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February 13, 2009


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Have a great time! As for us, we'll be at Boskone on Sunday. First time in many years that we're missing most of the convention.

I wish I had a weird and wonderful comment for you...

leave me some weird and wonderful comments to enjoy

To quote the Djinn in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad:
"I shall try, I shall try."

Have a good time.

Have a great time, and I promise we totally won't throw a party that gets out of hand and leaves us scrambling to clean the place up when you get back sooner than expected.

(I watched way too many sitcoms in the 80s and 90s)

The only sitcom I watched in those days was "Night Court". I'm not sure what that says about me. And we will make sure that AJ doesn't get out of control.

Well, I'd be thrilled to come back and find you guys all partying on in a conversational sense without me. :) I still find a whole folder of comment-notification emails very exciting.

I just realized that I have to take my laptop because the music for one of my sessions is on the laptop, so I may be popping in and now and then.

What's keeping you away from most of the con this weekend? I'd thought of going before I got hired for the Flurry, but, well, I got hired for the Flurry.

(I watched way too many sitcoms in the 80s and 90s)

If I've learned one thing from sitcoms it's that holding two parties next door to each other in an attempt to keep two mutually exclusive groups apart works better in theory than in practice.

I'd try and work out an internet party analog but I'm too fried after a full day of work with much unwelcome excitement. I guess this is pretty weird as a comment; I don't know about wonderful.

(I'd make some sandwiches for the party, but there were no cucumbers, not even for ready money!)

I am having so much fun going directly to a comment instead of the top of the post. Isn't it amazing how low one's standards for fun can go.

I'm heading out to the Flurry now, having determined that packing for the Flurry and attempting to write an abstract (~500 words) for a totally nonexistent paper (about ten pages) on German influences on 19thc dance games for a conference in Germany in October are really mutually exclusive activities and that the writing bit is portable enough that I should do it late tonight and send it in tomorrow (deadline is Sunday, and I JUST found out about it this week!)

This means I'm packing along 500 pages of incomprehensible German at which I plan to stare intensely and then cross my fingers and write something intellectual-sounding, optimistically assuming that it all means what I think it means. If not, well, the paper will have a lot of padding.

Anyone who is bored could helpfully occupy themselves looking up what might have become of stray German (Prussian, Austrian, etc.) people in the 1820s-1850s that their dance influence suddenly popped up all over the place. (The connection with the British royal family is the obvious, but that doesn't account for America or France. Big waves of emigration from [proto-]Germany? Post-1848 diaspora? Must research fast so I can put a sentence or two in promising more to come.)

Susan... the paper will have a lot of padding

Well, if it's going to have lots of German words, it automatically has a lot of padding, even more so than if this were about some French dances. I think Mark Twain once said that German words are so long that they have a perspective. (I prefer not know what he said about my mother tongue.)

Michael... Are you planning to go to the worldcon?

Susan, pre-1848 disapora? Frederick Layman was a Prussian mercenary for the Brits in the Revolutionary War, and stayed here.

That's too early. The transmission seems to have happened in the 1830s or so.

Amazingly enough, I arrived at my homestay location and in the lovely little bedroom I'm staying in what should I find but a German-English dictionary and several grammar books! How extremely convenient.

I did go out and do an hour and a half or so of swing/Lindy, at which I acquitted myself reasonably well. The hotel that's the main event site has WiFi; also extremely convenient. So I'm not very offline.

Like many places in Europe there were rising populations and limited opportunities in Germany during the period 1815-1848*, which lead to emigration. If I were forced to take a guess, I'd say the favourite destination would be the US, and they could easily have introduced dances, dance games, and dance customs there.

France was feeling many of the same pressures, but had her own colonies for people looking for a new life and industrialisation started earlier**. Which doesn't seem to make it a likely target for German migrants.

Take this with a pinch of salt; I've not looked into this for years, I seem to have developed a cough and headache and if I never hear the words "Pupil Restraint Form" again, I will be very happy.

* Also after, but the industrialisation of Prussia (and other german states) and the effects of the revolutions make it a lot more complicated.
** From memory

We used to think that father-in-law's side of the family came from the Alsace-Lorraine. It turns out that 'Krinard' is a German family name that got corrupted in the middle of the 19th Century when greatgreatgreatgrandpapa emigrated to America. As for why greatgreatgreatgrandpapa moved, well, it turns out that he and some friends didn't feel like serving in the Kaiser's military. Yes, my staunchly Republican father-in-law's ancestor was a draftdodger.

Well, if you want weird comments, I must shamefacedly admit that I learned how to do the Latin Hustle as a teenager in the '70s. That's the only disco dance I know, and it's practically the only dance I know how to do, unless you count the pogo or slamming.

I'm finding that I'm more tired than I thought, so I'm having a very quiet Flurry, with more conversation with friends than dancing today. My morning session went extremely well; people are still stopping me in the hall to compliment me. I am trying to redirect their compliments to the Flurry evaluation form, where they will be useful in getting me back here next year. RIght now I'm taking a little study break to get ready for my session tonight on disco.

Clifton, do you remember the rhythm pattern of the Latin Hustle you learned? There are a lot of different types of hustle with different rhythm patterns, and one of these days I'm going to try to make a comprehensive survey.

Thanks, I suspected something like that.

Back to dancing...

Jody and I are peering in extreme envy at the Flurry website. I think we will have to plan to go next year or the year after!

Five years ago this past Friday, my husband and I eloped in Las Vegas. We still think it's pretty wonderful, although there are those who think it's weird.

A very quiet Flurry?

Carol... Heck, who cares what others say? It's what matters to you that matters. That's what I tell my wife who feels that my only shoes being black exercise shoes, no matter what else I wear, is wrong. OK, may I am overusing the word 'matter', but what matters to me is that those shoes are comfortable.

Susan... Do people at the Flurry do 'la danse apache'?

(Idly turning on her laptop from her homestay and discovering that they have a house WiFi network with no password. Best Homestay Evah!)

Happy early anniversary! I have a couple of friends who eloped to LV and got married at Circus Circus. They're coming up on their 20th anniversary in a year or two.

Selfishly, I hope you guys go on a year I'm teaching so I can see you. Hard to say what years those will be; the Flurry does rotate teachers, and I'm not (yet?) on their list of must-haves every year.

Um...no. I can't think of many dances more problematical to teach short of the cakewalk.

So my disco session last night went amazingly well. I had one of the smaller rooms, but I packed it to the walls for the first half of the session and it stayed comfortably full for the duration, which is pretty good for a 10pm session.

I admit that I thought the Flurry Program Director was a little nuts when he asked me to do this session (I didn't propose it; he picked it off my website), but he was completely correct when he said people would like it. All my practice and music work paid off in spades. I did four easy dances, one harder one, and the "Night Fever" dance from Saturday Night Fever and had time for people to repeat the last two at the end. It's rare for my planning to run up against reality and win!

I had an age spread from people in the 55-60 range who were old enough to have done these the first time around and were clearly tripping madly on nostalgia to a good set of 30- and 40-somethings to a batch of teenagers who had some fabulous individual style. I'm bad at estimating numbers, but certainly over a hundred people. And since the fun of line dances is partly proportionate to the number of people doing them, the energy was incredible. I worked up a sweat teaching and dancing with them. And the director of the Flurry organization was there and dancing! (He's a personal friend of mine, but he doesn't play the nepotism game, so he won't push for me in particular to get hired unless he sees that I'm really successful and popular. So having him witness a really good session was very helpful.)

I was really wired afterwards from the dancing and from the continuing stream of compliments I'm getting on my waltz session yesterday morning -- people stop me in the hallway to thank me. By midnight I was walking around just thinking how amazing it was that I'm getting paid to come here with all these great people and do stuff that I love. If only I could make this my entire life!

Susan...I can't think of many dances more problematical to teach

I can see some reasons why right here.

Congratulations on the Disco success! Tony P, leader of the Disco Boys, henchman of Doctor Casanova Frankenstein, ennemy of the Mystery Men, would say:

"Disco is not dead! Disco is LIFE!

Again, congratulations.

That's a bit fancier than other clips I've seen, with all those lifts, but yeah, the basic concept of the dance is he beats her into submission. Not going to be a big hit on the dance floor nowadays.

My two sessions today went very well, and I'm just about to head home from Saratoga.

Susan... he beats her into submission. Not going to be a big hit

No kidding. To tell the truth, even when I was young, the whole thing felt icky. I much prefer watching flamenco dancers.

Serge: If I cared what other people thought about it, I wouldn't be married. :)

Susan: Thanks (although it was this past Friday, so not early)! I did wonder how many people who married on the same day -- or more accurately, the next day, since almost everyone else there wanted to get married on Saturday/Valentine's Day -- were still together. It's nice to know that some Las Vegas marriage last!

Carol, congratulations!

And Susan, what a great disco event! And complimenting you on the waltz? I bet they ask you back soon!

Right. I somehow turned "past" into "next." Happy belated anniversary!

That's the idea! I had two more good sessions Sunday, so I'm four for four for the weekend. I was still getting compliments about that first waltz session all the way up to the end of the day Sunday. The Flurry rotates its instructors from year to year; this was only my second time there. I'm hoping people mention me by name on the forms so they're more likely to have me back again every year.

Wait. You've actually seen or danced l'apache? When? Where? WHY? I know of it as a dance of the early 20th century, and you're not nearly old enough to have witnessed it in the 1910s/20s. Is it still alive somewhere as a folk dance??? Or did you see a performance piece? (And who the heck would perform that dance nowadays??)

Carol... I take it that Some People didn't approve.

Susan... you're not nearly old enough to have witnessed it in the 1910s/20s.

Curses! I have accidentally revealed that Rixo has one more immortal hanging around!

I think I saw the dance in old movies. I don't remember if it was in old French movies (to which I had easy access while I was growing up in Qu├ębec) or maybe in old American movies. It may also have been in cartoon spoofs. I do wonder if my memory conflated my very young self's shocked memories of seeing tango on TV, but, when I saw that YouTube clip a few days ago, I recognized it and thought "Oh, that's what it's called." How did that come up? On another blog, I had said that the word 'Apache' in French used to refer to denizens of the parisian underworld in the late 1800s.

And Ray Blount Jr.'s Alphabet Juice says "tango" doesn't have a Latin origin. The word comes from American Spanish.

The origins of the word "tango" are fuzzy but probably either (South or Latin) American or African.

Marilee: Thanks!

Susan: Also thanks!

Serge: A couple of people expressed concern at the time. When there are comments now, they run toward wondering how we're still together given that we're apart so much. We don't enjoy it, but it could be worse.

One has to wonder how people like that maintain relationships, what with the time they spend poking into other people's business.

Carol... Instead of wondering, they should be happy for you.

Woo woo! They are still interested in looking at my abstract for the Germans thing even though I missed the deadline. Yippee! (This suggests they don't have enough quality ones that made the deadline, so I think my chances are good. Cross your fingers for me!)


The things we do for friends, including the crossing of fingers.

Susan, Roy quotes the dictionaries in his definitions, and apparently "tango" is American Spanish. Oh, good luck with the abstract!

American Spanish, yes, but it may not have originated in that tongue either, in the same way that "deja vu" is commonly used in English but is not an English phrase. The roots of the dance and its rhythms are likely African; the word may be as well. Any author that fails to acknowledge that basic history should be regarded with suspicion, and anyone who thinks there's a definitive answer should be mistrusted.

So my German-reading friend Irene has translated some of the relevant bits and pieces of the 1820s dance manuals and has confirmed that the bits I think are connections are in fact connections. Whew.

Serge, Susan: People are happy for me. Those who expressed concerns at the time had what they believed to be good reasons for it: I agreed with some of the concerns and went ahead with it anyway. They still supported me and did very nice things for us.

Those who wonder about us still being together now don't seem to be saying it negatively, just in a "wow, being apart so much is hard, I couldn't do it" kind of way (others joke that we'll stay married because we're apart so much). It is hard. We just think we're worth it.

I didn't mean to make it sound like anyone has been awful to me/us. At least, that's my take on what has been said in my presence. Perhaps I'm mistaken or they're more negative when I'm not around.

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