Jumptown Jam 2012: the return of Gordon Webster

I’m at Sfoglia right now, which I once reviewed in a list of escape cafes I like to inhabit around here. Among those listed there, and a few others I hadn’t mentioned (such as the bookplate cafe at the National Library and the Teatro Fellini cafe at the National Film and Sound Archive), Sfoglia has emerged as a clear winner for several reasons: the prices are very reasonable, they’re only five minutes’ walk from my apartment or two minutes on my bike, and most importantly they have sfogliatelle, which have become a weekend ritual for me: camping out with the laptop, pastry and coffee. Today is a lovely day outside though, so I won’t want to spend the whole day around here. I’ve just finished checking up on the latest version of that paper which is long overdue to go back to the referee. Honestly, I’d hoped to have that thing out two years ago… oh well, we do our best under the circumstances.

No, what I really want to talk about is Gordon Webster, a slice of my home swing dance scene here to visit in Canberra. He came here last year, which I already thought was pretty darn awesome, and for mysterious reasons he came back this year to play the same event. Maybe we can make this a regular thing and build a local fan club in Australia!

By “the same event” I mean Jumptown Jam, a Lindy-oriented workshop weekend thrown by the main local swing dance organization. I can’t be bothered to go to the workshops, but I’m always up for social dances and crazy late night shenanigans, at least until I crash. Em and I hosted two out-of-town dancers who did attend the workshops, which started at 9:30 AM yesterday morning and this morning — an entirely uncivilized hour for anyone who wants to go to the late nights. Poor fellas. People from all over Australia have been kicking up their heels to Gordon’s music, particularly the locals.

The popularity of these weekends reminds me how loosely bound the Canberra dancers are — kind of like the outskirts of a globular cluster: there’s a really tight core of people who run things, and then a few more regulars, and then what seems to me to be a very large number of people who only come out once or twice a year, for the big dances or Lindy exchanges. Age doesn’t really seem like that strong a determinant, and responsibility, as far as I can tell, not much more so. There are just all kinds of lovely dancers, skilled and fun-loving, who I didn’t even know were part of my home scene (because they aren’t, really, they just live here); I treat them as if they were from out of town and this was the only night in the year I could dance with them, because it probably is. If I were an organizer around here, and I’m not, but if I were, I would wonder why those people don’t come and brighten the regular social floors more frequently, and what could be done to tempt them to come back.

The last two nights have been Lindy Lindy Lindy Lindy and tomatoes with a side of toast and Lindy on top, while I would have preferred a bit more “eggs and sausage, with a side of toast / coffee and a roll / hash browns over easy / and chili in a bowl / with burgers and fries”. I’m looking forward to tonight, where Gordon will, supposedly, play blues piano for a small and very committed audience at what would otherwise be our normal local blues venue. Being more of a blues dancer myself, my favorite follows to dance with (even for Lindy songs) are overwhelmingly also blues dancers; one of my favorite new dance experiences this weekend was dancing the occasional slower song with someone who turned out to dance West Coast most of the time. We’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the night when we all get to chill out a bit more and relax. I can only hope that enough people decided to stay for the Sunday night gig to keep the positive energy high!

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About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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