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The ‘Acid Train’ will blow your brain!
04.30.2013
12:26 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Dance
Music

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Today’s dose of dance music silliness comes via Belgium, and New Beat act The Beat Club, with the video for their 1989 track “Acid Train”. It’s catchy, it’s fun and the video looks like it was made on a hijacked porno set. Come to think of it, the lingerie models were probably thrown in as part of the deal.

The tinny lead synth riff isn’t even the real ear worm here, that award goes to the uptight train conductor shouting before his head dissolves into a 3D smiley face button.

“CAN I SEE YOUR TICKETS PLEEZ?!” 

I’m sure it seemed like a great idea at the time.

The Beat Club “Acid Train”
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘The Hitmaker’: excellent doc on the legendary Nile Rodgers
04.23.2013
08:02 am

Topics:
Dance
Heroes
Music

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Nile during his Soul Glo phase
 
This 2013 BBC documentary about living legend Nile Rodgers could not be more appropriately named, seeing as he has just given Daft Punk the biggest hit of their careers. Thankfully, this program includes none of the recent “Get Lucky” hyperbole (I mean, I like that song and all, but enough is enough already!) Judging by the concert footage it was filmed last summer.

You may know most of Rodger’s incredible story already (and if you haven’t read his autobiography Le Freak, you are really missing out on one of the best music biogrpahies of recent years) but there’s enough anecdata to make it a very worthwhile watch.

My own personal fave story is the one concerning Rodgers’ initial work on “Let’s Dance” with David Bowie. Worried that he may have been taking Bowie in too much of a “dance” direction, Nile asks him if perhaps the track is too funky, to which Bowie responds: “Is there such a thing, Nile?”

Try getting that quote, in Bowie-voice, out of your head the next time you see either of these two legends.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Ballerina skate decks
04.15.2013
02:56 pm

Topics:
Art
Dance

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Ballet skate decks by Manhattan-based photographer Henry Leutwyler.

In ballet and skateboarding, fearlessness rules. No half-measures or marking the trick. Just passion, grit and blood.

And if you’re wondering as to whether or not ballerinas’ feet and toes are all gnarled-up like that in real life… they are. A simple Google image search shows you what years of dancing can do.

Via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
RIP disco legend Vincent Montana Jr, King of Vibes
04.15.2013
08:33 am

Topics:
Dance
Heroes
Music
R.I.P.

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We lost one of THE heavy hitters of the disco/soul era on Saturday, a man who helped birth some of the greatest anthems of the 70s and 80s, but whose name will mean very little to the average Joe on the street.

Vincent Montana Jr was vibraphone player and band leader for both Philadelphia International’s MFSB and New York’s Salsoul Orchestra, outfits that, just between them, could rack up a near-definitive “Hits Of Disco” compilation. But that’s not even taking into account the hits he played on or produced for others…

“La La Means I Love You”, “TSOP (aka Theme from Soul Train)”, “Love Train”, “Me & Mrs Jones”, “Disco Inferno”, “Runaway”, “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”, “Love Is The Message”, “Armed and Extremely Dangerous”, “Backstabbers”, “People Make The World Go Round”, “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” (with Nuyorican Soul), the list goes on and on.

He also had some success with his own acts Montana Sextet and the Goody Goody Orchestra, including “It Looks Like Love”, which remains one of the keystone records in the vast cannon of disco. Like Loose Joints “Is It All Over My Face” or “For The Love Of Money” by the Disco Dub Band, “It Looks Like Love” has been responsible for turning subsequent generations onto the underground/dancefloor disco sound, and rehabilitating the genre from the sea of plastic crap that almost engulfed it.

In fact, it could be argued that “It Looks Like Love” is THE definitive “disco” record, as its stylish, graceful, sexy vibe is everything disco patrons aspired to be, and the perfect soundtrack to the time machine ride back to those clubs of the late 70s and early 80s. Others may disagree, but this is the track that does it for me. I can close my eyes and I am THERE.

For that, if nothing else (though there was of course LOTS more) we salute you Vincent Montana Jr! Play those vibes, once more time…

Goody Goody “It Looks Like Love”
 

 
For more info on Vince Montana, check out this great article by the British DJ Greg Wilson.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The Catherine Wheel: David Byrne’s criminally underrated funk opera masterpiece
04.01.2013
01:46 pm

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Dance
Music

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Hidden in plain sight in the midst of his prodigious creative output, there is an unfairly overlooked gem in David Byrne’s discography that I feel is an absolutely monumental masterpiece of late 20th century music, one right up there with Talking Heads’ Remain in Light and his seminal collaboration with Brian Eno, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. I refer to the seamless funk opera score Byrne created for choreographer, Twyla Tharp in 1981, The Catherine Wheel. Unless you were a big Talking Heads or are David Byrne completest, chances are this one might have passed you by.

The Catherine Wheel is, to my mind, the third spoke (see what I did there) of a deeply psychedelic African-influenced polyrhythmic trilogy along with the above-mentioned Remain in Light and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts—all three were easily in my top ten “tripping soundtracks” as an acid-gobbling teenager and all three would still be on my Desert Island Discs list as a middle-aged rock snob. If you’re a fan of the two better-known albums, but have not heard The Catherine Wheel, well, you’ll be in for a profound treat, but especially if you drop some acid beforehand (I’d encourage it, no really!).

Musicians heard on the album include Jerry Harrison, the powerful drummer Yogi Horton, percussionist John Chernoff, Adrian Belew, P-Funk’s resident Minimoog genius Bernie Worrell and Brian Eno. It’s mind-blowing to me that there’s not a deluxe 2-CD set of the album that would include the 12” mixes and live Talking Heads performances of songs from the score, but I feel like this incredible piece of music has always gotten short shrift from whatever major label currently owns it. (The Catherine Wheel is one of the greatest “fuck albums” of all time, too. That’s how they should market it, if you ask me. I toyed with the obnoxious linkbait title of “David Byrne, of all people, recorded the ultimate fuck album” but thought better of it).
 

 
Above, Talking Heads performing “Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open)” at Wembley Arena in 1982.
 
After the jump, much more including the full Twyla Tharp ballet as it aired on BBC and PBS in 1983…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Octavia St Laurent and the legends of voguing want you to ‘Be Somebody’
03.21.2013
11:49 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Queer

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Here’s a wicked video from Sweden’s House Of Wallenberg for the track ‘Be Somebody” which features lead vocals from the late Octavia St Laurent (ballroom legend and star of both How Do I Look and Paris Is Burning, referenced in the song’s title) and voguing from legendary members of the Houses of Ninja, Milan and Evisu.

House Of Wallenberg writes:

Sadly, Octavia St Laurent passed away before the release of this single. To celebrate her memory, the famous vogue houses of New York, spearheaded by House of Ninja, House of Milan and House of Evisu [including Benny and Javier Ninja, Aviance Milan and Dashaun Wesley of Vogue Evolution], came together and gave an epic performance in the accompanying video directed by Petter Wallenberg himself.

During filming, a homeless man came up and held an improvised speech about the meaning of being somebody, which is featured in it’s entirity in the breakdown of the video.

Very nice indeed…

House Of Wallenberg “Be Somebody” ft Octavia St Laurent
 

 
“Be Somebody” is available to buy on iTunes. For more info visit the House of Wallenberg website.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Deep In Vogue: an introduction to ballroom culture and modern voguing
03.08.2013
08:42 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Queer
Race

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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 | Leave a comment
THIS is how you dance to Detroit techno, 1989
03.06.2013
01:17 pm

Topics:
Dance

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Three blissful minutes of folks dancing their butts off to Channel One’s “Technicolor” at the Brotherhood Club in Detroit, Michigan, 1989.

This is how you do it.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
How to dance to Kraftwerk: All you need to know
 

 
Via WOW Report

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
WTF: The simply inexplicable art form of Jim The Dancer
03.01.2013
07:00 pm

Topics:
Dance
Unorthodox

Tags:


 
The enigmatic fellow who goes only by the moniker “Jim The Dancer” has been making YouTube videos for a few years now of his totally off the wall freaky dancing. Some of them have been viewed 5 times, while others have been seen a few thousand times. He doesn’t seem to care. He just keeps making them. There are well over 400 by now.

Jim’s motto is “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” I can’t argue with that, but lest you think I’m mocking his, er, singular art form, I’m really not. I’m laughing with Jim, not at him. It takes guts to act this fucking idiotic and not care. He’s clearly having a good time with it.

Hey, people thought Jack Smith was nuts fifty years ago. Today his work is celebrated in museums.

Jim’s musical selections are pretty off-kilter, too.

First up, Jim The Dancer interprets Lalo Schiffren’s opening theme for Enter the Dragon. This one was put up just a few hours ago and has only had one view.
 

 
I LOL’d when I saw that he had done one to Mud’s “Tiger Feet”:
 

 
Perhaps TOO much more Jim The Dancer after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Stop that shit’: the people of Harlem weigh in on the so-called ‘Harlem Shake’ craze
02.19.2013
11:53 pm

Topics:
Dance
Hip-hop
Pop Culture
Race

Tags:

The Real Harlem Shake
The actual Shake in action in the Bronx…
 
First, the good news: The “Harlem Shake” viral video meme is likely winding down pretty soon—at least we hope.

And as the excellent video below shows, lots of Harlem residents emphatically disapprove of the way that thousands have mindlessly helped appropriate the name of a community dance into some dopey shit.

If you’re not familiar with the meme, here’s the rundown. Last spring, Brooklyn producer Harry Rodrigues a.k.a. Baauer released “Harlem Shake,” a hugely catchy downtempo party track that very clearly samples a rapper saying that he does said dance. YouTube comedian Filthy Frank used the tune in a very silly costumed dance video that launched literally thousands of similarly silly copycats, full of mostly costumed people (many, notably, in white-collar office settings) flailing their limbs and humping the air.

Cue the analysis. The Fader contextualizes the details of the phenomenon, and The Gadfly has even framed its sociological potential as communal silly fun.

But of course it goes deeper. As writer Tamara Palmer eloquently put it in her article on the dance in The Root:

Popular culture is infamous for borrowing—and sometimes outright stealing—elements from a subculture and transforming them into something completely stripped of its origins. But it is still surprising to see how the current viral video craze called the Harlem Shake has managed to almost completely supplant a vibrant form of African-American dance that was born and bloomed in Harlem.

On the face of it, there’s absolutely zero wrong with limb-flailing and air-humping. But that’s not what the 30-year-old dance known as the Harlem Shake is about. Like most dance crazes cultivated by (and appropriated from) African-American communities, it requires a modicum of skill and, dare we say, pride.

Harlem itself is pretty unequivocal.

After the jump: want to know what the real Harlem Shake looks like? Check out this “shake cypher” video for some real context…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
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