as Village Oldies Records. In the mid-70s, as Bleecker Bob’s (named after its owner, ex-lawyer Bob Plotnik), it became a Mecca for people seeking the latest punk rock 45s and albums. Plotnik’s surly attitude, a borderline parody of the most tightly-wound rude New Yorker, added a certain manic energy that melded perfectly with the edgy music playing on the sound system. Imagine Johnny Rotten as a fat, pissed-off Jew and you might get a feel for Plotnik’s schtick. I could never tell if Bob was genuinely nuts or just playing nuts. He did usually follow his highly caffeinated rants with a sheepish smile. Whatever the case, his gruffness turned off a good portion of his customers. I knew plenty of people who refused to shop at his store, but I wouldn’t allow his vibes to keep me away from the thousands of records pouring in every month, most of which were D.I.Y singles from all over the planet. If dealing with Bob was part of the price of doing business with the guy, I didn’t mind. I wanted the vinyl!

When punk and disco hit the scene, people who had stopped buying records started again with real passion. I know I did. Bob’s shop was packed in the late ‘70s—lines snaking out the door and Bob barking at people to keep it moving. If you browsed too long without buying, you were out of there. It was Bob’s good fortune that Yelp didn’t exist at the time.

For a lot of musicians, Bob’s place was not only a place to buy records, it was a place to sell your own. At the height of the punk era, Bob was always interested in new stuff from new bands and would pay cash for a stack of D.I.Y. 45s. Between buying and selling, the store was a meeting place for rockers from all over the world. It wasn’t unusual to run into Stiv Bators, Joey Ramone or Billy Idol thumbing through the racks.

One day while visiting Bob’s, I found around 50 copies of my latest single sitting on the counter. These were records that I paid to have pressed with my own money. The distributor had just sold them to Bob for cash. I never got an accounting for that sale. The distributor pocketed the money for himself. If you think major labels are the ultimate rip-offs, you haven’t had the experience of working with indies. I later mentioned it to Bob and he laughed. “It happens all the time,” he said. I didn’t find it funny.

In recent years, due to health issues, Plotnik passed the day-to-day activities of running the store to his management team. The place somehow managed to survive without its resident bully or the help of a music movement like punk to fuel record sales.

In the annals of great record stores, Bleecker Bob’s will always stand tall. Ironically, at a time when vinyl sales are on the rise, one of the pioneers of the indie record scene is closing. Another casualty of escalating rent. Thanks to an unfriendly environment for independent business in New York City, we won’t have Bleecker Bob to kick us around anymore.

Hazel Sheffield and Emily Judem’s For The Records is a bittersweet tribute to Bleecker Bob’s record store and the man who nurtured it for over four decades.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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03.07.2013
03:52 pm
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Biz Markie puzzle!
03.07.2013
03:51 pm
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Oh come on, you know you want this Biz Markie puzzle from the folks over at Get On Down.

As far as I’m concerned, nobody beats the Biz, but if he ain’t what you need, they got other hip-hop puzzles, too.

Via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley
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03.07.2013
03:51 pm
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‘Hot Lust in Space’: Fictional magazine covers from the newsstand scene in ‘Blade Runner’
03.07.2013
02:52 pm
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What you’re looking at are the magazine covers that appeared in the background of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner during the newsstand scene.

The covers were created back in 1980 by production artist and illustrator, Tom Southwell.
 
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Via WFMU on Twitter and Odios

Posted by Tara McGinley
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03.07.2013
02:52 pm
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Punk roots: Television, with Richard Hell, rehearsing in downtown NYC, 1974
03.07.2013
01:56 pm
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Here’s some cool footage of an early incarnation of Television, with Richard Hell, rehearsing at Terry Ork’s loft in 1974.

Terry Ork’s loft was a safe house for unsafe music. With money he made working at my favorite store devoted to the movies, the long gone Cinemabilia, Ork funded one of the few really great DIY labels to come out of New York City, Ork Records. Releasing 45rpm records by Television, Alex Chilton, Mick Farren, The Feelies and The Marbles, among others, Ork had a great feel for what made Manhattan’s downtown music scene special.

I would go to Cinemabilia to thumb through the movie books, magazines and posters. I really loved the place and I grew to really like Ork. We’d shoot the shit on film. I knew him as, a film geek. Although I was a musician, with a decidedly punk outlook, I had no idea that Terry had an indie label until one day when I was in Cinemabilia he handed me a record with the Ork label on it. The record was a single by Television called “Little Johnny Jewel” and it occupied both sides of the seven inch vinyl. My already high esteem for Mr. Ork escalated into the stratosphere.

Update 3/8: longer, better.

Billy Ficca: drums    Richard Hell: bass    Richard Lloyd: guitar   Tom Verlaine: guitar
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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03.07.2013
01:56 pm
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‘GENIUS IS PAIN!’: National Lampoon’s ‘Magical Misery Tour,’ the best John Lennon parody, EVER
03.07.2013
12:56 pm
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Actually this isn’t a parody so much as it’s satire. National Lampoon editor Tony Hendra used actual quotes from John Lennon’s infamous 1970 Rolling Stone interview with Jann Wenner (later published as Lennon Remembers) for this hysterical bit.

At the time of Lennon’s Rolling Stone sitting he was undergoing Primal Scream therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov and he really let it rip, shitting on his own fans, Mick Jagger, Paul and Linda McCartney and several others. All Hendra did was handpick the best parts and arrange them into lyrics. Still as funny today as when it was released on the classic Radio Dinner LP in 1972.

Hendra (who played Spinal Tap’s manager) does the boffo Lennon impersonation here, razzing the former Beatle’s very public bitching and moaning. The music’s by Chris Cerf and that’s Melissa Manchester making a cameo appearance as Yoko at the very end.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.07.2013
12:56 pm
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‘Nuggets’ on video: Sixties garage rock, proto-punk megapost (Part 1)
03.07.2013
11:22 am
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The other day I was listening to Lenny Kaye’s immortal Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 box set and it occurred to me that there must be YouTube clips of many of the groups represented there, even ones you might not expect. Sure enough, this was the case. Not everything on the Nuggets box can be found there, but what is available is a great treat.

Here’s the original album, or at least what I could find of it. I highly recommend toking up and hooking up your computer to your HDTV for these and rocking out. Big fun.

The Electric Prunes miming to “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” on American Bandstand:
 

 
The Standells do “Dirty Water” on The Mike Douglas Show, 1966
 

 
Quite a bit more “Nuggets” after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.07.2013
11:22 am
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In case you’ve never smelled weed over the Internet: Paul & Linda McCartney puff with David Gilmour
03.07.2013
07:53 am
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Taken at UK’s Knebworth Fair in 1976, The Rolling Stones headlined—Paul, Linda, and David probably remembered none of it. Totally worth it for the most epic druggy picture in the universe!

Posted by Amber Frost
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03.07.2013
07:53 am
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