October 28th, 2009

Pass the Pod (Like They Used to Say)

I’ve been working on a talk/chapter called “Skinny Jeans and Fruity Loops” and while part of that has involved tracking floggers and tecktonik across Latin America, another part has required that I dig into LA’s similarly day-glo/geeky youthtube dance scene: i.e., jerkin.

More on all of this research later. Meantime, I just want to share a video I stumbled across today (h/t davequam). It’s a jerkin battle between Zhani (reppin for local jerk crew, In Living Color) and someone solely identified as “A Girl Frm Insane Kidz” (another crew). Notably, as with a lot of TCK and floggy shufflin, as much jerkin seems to take place in public spots (malls, parking lots, or — as we see below — the Walk of Fame in Hollywood) as in bedrooms or living rooms. Lots to say about that — e.g., the blurred lines between private & public, the mixing of digital and meatspace flaneury, etc.

My favorite feature of this video, though, is not the dancing or the scene more generally but the moment at 0:30 when Zhani steps up and her competitor hands her the iPod she was wearing so that, presumably, Zhani can dance to the same track. It’s an interesting moment for lots of reasons, not least of which being the way it illustrates an improvised solution to the problem of “treble culture” (i.e., no boombox).

Here we have two girls dancing for their friends & peers, in public, to music only the dancer can hear* (I guess onlookers have to fill in the beat until it can be overdubbed for the YouTube masses) —

I’m sayin, tho: who got the bluetooth, yo? Let’s JAM!

* until the earbuds fall out, of course ;)

24 Comments

  • 1. Emmy  |  October 29th, 2009 at 7:08 am

    nice video. But I want to know more about these “floggers.” Just from reading the short tags, are the flogger incidents similar to the violence surrounding the emos vs punks y goths a couple years ago in DF? Los emos were identified as “gay” and were basically hunted and beaten by the more ‘masculine’ punks and goths.

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  October 29th, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Thanks for the comment, Emmy. I’ll try to get a post together on floggers sometime in the next week. (Right now my priority is to get a talk together on the subject for Nov 10, which will no doubt help generate some grist for this blog’s mill.) In short, though, yes, the anti-flogger incidents (see this, e.g.) have a lot in common with the (anti-)”emo riots” in Mexico last year. And further, floggers and emos are sometimes grouped together in the negative, anxious discourse about these “urban tribes” serving as evidence/engine (part and parcel) of the corruption of the nation’s youth (and their gender/sexuality). More soon!

  • 3. Nina  |  October 29th, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I kinda like that. Fits with one of my ideas about dancing certain dances- a good dancer should be able to dance merengue or bachata in such a way that an observer can “hear” the music.

    Not hearing the music makes watching this even cooler for me, because all I can do is imagine whats going on inside of her. I mean, to an alien observer one minute the girl is fidgeting with some things, the next she is possessed, animated. WTF.

    Taking the music away, taking the context away really does make me focus on how “odd” dancing is and how music transforms people. With music playing dancing rarely stands out. Perhaps because Im feeling the same thing the dancer does and its because it seems perfectly normal for people to dance when they hear music. Its what I expect to happen.

    But the all of a sudden for no apparent reason spazzing? Where did THAT come from, and what is going on, and thats weird. Kinda like you don’t notice that you’re wet until you get out of water. That sure is some strange activity.

  • 4. Marisol LeBron  |  October 29th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Hey Wayne,

    Just fyi, the New Boyz are coming out with a doc called “Skinny Jeans: The Movement,” exporing Jerkin’ culture and new youth fashion.

    Really looking forward to hearing more about this research!

    -Marisol

  • 5. wayneandwax  |  October 29th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Can’t wait to see that. And thx for pointing me to those video interviews with the New Boyz a little while back. (I love, among other things, the use of “olden days” to refer to things happening a few years ago! Talk about generational turnover…)

    I’ve been enjoying their savvy self-positioning and careful navigation of all the anti-skinnyjeans ire out there. And as little direct connection as they may have to Argentinian floggers or even Brooklynese Jamaicans for that matter, there is definitely something interesting about all this transnational skinnyjeans motion. Movement indeed!

  • 6. Arroz Con Beans | Theory &hellip  |  October 29th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    […] all popped in my mind as I watched this video on Wayne&Wax.com. Imagine if you had no idea what music was? If you had no idea what an iPod […]

  • 7. taliesin  |  October 29th, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Besides being someone that goes out and dances alot- and that I found my interest in DJING through dancing… I’m definitely not a “dance expert” so i definitely lack the correct terminology to talk about it.

    I’m always a little weirded out by overdubbed dance videos- mainly because I often see dance movement as a way of marking out the timing of a track… certain movement correlating the developments in the tune…
    (The reductive version of this here….)
    or maybe ambient hands in the air to the breakdown of a big trance track….

    Kind of like DJs rocking doubles- an overdubbed dance video seems to add a level of rhythmic complexity to the dancing that may or may not be initially there. A sort of polyrhythm emerging from the process of youtube uploading.. which then in turn is watched by other people looking to learn this type of dancing- and the added rhythmic complexity is then reincorporated into their dances.. a kind of technologically enabled feedback loop leading to greater rhythmic complexity between dancer and track.

  • 8. dave quam  |  October 29th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    check this shit out haha

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxLKk94IO6Q

    jerkin all over the place.

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  October 30th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Interesting thoughts, Tally! I’m not sure quite what to take from the idea that people might be learning how to do these dances based on overdubbed vidoes, and hence with “incorrect” ideas about how the moves relate to the rhythm. (Incidentally, I don’t think that’s the problem for that hapless dubstep kid; looks to me like a little too much time playing DDR and not enough time, y’know, actually dancing.) To your credit, you seem a lot more optimistic about the prospects than I am.

    That disjuncture between what the dancers are hearing and what we hear with overdubbed music really kills me. The relationship between gesture and beat is so crucial to what makes dancing really pop, and to miss that is to miss a whole lot. That’s what really irked me about that krumping film, Rize: the kids are clearly dancing to contemporary hip-hop, but because of licensing issues, all we hear is some sort of bland electronic soundtrack, and we’re given very little sense of how they’re relating to the actual music that’s moving them. Copyright FAIL.

  • 10. dave quam  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    omg Taliesin, that video is so funny

  • 11. Kiri  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Hmm, another flavor of schizophonic performance! Thanks for this. I second the irkage re Rize. I still use some segments of it for teaching but it drives me crazy every time.

  • 12. w&w  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    I’m not sure what’s schizophonic about this, actually. You mean for the bystanders? Or just as another example of separating sound from “source”? (What’s the source of an mp3 produced via software?) I guess I don’t quite get the import of the term — or find it worth investing in. The concept of ‘schizophonia,’ as I understand it (from Schafer) seems a little paranoid for me; I watch videos like this one and see vibrant social practice. Why worry?

    Plus, I think acousmatics is pretty much the best thing to happen to music, like, EVAR.

  • 13. Colin  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    first off, just wanted to add the Benjamin’s flaneur(y) was brought up *today* in Lee Blasius’s course on Adorno (what fun! ; and I felt like a true insider reading it).

    Second, Wayne, I believe you blogged the same problem with regards to music that the participant receives vs. overdubbed music youtube audiences receive in the “Watch My Feet” vid post.

    Could Kiri be re-reading the video as a separate “performance,” distinct from the live performance where the two girls had the music playing in the buds? In that sense it is schizophonic because the embodied dance performance is detached from the original sound source (the buds) and displaced onto the new overdubbed sound source. I don’t know where to go from there though (would it be schizomorphic(?!) then; is the dance or the sound being cut from the source? what is the source?).

    And finally, in re: treble culture/more digest from the latest 619 at UW, I present two *potentially* useful articles that come from a classmate’s state of research presentation:

    Bergault, Durand R. “The Composition of Auditory Space: Recent Developments in Headphone Music.” Leonardo 23, no. 1 (1990): 45-53.

    discuss binaural techniques, including use of head-related transfer function.

    Smalley, Denis. “Space-form and the acousmatic image.” Organised Sound 12, no. 1 (2007): 35-58.

    more dealing with spatial acoustics, but the glossary of terms may prove to be useful!

  • 14. wayneandwax  |  November 4th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for the refs, Colin. Incidentally, were you discussing a particular publication of Benjamin’s re: flaneurs? I know it turns up in his Arcades project, but, wanting to return to this now, I’d appreciate any more directed references.

    And, yes, I’ve talked about these issues — and kvetched about Rize — in previous posts here.

    I guess I just don’t understand quite what we can learn about these performances/practices through the rubric of “schizophonia.” Maybe it marks me as enmeshed in a sort of false consciousness that Schafer and Feld, et al., would tsk tsk at, but I’d prefer to take this splitting of sound from “source” for granted and move on to what seem, to me anyway, like the more interesting questions raised by videos like this.

  • 15. lucien.cockerham  |  November 5th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    So, so into the transnational skinny jeans and music research. Keep up the discourse.

    Hey WaynedndWax… I sent you an email a couple months ago about New Boyz “Ur a jerk” having 7,000,000 (now 18,000,000–is someone cooking the books on this one?) and also FLY “Party Time (Surf Party)” and where it might fit into all this.

    Did you ever get this? I know your busy, busy, but I’m curious especially since you’re research is taking exciting this turn.

    Speaking of ATL dances, anybody have thoughts on Pill “Trap Goin’ Ham”?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmyATEHzEDk

  • 16. lucien.cockerham  |  November 5th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Also, heard it here first — Floggers.

    So excited about this transnational tight jeans turn and music.

  • 17. wayneandwax  |  November 5th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Dude, I’m afraid I never got that email! Sorry. But I’ll go check those right away. You did put me on to the MIND BOGGLING jerk jam, “White Girl Clothes.” Ggonna hafta fit this into the paper somehow; talk about, erm, rich texts–where to even begin with this saucy number?

    And thanks for the Pill jam. Some intense stuff right there. Who needs The Wire when dudes’re bring hi-fi photorealism to hood videos? The conversation in the comments is pretty heated too. As many people proclaiming IT”S THE REAL as assailing its celebration of crack and pork products.

    But who was talking about ATL dances?

    Anyway, glad you’re psyched about the project; I am too! More soon–

  • 18. wayneandwax  |  November 5th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    BLAMM

    & MOREOVER

  • 19. lucien.cockerham  |  November 6th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Hey no problem! I just wanted to touch base.

    In my email I asked you what you thought of Fast Life Youngstaz who built on their hit “Swag Surfin,” which has a corresponding dance, and their later non-hit “Party Time (Surf Party),” which is kind of a joke, but still feels like it speaks to the falling barriers between skate and surf culture and hip hop, as well as the obliteration of walls between pop music styles.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeiJkGj99tQ

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKp3VK2Dk7U

    In my email I also noted that a friend of mine who teaches high school in multi-ethnic, working class L.I. high school (which also happens to be his alma mater) talking about all the kids, of all races and ethnic groups wearing the skinnies. He also said, “When I was in high school it was all different groups: jocks, heshers, skaters, surfers, preps–now it seems like it’s all one thing.”

    L.I. jocks wearing skinny jeans means as much as anything here.

    Also, 18 year-old, soon-to-be-pro Inglewood skater Theotis Beasley is a confirmed jerk dancer.

    http://www.thrashermagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3082&Itemid=38

    Thanks Wayne.

  • 20. lucien.cockerham  |  November 6th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Also, I’m really stoked on the Killer Mike statement.

  • 21. lucien.cockerham  |  November 6th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Oh, also, apparently “ham” is ATL slang for mayhem.

    http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1625544/20091104/andre_three_thousand.jhtml

    Though, I too wondered at the pork connection, as in “ham” being similar to “hog wild.”

    Thanks for the amazing work Wayne.

  • 22. wayneandwax  |  November 6th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Funny — I was just joking about the “pork product” thing, especially since the song/video itself plays up the pun with those shots from the grocery store / bodega. I was actually wondering whether “ham” is at all related to The Wire‘s “Hamsterdam,” which was definitely an example of trap mayhem. Not clear at this point.

    & thx for the other refs. Gonna take me a minute to check em out, as I’m in the middle of something right now. But I always appreciate the tips!

  • 23. Kiri  |  November 6th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Sorry, I guess my previous comment was functioning more as a note-to-self. I have no special attachment to the original schizophonia concept. Rather, I’ve been messing around with the notion of “schizophonic performance” as a way of describing situations where there’s some kind of perceptible disjuncture between performing body and audible music (e.g., in Guitar Hero/Rock Band, where that split does indeed seem to generate paranoia among many critics — it doesn’t worry me, but I’m interested in why it worries other people). Of course in the case of dance we wouldn’t expect the performing body to be the “source” of the audible music to begin with, so it’s far from a perfect parallel, but I’m still fascinated by the dancing-to-music-no-one-else-can-hear aspect of this video — especially when there’s other music dubbed on top for the YT viewer.

  • 24. Colin  |  November 29th, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I asked Lee if he knew any Benjamin citations of flaneury outside of the Arcade Project; he said he’d have to look, but that was two weeks ago, so I believe the answer is no.

    re: White Girl Clothes. Have you heard “Vans” by The Pack? The tracks and flows sound potentially related. At least, White Girl Clothes reminded me of it, though I don’t know much about either song.

Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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