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If it be your will

20 Jun

In W, of all places, I heard of this singer: Antony and the Johnsons. The photo shown in W and the opening line of the article had me curious instantly. Yeah for YouTube and the interwebs, I was able to find and listen to his music on the spot. (I’m hooked!) Now, while I don’t know the exquisite details of Antony’s biology or chromosonal make-up, my guess is Antony is a hermaphrodite. Talk about taking the gift of life and making it an exquisite prayer of gratitude and development! What an interesting and beautiful voice.

Sing, Antony, sing! Here’s Antony and the Johnsons singing, “If it be your will.”

And Leonard Cohen, singing his version.

Dancing with light.

8 Nov

Few words I have for this right now. Dancing with light via Lorne’s Electric Heliotrope Theater was one of the most … well, watch the video and imagine how exquisite the experience probably was. The video can be a bit slow to load.

Electric Heliotrope Theater – Dance 2 – JessieX from MediaDog on Vimeo.

I gazed at him lovingly every day

25 Jun

michael jacksonWhen I was eight years old, I got my first-ever album. It was by The Jackson Five. Inside, there was a paper sleeve protecting the record. And on this sleeve was printed many fan items for purchase. The heart-shaped stickers with Michael Jackson’s photo in the center I pined for, day in and day out.

I would spend hours looking at the album and the fan items for purchase. It was too complex a process for my eight-year-old self to buy a sticker. And my parents wouldn’t have understood my desire, or thought it charming. This was another era: the beginning of the GenX era of childhood. Millennials, you’ll never understand in any meaningful way … and that’s ok.

My young tweenager’s heart would envision scenario upon scenario of how Michael and I would meet. How he would fall in love with me. And how he would choose me as his true love among all the other girls who loved him. I knew it was our destiny, and I spent much time seeing how it would happen.

I’ve grown up with his music. Watched him struggle. Do strange things. Always caring for him, even in his oddities. Even feeling sadness for his possible/probable pedophilia and how he wasn’t born that way, but made that way by … by who knows what combination of events/people/happenings.

And today, when hearing of his heart failure, my heart hurt for a moment. Deep. While I don’t know the circumstances or (possibly gory) details to emerge around his death, it felt right to me that his heart would give out. Has he known love? To give? To receive? To allow? To forgive? It seems logical and right that his heart would be weak in spirit and in soul.

The radio and twitter were my first feeds on the news, with twitter bringing links of the confirmed death. This evening, I turned on the TV to celebrate his life. Channel after channel of the same story. Lurid. Loving. Tragedy. Gossip. Up. Down. He was great. He was odd.

I already know all that.

I just wanted to listen to his music. Watch his videos. Marvel. Remember. And love him now, as I have always. As someone whose expression of self touched me inside and opened me up. These two videos are from his earlier days. I enjoyed watching them again tonight and share them that you might, too.


Rockin Robin

They called me Martha.

21 Jun

martha stewartLast night, I found myself at the Baltimore Gay Pride street party. It was after a long day indoors at Baltimore Barcamp and a nice after-party at Brewer’s Art. My BFF and I, dressed alike, as we often find ourselves in some mysterious sort of way, were headed out of Baltimore and back to the ‘burbs on a Saturday evening when we saw the street party.

“Hey, let’s stop by. They’ve got a DJ and some dancing. Let’s check it out,” I offered. Adventurous and curious despite her Suburban veneer, my BFF said, “Yeah, let’s.” (Or something like that … I’m just condensing for story-telling sake.)

baltimore gay pride street festival pic by spike55151We got a most-excellent, if not on-the-edge-of-illegal, parking spot and headed on over. It was nice. Heavily Baltimore with its blue-collar roots and deep urban feel, but a sweet event in any case. I’m sure my BFF and I were causing our own degree of curiosity, with our matchy-matchy outfits, our big suburban handbags and our “They sure don’t look gay” vibe.

Several hours later, as we starting heading back to my car, a guy asked me, “Hey, are you going to dance in the street at the red light? Lots of people run out and dance before the stopped cars.”

Hah. Daughter of Eileen and Jim Newburn, dancers from the day they met til now, I said, “Sure,” and promptly headed out into the street.

I can’t say exactly what happened next. I only have my experience plus the story-telling of those who witnessed it, but apparently my  appearance in the street caused a rapid and mass convergence, wherein in I was in the center of the group, dancing with a young woman who beelined her way to me. We danced, she and I, with a charged group dancing and shouting around us.

As the light turned green and our insta-dance party broke up, I heard a lot of good-hearted laughter. And then I heard this: “She’s like Martha Stewart.” Then it echoed, and I kept hearing murmurs of “Martha.” Even “Hilary.”

There are times when I’m reminded of how suburban and middle-aged I am, and this was one of those moments. I like to think of myself how I feel: young, curious, a little cool/hip/chic. Alas, the Baltimore Gay Pride street dancers saw me in a different light: They called me Martha.

Last night, I was introduced to Snowball

2 May

Have you met, seen, heard of Snowball? I was introduced just last night. Snowball is an adolescent rescue bird that takes center stage in the Dancing Bird World. Snowball actually dances, does routines and special moves, and even syncopates. Why would I be surprised then to discover he knows when his favorite songs are coming to a close and shifts his dancing, in time. Then, he bows at the end.

I find him a delight to watch, and I’d like to introduce you to him. Here he is rockin’ to The Backstreet Boys’ song, Everybody.

Update: Snowball and his dancing are highlighted in this week’s edition of The Economist.

Probably not what you envision when you think of hula hooping

29 Apr


10 Jan

This man with a hoop is a site to behold. One of the more distinct and inspiring hoopers I’ve yet to meet: Baxter of the Hoop Path in NC.


21 Dec

This girl can hoop. She’s local to Baltimore and one of the most inspiring hoopers I’ve ever known.

A Romanian love song.

7 Jun

A Romanian love song. Sung by three-year-old Cleopatra Stratan. Ghita. Love it! I love the internet, viewer comments, online publishing sites, tags … the whole works. If you find yourself charmed by the singer, song and video style, here’s another to watch.

Begging you for mercy.

27 May

A song on the radio (yes, I know, I’m dating myself) made me curious. It’s , by a young singer named Duffy. The video below doubled my interest.

I’m particularly interested in generational theory now. The way I understand it, right now is a time of big cultural shift as Millennials (born 1982 – 2002ish) are edging in to young adulthood and shifting teen and young adult culture with them. Generations produce oscillating trends. That’s what makes generational trends maddening and equally valuable; generations keep each others’ strengths and weaknesses in check.

Now, as much as Millennials have been raised on a lot of cultural vulgarity and extremism dished out by their elders (Boomers and GenX), their Hero archetype orients to a conformist, clean-cut, modest, upbeat type of pop culture. So, I’m curious to see if and how this tendency will unfold for Millennials.

In the video, did you see the shoes in the opening scene? Thems are oxfords, hon. Leather-soled and with tassles. The men dancing are clean cut, even wearing white shirts or long-sleeved button-down shirt. No baseball caps on these guys. Even when the men are shown in the video, their faces are indirect and modest. Their moves are masculine, enticing but hardly that over-the-top, GenX-style bold and in your face.

Duffy’s feet stay close together in a classic feminine position, throughout the video. The neckline cut on her dress is high. Elegant. Her skirt, just above her knees. Her hair and make-up are pretty and complimentary; nothing excessively sexified and in-your-face about this young lady. She’s sexy all right, just as she is. And that’s all that’s needed.

And as much as I’m a GenXer and love my tribe, I welcome a little more decorum and modesty. Bring it on, Millennials. Bring it on in droves …

A Full-circle Skirt

27 Apr

When I first started contra dancing, I was all about the *wild.* How far could I push the moves? How much more could I get out an 8-count? How many extra spins could I work in? I still do that sometimes. It’s cool. It’s fun. And, at times, it’s just right.

But then I discovered that I don’t have to push myself to get a good dance. I’ve discovered that attention to form has a lot of ROI. And, I’ve discovered that I can actually get more out of the dance by not focusing on the excess but on the micro-ness of my movements and form.

But the best discovery (other than what I mentioned above AND leather-soled shoes) is the value of a full-circle skirt. Lord, have mercy. When I dance in a full-circle skirt — especially the 1950s heavy cotton vintage kind — wowsa! I barely have to move and the skirt swishes and sways behind me. I love it. And while I am, of course, focusing on my partner and the progression of the dance, I can always see my skirt in my peripheral vision. It makes me feel more elegant and feminine, which then reinforces my desire to focus on my form rather than the flash and excess.

So, I have two 1950s cotton, full-circle skirts, impeccably sewn. One was a gift from my mother, a dancer in her own right, whose waist size had surpassed mine. The other I found at a thrift store for $2.49! Ric-rac galore! I still haunt the interior of eBay looking for more of the same. I just love them. I love to dance in them. I love to wear them in the summer. I love walking and feeling the heavy swoosh of quality skirt as a I walk. And when I dance, watch out!


If any of my peeps out there have older relatives, who would have been young and fun-loving in the ’50s, I’m a candidate for purchasing any 1950s-era full-circle skirts. My waist is 28″. *Sigh*  Any length skirt is good.


10 Jan

Last night I was a man. Well, at least for about 30-40 minutes. See, I showed up at the weekly contra dance at Lovely Lane Church, and there were a ton of women there, especially younger women. Plus, the Baltimore Open Band (a drop-in band) was playing, so a lot of the regular guy dancers were on stage playing music. So, I decided to help balance things out and “be a man” for a while.

I like switching roles now and again. It helps me see the dance and the dynamics from a completely different perspective. Contra is a called dance and a community dance where, quite unlike a waltz or swing where the man has full responsibility for the lead, he follows the dance but holds the lead inside of each of the called moves. Capiche?

Well, in one of the dances where I was being a man, I was dancing with a stellar and solid dancer. It was fabulous. Then she asked me a simple question: a question I’ve been asked many times before. Rather than answering it easily and fueling additional conversation between us, I found myself stumbling just to give her a couple of words as a short answer. I couldn’t lead *and* talk. Or, perhaps I should say, I couldn’t talk the way I’m used to fluidly speaking and hold the pattern of the dance in my head. To myself, I laughed and thought, This must be some of the frustration that men often feel when they are concentrating on something and women, with a profound capacity for diffused awareness, interrupt them, not understanding the significance of even a small interruption on their focus. It was quite informative for me.

Here’s an educational and entertaining YouTube vid on the subject of men’s single focus capacity and women’s diffused awareness.

Dancing Blind … and Backwards

9 Aug

Lesson 2: Closing my eyes opens up new worlds

I like to do social dancing (where the man is leading the dance, that is) with my eyes closed. Today I went to a new-favorite dance of mine: the fais do-do (I think that’s what they call it), a 4-hour zydeco and cajun dance jam that closes out Buffalo Jambalaya.

Most men are flattered when I ask them if it’s OK if I close my eyes while we dance. They then have to take full responsibility for the lead (which is their job anyway), but they also become hyper-aware when they know my eyes are closed. And, in turn, I get to respond more fully to their lead (which is my job anyway), and I find that it’s just easier to relax and be fluid when my eyes are closed.

Today, I was a bit nervous and uncomfortable when I first started to dance. See, this is only my second year attending this particular event, and I don’t know the dance floor the way I know some of my regular dance spots. And it’s a really big floor. In my initial discomfort, I was less responsive to my partner … more protective and tense instead. But the “dancing blind thing” only works when I trust my partner 100% to lead. So, at the moment I was most wanting to close in and not trust him was when I had to do just the opposite to be successful. And to have fun.

So I took a deep breath, made a decision and got fluid, fast. And had fun.

I like it when my perspective changes and when I see things differently. Like today when the only way I was going to feel safe in a new environment was to let my partner lead and to do my job to follow. Dancing blind is something I do for fun … and for the experience of changing my perspective, intentionally. I recommend it.

But only if you’re a woman. 😉


PS – The “dancing backwards” reference is specific to Cajun dancing. Most of a woman’s moves in Cajun dancing are done moving backwards. It’s a surprising workout on the legs.

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