Thursday, 11 December 2014

Posixcore

I'm on a Disney detox. It's part burying my head in the sand, sticking my fingers in my ears, and closing my eyes to all the bad stuff, but it's also a much needed bit of self care for my brain which is going over to the dark side.
My brain can't handle real life anymore. Watching the news, watching telly, reading torture reports, watching police murder black people, seeing poverty laughed at, reading about cuts and more cuts then some extra cuts for some lolz is sending me into a black hole. That's not emo hyperbole, I'm genuinely getting heart palpitations and panic attacks and dizzy spells of late. I get angry and scared and sad. The other night I flew into a tearful rage at a 30 second clip on Rude Tube on telly because I felt it proved that all men hate women and it was the last straw for that rotten lousy day.


The world is a gigantic shit storm. People are cruel and mean and corrupt and evil and selfish they enjoy every ounce of privilege and don't give a shit about anyone else. Usually my anger gives me energy to be posi. It makes me want to do things whether that be attend a protest, or write a zine or write songs or have a dance and find strength in my queer working class bubble. But lately I feel overwhelmed and unable to do anything and my posi self is struggling. 

In between Real Life Shit, I've been living on a heavy diet of horror films, true crime stories, and documentaries about serial killers by the fucktonne recently. My respite from real life is just an extra dose of dark shit and my head is having a not so great time because of it at the moment. Plus I'm constantly convinced that there is a serial killer lurking in the flat when I'm trying to sleep. It's like I'm 8 years old again and having to sleep with the light on because I'm scared of vampires. I had to stop watching The Fall because I couldn't sleep for 4 nights and had panic attacks in the dark. I don't care how amazing Gillian Anderson is, I can't watch it anymore.

So I'm on a self imposed ban for the next week from any of that stuff. Trying not to read as much of the news, or maybe not getting myself into such rage fuelled rant which gives me heart palpitations at the end of the day when I'm supposed to be relaxing. I need a bunch of silly fun stuff and make believe to recharge batteries so I'm stocking up on cartoons, Disney films, rainbows and unicorns and sugar. Posixcore!

So if you need me in the next week I'll be hiding under the covers with these:


High School Muscial is the ultiamte in posixcore. Everytime Troy Bolton gets frustrated at the world he just goes dancing on a golfcourse.





I'm midway through season 5 of my epic Gilmore Girls and it's very easy to tune out the real world when people are talking fast and drinking coffee in Connecticut. I'm not the only one who uses Gilmore Girls to hide from everything, No Ditching even wrote a song about it



I don't think it's possible for me to love Paramore anymore than I already do but this new demo with the deluxe album had me skipping round my bedroom for days. And for some extra posixcore vibes I might even have myself a Paramore acoustic youtube party and watch Hayley show off her vocal power for some additional happy magic.




An oldie but a goodie






Sometimes I turn to Bruce for insight, for songs about dealing wih shit. Like how next week my Dad is finishing work after 31 years at the factory due to redundancy and so I've been listening to songs like Factory and This Hard Land a lot and thinking about the lyrics 'stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive.' And other times I turn to Bruce for a laugh, and nowt makes me laugh like the Springsteen crotch slide. 




HP can lift me out of most moods, but Harry's dancing is capable of conjuring an Expecto Patronum spell no probs. Accio posixcore!

Friday, 7 November 2014

I left my heart in San Francisco

I just got back of a big bloody holiday in San Francisco and I'm gonna tell you all about it!




Me and Kyle decided we were gonna go on our first big proper holiday well over a year ago. We are both flat out broke and figured it would take us a year of saving in order to do it. I started doing the door at my favourite queer disco, Unskinny Bop, which helped me save some extra money, and even though I am utterly terrible with money, I was dead good and saved up for just over a year until I had the cashola to go on a big adventure.

This year has been long and a bit hard and burnout has made me quite ill this year. In the last few months I've hid away from a lot of responsibilities, ignored emails, and deadlines, and important projects I had committed to, in order to sleep and feel better and also look after Kyle after his surgery. It was time for a holiday!




We flew with Swiss air cuz they were mega cheap and I'm so glad we did cuz not only do they give you all the free gin you want in the world, but they are a company of feeders! I love plane food with all my heart and as well as this delightful meal of gnocci, salad, bread, cheese, and cake, we also got 2 croissants, a tub of ice cream, a turkey roll, a pizza, a bag of pretzels, and some slabs of swiss chocolate. I am all about the food and I wouldn't have cared if our plane had crash landed into the sea, as long as I can stuff my face then it's all good. Actually that's not true, flying FREAKS ME THE FUCK OUT and this time was the worst it's ever been. I found that drinking gin, gripping onto Kyle's arm until I cut off his circulation, and closing my eyes helped a little bit with warding off the panic attacks.

We landed in San Francisco! We found our way to our hotel which is just past the gates to china town. It was noisy as hell and our bed was lopsided and on the first night I thought there was a ghost in our room, but other than that it was utterly perfect. We stole every single mini soap they gave us each day because they smelled like lemon sherbert.




On our first day we went and had breakfast at Dotties where we both got enormous breakfasts. I was preparing to go 2 weeks without proper English breakfast tea because it can be hard to find in America and I can't drink that lipton stuff, so I decided that I would try coffee cuz refills were free and all the cool kids were doing it. I lasted half a cup. It still tastes brown and weird to me. But on the whole my breakfast was pretty wonderful. Breakfast would become my favourite part of everyday during my holiday. I agree with Leslie Knope - breakfast foods are the best, especially when I can eat waffles and fluffy pancakes and American hash browns every single day.

We mooched around Valencia, went down Clarion to see the murals, and went to visit Needles and Pens, a zine shop that had moved premises and seemed to stock more overpriced artsits books rather than diy zines. If you want zines in San Francisco go to Goteblüd, it's open weekends on Valencia. We looked around thrift stores in the Mission, we bought records and  halloween tat. Oh my god so much halloween tat - but why no fake blood, Walgreens? Huh? HUH?




We walked to Castro and visited the GLBT history museum which had a really awesome exhibition of the history of queer youth activism, a local history project discussing historical queer neighbourhoods in San Francisco, and an oral history project documenting the queer Asian Pacific Islander community. It was really fun and interesting and we spent ages in there. The invigilators were really super lovely and talked to us about the exhibitions and then asked us if we were going to see The Julie Ruin play in a few days, it was awesome.

Then after a quick grilled cheese in Orphan Andy's and some more gin while watching the San Francisco Giants play in the World Series in a bar and trying to figure out how baseball works, we headed over to the Castro Theatre to watch a double bill of Ghostbusters and Inner Space.




The Castro Theatre is bloody beautiful and while we were waiting for the films to start we were so bloody excited to see an man and an organ rise up from the floor and onto the stage to play some organ tunes for us before the feature. I've never loved an organ player so much in all my life. Unfortunately I don't remember much after that. The combination of jetlag and gin and sunstroke made me kinda pass out in the cinema and we both ended up falling asleep all the way through Ghostbusters. Hardcore.

The next day we had a big ass breakfast in Lori's, a fake 50s diner chain but actually really nice and my pancakes were the BEST! After breakfast we went record shopping and visited Rasputin's. There's a few Rasputin's dotted over San Francisco and we went to the one on Powell. It's next to a pizza shop and the whole shop smells of pizza and dusty records, it was ace. Kyle cleaned out most of the metal section, and I treated myself to some Limp Wrist and some Slant 6.




We then went on over to the Yerba Buena Center for Arts to check out the Alien She exhibition of riot grrrl which had just opened the night before. It was incredible. You were immediately hit with a gigantic wall of old flyers and posters for riot grrrl gigs from the 90s featuring bands and gigs that I went to as well as amazing shows I missed out on due to living in Dewsbury and being too young at the time. The first part of the exhibition featured shelves and shelves and shelves of riot grrrl + queer + feminist zines from the 90s to current zines. There were seats and benches for you to sit and read and I think I could have stayed in there all day if we didn't have places to be. There was also a short video installation featuring interviews with musicians and clips of riot grrrl bands past and present and cabinets featuring records, fliers, and ephemera that documented regional aspects of riot grrrl. There was even a cabinet dedicated to uk riot grrrl curated by Pete from Slampt records who admitted they had left Kenickie off the playlist provided due to differences between the band and the label at the time which I thought was kinda silly.

The second part of the exhibition features visual artists who have responded to or been part inspired by riot grrrl and feminism. The exhibition featured Allyson Mitchell's Ladies Sasquatch sculpture pieces which are amazing up close, and also Tammy Rae Carland's photography which I loved so much. There was an event that day dedicated to riot grrrl zines at Goteblüd, the zine shop in Valencia, but we didn't have time to go and it's probably my only real regret of the whole holiday, well, that and that I didn't buy myself the amazing halloween duct tape I saw from Walgreens.

That evening we continued the riot grrrl theme and went to the monthly night Riot Grrr at the Lonestar where Brontez from Younger Lovers was also djing. The night was slightly delayed due to the world series and so we watched baseball again trying to figure out the rules and failing. Once the night started it was ace and Brontez played us some Bratmobile and all my favourite riot grrrl hits were being played. It felt so damned strange to have the most amazing riot grrrl playlist and no dancefloor to dance on and I was itching in my seat, but we had a bloody ace time.




The next day was a big lazy day. We got on a cable car up Powell all the way to Fisherman's Wharf to meet up with my friend Anita who lives just out of San Francisco. I met Anita for the first time at Morrisoncon, a convention dedicated to Grant Morrison just a few years ago and we've stayed in touch ever since. She's amazing and she loves comics and Springsteen just like me and I was so excited to see her again. We met at Fisherman's wharf and went for food and cocktails. My cocktail tasted of umbongo and coconut, it was lovely. Anita is also big into magic the gathering and she answered all our newbie questions about building wedge decks in the new block. I was so chuffed to see her and I hope she comes over to the UK to visit soon!

The next day we headed back up to Fisherman's Wharf again. We went to pier 39 to gawp at the sealions who were wailing and cuddling and sleeping and fighting. It was amazing! We headed over to the Musee Mecanique, a penny arcade museum on the pier and played lots of old penny arcade games and got our fortunes read and looked at creepy dolls dancing and singing.




Then for lunch I took Kyle to have his first ever In-N-Out Burger. I'd bigged this up for years and I was worried it would be a let-down, especially now that we were both addicted to Five Guys burgers back home. In-N-Out was perfect, although my animal style fries were stone cold but still delicious. Then we had a genius idea. We had already booked ourselves onto the Alcatraz tour at night that evening and we had the whole afternoon free, so why not head over to Golden Gate bridge, walk across it, head down to Sausilito, then get the ferry back in time for our Alcatraz tour? Sure thing, why it's only a 9 mile journey in 4 hours and blistering heat, what could go wrong?




So we didn't know it was gonna be 9 miles. I have previously biked over the bridge before and it didn't seem that long because I ride quick, I've never actually walked it and just assumed it wouldn't be that far to walk. It was 9 bloody miles. And I mean bloody because by the end of it I suffered the worst chub rub of my life and my thighs were bloody and raw. It was a beautiful walk though and we just kept stopping and looking at stuff and saying 'it's bloody beautiful' over and over like we were hypnotised or summat. The walk up to the bridge is deceptive cuz you can see it so it looks close to you, but it's really really really not. Once we were on the bridge my vertigo kicked in big time and I couldn't bring myself to stand anywhere close to the edge of the bridge, which was bad news for all the cyclists who had to peddle around me as I stuck firmly to the middle of the path in case a gust of wind decided to pick me up and sweep me off the bridge ( I had this vision in my head the entire time I walked across it). It took just over 45 minutes to walk across the bridge. We had to keep stopping so I could convince myself we weren't going to fall off, and Kyle wanted to take billions of photos. Once we got to the other side it's another hour's walk around some hills to get to Sausilito. This was the most painful part as we were knackered and sunburnt and thirsty and cranky and my thighs were RAW. Also Sausilito is mega posh and once we arrived there we immediately felt scruffy and out of place and wanted to leave. We got a ferry back to the ferry building and drank the bestest beer of our entire lives in celebration of our walking achievements.

That night we were almost too exhausted for Alcatraz but the trip was super fun. At night the tour of Alcatraz is slightly longer than during the day and a bit more creepy. Our tour guide was a bit pro-prison which felt a bit uneasy, and I preferred the other tour guide who was a bit more anti-prison and actually talked a bit more about other uses of the island, like the protest occupation by Native Americans in the 60s. We walked round trying to find the supposed haunted cells until we were too exhausted to stand up anymore. At the end of the trip Alcatraz wanted to charge us $25 dollars for this totally authentic photo of us in front of an Alcatraz backdrop, so I nicked it and we went home and I put plasters on my bleeding thighs.




The next day we went on over to Haight and visited Amoeba records where all Pansy Division records were $3 and I got a Rondelles record for $4. I left behind an Excuse 17 record which I will regret until the end of time, and then we headed on over to Rasputin's in Haight and bought more records there. I have a time span of about 15 minutes in record shops before I get bored/need to pee/ need to eat, whereas Kyle's record shopping endurance levels are much higher than mine. So we stayed until once again Kyle cleared out the metal section and then got ready to go see Maria Bamford.




I love Maria Bamford. She's probably my favourite comedian and as well as making me laugh so hard that I pee, she also has brilliant things to say about mental health and I fucking love her weird and funny as hell stand up. It was a total fluke that we were gonna be in San Francisco while she was doing a gig here and we were beyond psyched. The comedy club was like summat you see on telly. I'm used to going to little comedy clubs in the backroom of pubs, or bigger comedy gigs in theatres. But tonight we were seated at tables and were told that it was a 2 drink minimum to stay in the building. I then proceeded to eat the worst  and most overpriced macaranoi cheese bites of my life as we waited for the fun to begin. Lydia Popvitch was the host who did the most brilliant piece about eating brunch and not wanting babies. Then Jackie Kashian was support who was so fucking wonderful it hurt my face. Her material was a mix of new and old and featured magic the gathering and LARPing jokes, as well as super honest and vulnerable bits about dealing with the after effects of sexual assault, It was brilliant and I loved her. Then Maria Fucking Bamford hit the stage and I remember screaming like I was at a Springsteen gig because I was so starstruck to be in the same room as her. Her set was mostly new material that was she was trying out and it was weird and awkward and funny and hard hitting as I've come to expect of Bamford. Her voice work is always so fucking good and I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face and Kyle said he got lock jaw from laughing so hard. After the show we got to meet her! Like she's an actual real person that we can talk to! Imagine!




She gave us amazing hugs and lost her shit when she found out we were from London and apologised for not coming over to our neck of the woods. She called over Jackie Kashian and told her we were from London and introduced us and so we got to meet Jackie too who is a massive Harry Potter fan and loved my hogwarts t-shirt. She signed  her dvd for us 'thanks for not being Voldemort' which is the best thing anyone could ever say to us. We then squeeed our faces off for the whole bus journey home and it was the best.

I should mention at this point that my thighs still hadn't recovered from our epic 9 mile walk at the beginning of the week and my usual trick of shorts and leggings and cut off tights and balm wasn't doing anything to stop the chub rub, so in the end I had to bandage up both my thighs to stop the rubbing and the bleeding and ended up walking with a limp for the rest of the holiday.

So the next day we went back to Haight, but this time spend most of our time on Divasedero on lower Haight checking out all the fun comic and game shops. We hit up Gamescape which was our dream game shop. It was so big compared to our tiny little game shops in London. There was so much space and dedicated table areas for game nights. After our Magic the Gathering talk with Anita, we treated ourselves to the Khans of Tarkir fatpack and a bunch of booster packs. Kyle got some Smash Up expansion packs and we gushed to the owner about how awesome his shop was and how envious we were. We then headed to Comix Experience which was a super awesome comic shop It had the perfect mix of superhero and indie publishers as well as small press stuff. We bought a bunch of books and then headed up to Golden Gate park to have adventures.




We walked through lots of nature and marvelled at how beautiful everything is and how bloody massive the park is that they had to stick roads in the middle of it. We headed down to the De Young Museum. We were unfortunately missing the Keith Haring exhibition by just a few days but managed to see the Anthony Friedkin exhibition, The Gay Essay featuring photographs from the original album of gay culture in LA and including lots of portraits of Divine and The Cockettes. We wandered round the sculpture garden for a bit and saw some of the Juan Munoz Conversation Piece series which we had seen a bit of in Margate last Christmas! It was hot and we were all cultured out so headed back to the rest of the park to explore more nature and walk down by the Aids memorial. The memorial was very peaceful and beautiful and is hidden in some of the shadiest parts of the park which is super quiet and pretty. We sat for a while until we got scared of spiders and took our sunburnt sweaty selves home.

The next day my thighs were at an all time low and so we just managed a big trip back to Mission and Valencia and on the way popped into Isotope Comics off Van Ness. Isotope is run by James Sime who co-organised the Morrisoncon event that I went to a few years previous. It was one of the best weekends of my life and was so inspiring and I was so excited to be in San Francisco to visit his comic shop and tell James in person just how much that weekend meant to me.




Isotope is probably the best comics shop I've ever visited. It's a real mix of superhero and mainstream comics with equal space for indie comics, and even an upstairs room dedicated to small press comix and zines. I introduced myself to James and proceeded to babble on about how much that weekend meant to me. James is a force of nature, his enthusiasm and passion for comics is infectious and unlike some comic shops which continue the negative stereotype of cliquey snobby staff, James is the complete antithesis to this and excudes enthusiasm and positivity for all comic readers regardless of the comics they have read or haven't read. He gave us a tour of his store including the famous toilet seat exhibition, where comic artists have been invited to draw sketches on toilet seats supplied by James which was inspired by Brian Wood drunkenly vandalising Isotope's bathroom years ago at a comic launch.




James also reccommended loads of awesome indie comics to us, especially those created by his friends and was massively passionate about so many titles that we ended up grabbing everything we could and were super surprised when James gave us incredible discounts. I feel like I robbed him. I honestly can't recommend Isotope comics enough. If you ever get a chance to go while in San Francisco then please do, you wont be disappointed and there is something for everyone in there.  Also a massive thanks to James for getting us massively addicted to the Wuvable Oaf series, we can't get enough now!

On Friday is was a BIG day. It was the world series parade, it was Halloween, and we were also seeing our mates Nick and Zak who were also holidaying in San Francisco!




The world series had been frikkin everywhere while we were in San Francisco. During the 3rd game I felt so self concious walking round San Francisco in my outfit that day which was mostly blue, the colours of Kansas City. It pretty much felt like everyone in San Francisco was decked out in orange and black, the colours of the Giants. The Giants won the world series. I know this because I heard the yelling and cheers as we walked through chinatown one night and all the cars starting honking their horns. So we decided to head over to the parade being thrown for the Giants with our $10 jarg Giants t-shirts bought like true tourists. All week we had been watching local tv channels freaking out about the rain due to fall on that friday. I know that California is in a drought and I shouldn't laugh, but oh man, news anchors were freaking the hell out and calling Halloween a 'wash out' as light showers and up to a quarter of an inch of rain was scheduled for Friday morning. Silly San Francisco, I've lived in Manchester, I know what real rain is. It was mega funny being at the parade in our shorts and t-shirts in the super light rain that lasted almost half an hour while everyone else was dressed up in waterproofs, scarves, wellies, rain ponchos and umbrellas as though it was the end of the world. We cheered on all the floats, there was an amazing marching band and a troupe of cheerleaders, and we yelled LETS GO GIANTS over and over and over like we knew what the hell we were talking about. Then out of nowhere the riff from Enter Sandman was blasting out and we saw a float go by with Metallica on it! Kyle started yelling OH MY GOD and put our fists in the air with all the team spirit we had. It was amazing!




As the parade came to an end we made our way to Berkley to check out the comic and game shops there while meeting up with our mates. It was super surreal to see Nick and Zak in Berkely, like it was a totally normal thing for us all to be hanging out in America, as you do. We explored some games shops and went to Fantastic Comics where I'm pretty sure I spotted Heather and Juliette of Brimpception fame. We then ate a tonne of chinese food and attempted to find fake blood and a bar for us to hang out in for pre-Halloween fun. We found no fake blood in all of Berkely so headed straight to the nearest bar which had way OTT Halloween decorations that were amazing.




Then it was time for Total Trash Fest! A super awesome show featuring bands performing as covers bands for the night including Cumstain as Weezer, Yoghurt Brain as Smashing Pumpkins, Hunx as Gayracula, and Shannon and the Clams as freaking Metallica aka CLAMTALLICA! It was super fun seeing a Weezer set without any of the shit songs and we danced and sang along. Clamtallica was bananas though. That moshpit was crazy and I got so bruised and battered. I also fell out massively with the guy next to me who attempted to push me onto the floor all night long for the lolz. But other than that it was amazing. Shannon was rocking a blonde curly Hetfield wig and 'tache and looked scary. She was incredible. I didnt know whether they would be kind of making fun of Metallica and whether their set was going to be funny, but it was amazing and technically brilliant. Everything was hard and heavy and loud and sweaty and better than anything I could have ever done on Halloween. A 2 hour bart journey home and we were wiped.




The next day we did nothing other than eat and sleep. I don't really drink usually and so the few drinks I'd had at Halloween had destroyed me and I had to spend the day in bed. By the evening we were craving dim sum and filled our bellies before heading on over to see The Julie Ruin and Younger Lovers play at the Fillmore.

Younger Lovers were amazing and totally won over their crowd by slagging off anyone who likes Modest Mouse and Brontez telling the story about how writing to Kathleen Hanna during high school saved his life. It was so much fun and Brontez came over to say hi afterwards which was dead lovely. I have to admit I don't totally love The Julie Ruin as much as I wanted to. I love Julie Ruin as in the original solo project by Kathleen in the 90s and that album means the world to me, but the new band doing versions of old Julie Ruin songs leaves me a bit cold. I feel horrible saying it especially as we encountered so many excited people at the gig and I don't want to piss on anyone's parade because I totally get the excitement. I got so excited when they came out on stage though, I'd completely forgotten I would be in the same room as Kathi Wilcox! We stayed for a few songs and it was fun, but I got a bit sad when they played Friendship Station by Le Tigre because it felt a bit too much like a Kathleen Hanna greatest hits show rather than a gig by a new band. I dunno, I can't explain it and I sound like a knob but I think I would have stayed if it had been a full set of new songs by The Julie Ruin rather than cover versions of songs from Kathleen's old bands and I know that sounds silly and ungrateful. But also we were hungover as hell because it turns out that more than 2 drinks is enough to destroy me these days, so we left before the end like losers.

Then before you know it, our adventure was coming to an end! On our last day we were running out of money and we wanted to do lots of free things in the little time we had. So we headed out to Presidio to see the famous Pet Cemetry there. It took us an hour to get there and 3 buses and in the end it was all cordoned off for building works. But we still managed to look through the fence and see some super cute and super sad headstones for people's beloved pets. 




We then walked down by the bay for an hour to gawp at all the fucking ridiculous beautiful scenery some more before heading off to Alta Plaza Park where on the first Sunday of every month, Pug owners from all over SF bring their pugs out to play the park and pug enthusiasts cant hang out and play with the dogs. For non dog owners like me it was a bloody dream come true. Hundreds of pugs running around, some dressed up as bumble bees or mermaids or football players, sniffing each others bums, cuddling, peeing, and barking their heads off. It was a delight. I got to pet so many amazing pugs and gawp at how lovely they all were. My face actually hurt from smiling, it was the best day ever.




After an exhausting day we headed out for more chinese food then headed over to Mission to meet Nick, Zak, and Koala and co for dia de los muertos parade. We promptly lost everyone as the parade started but gawped at all the dancers and marvelled at everyone's painted faces. It was dead good to see a whole float dedicated to affordable housing in the mission dance past us, as well as everyone else. It was the best way to end our totally unreal holiday adventures and as the parade started to thin out I had the best pizza of my entire life from Escape from NY pizza. I had potato and garlic pesto, Kyle had some posh pizza with figs on that he is still raving about today, and we walked back home dead happy and full and not wanting to leave.

It was the best holiday ever. The end.



Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Irreverent Dance Kickstarter

Just in cased you missed the memo, I love dancing. I wrote a zine about dancing and fat bodies and self care and participating in diy queer cultures through dance which you can get here. And I've written about my involvement with the dance school Irreverent Dance here.

I. Love. Dancing.

Due to lots of big life reasons and health reasons and burnout reasons I've had to scale back a lot of my activity with ID this year as I haven't had the time/money/head space to dance and it's had a huge impact on me. When I don't dance, I feel more down and I struggle. I miss it so much.

And so I should have posted about this ages ago but due to life reasons and holidays of a lifetime (holiday blog post with gratuitous pictures of everything I ate coming soon!) I haven't had the time to share this with everyone, so with just one week to go I want to tell everyone about the Irreverent Dance kickstarter which ends in a few days.

Irreverent Dance are hoping to crowdfund a brand new venue that would be Europe's first ever gender neutral dance studio. With a permanent home, Irreverent Dance could create safer spaces for people wanting to dance. It can offer a space for people who don't feel like they have a 'dancer's body', it will be a fully accessible LGBT friendly space that doesn't restrict space/choreography/teaching style according to gender as traditional dance tends to do. Irreverent Dance is important to so many people, and with a permanent home and an environment that they can fully control, it can offer so many more classes to so many more people, as well as continue outreach work within LGBT communities.

You can find out more about what the kickstarter is aiming to do and why over here:




And most importantly, you can donate to the kickstarter directly here

Monday, 20 October 2014

Words and guitar


Just last week I was chatting with my bff over a cuppa. He was getting super giddy about the rumours of a new Sleater Kinney song and I was being boring and detached and saying that I actually kinda hoped that the Kinney didn't have a reunion because what they had was so perfect I didn't see the need to revisit it. I loved the Kinney so fucking much, but now I was over it. 

I was a total lying liar face. 

Today along with every other person I know, I lost my shit hearing that the rumours were true and that the new Kinney album would be released next year along with a tour. Remember when I said I was over it? No way.

I've got to admit, me and the Kinney parted on strange terms. It was true fucking love, it was life changing love, it was the purest proper kind of love, but towards the end I got turned off at the new 8 minute guitar solos that became standard during The Woods tours. If I can go to the loo during one of your songs and come back and the same song is still playing, it's usually a turn off for me. The Woods didn't hit me in the chest with a sense of oh-my-god-nothing-I-will-ever-accomplish-in-my life-will-ever-be-as-good-as-this-album-so-what's-the-point? kind of feeling that Kinney albums usually left me feeling. But when I heard about their hiatus I felt so sad having lost one of the greatest bands of my life. 


Sleater Kinney were everything. I remember reading about them in Manda-Rin's zine Funky Spunk and being obsessed from the first time I ever heard Little Babies. I remember travelling round the country to see them, sleeping in train stations, catching megabuses and fangirling my face off at the fact that Corin Tucker existed. I remember seeing them at the Roadhouse in 1999 with Valerie, it was so hot the venue had started to rain sweat. I remember Janet Weiss saving my life and passing me a bottle of water when I thought I was gonna faint. I remember keeping that bottle of water safe for years after. 

Like everyone I know, One More Hour has documented most of my break-ups. I was going through a particularly horrible break up just as The Woods came out and it's horrible having an 8 minute guitar solo being the soundtrack to your pain. 

I remember listening to early Sleater Kinney and Heavens to Betsy and daring myself to come out to people because I knew I was queer and hadn't said it yet but could sing along to songs in my bedroom about Corin Tucker being in love with another girl. 

Sleater Kinney are a proper big part of the younger me, and I see them as something in the past which is why I meant that I didn't really want them to reform. Because what if their new album is jazz influenced or electro or just plain awful and I have to pretend I like it just to keep Sleater Kinney as consistently brilliant in my head? I've got admit, I'm not falling head over heels in love with the new song that's currently streaming, it doesn't make me feel all that much so I'm wary about the new album. But the thought of seeing them again, of breathing the same air as Corin Fucking Tucker, the thought of screaming my face off to songs that mean everything to me is making feel so excited. I'll happily endure the 8 minute guitar solos for that.



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Zine libraries 2014

It's International Zine Month and yesterday was Zine Library day so I've decided to update my list of UK Zine libraries which I compiled last year.

Zine libraries and archives are amazing. They make huge collections of zines available and accessible and totally searchable to the general public. You can reach audiences you might not otherwise if you are a zinester and only circulate your zines at zine shows and through distros. Your zine can be preserved and looked after and made accessible to people outside of zine communities. They can be indexed and compiled in bibliographies and used as examples of various subcultures and politics and writing. 

Some zine libraries belong to bigger institutions with libraries which have useful things such as online public catalogues, preservation equipment to look after your zine in the right way, and staff that can catalogue and index your work and make them accessible. And other zine libraries are more grassroots and run in social centres by people who love zines and are part of the community. There is no 'real' zine library, they are all valuable collections, but if you are thinking of sending your zines to libraries, select a handful of different types.

I previously set up the zine library at Stuart Hall library with my colleague Sonia, and I'm currently in the process of setting up a new zine collection in my current library. As a librarian there are some things which definitely make my job easier when cataloguing zines. And here is the golden rule:

If you are writing a zine then adding a clearly identifiable title, name/pseudonymn, and date somewhere in the zine is an awesome thing to do!

You don't *have* to do this, it's your zine and not all zinesters want their zines in zine libraries. You may want to have no name attached, you might enjoy making untitled zine works,or want to keep your pages un-numbered o that the reader can choose which order they read. But these few details really help a librarian out and can help make your zines more accessible to others in zine library collections.  


It's totally ok to write a zine anonymously as well, but I've had zinesters emailing me asking why their name doesn't appear on the online catalogue for the zine they have written and I've had to explain it's because there was no name attached to the zine! Also adding dates to zines is just super useful for your own knowledge. I was looking through all my old zines the other day and about half don't have any dates on and I have no idea when I made them.


Thinking of donating your zines to UK zine libraries? Here is a handy list of places you might want to send them:



Scope: Has specialist collections of counterculture zines, women’s zines, riot grrrl zines,music zines, football zines, alternative comics. Items are held within Special Collections and are available on request.

Online catalogue: Most zines have been catalogued and you can search for zines here  There are also finding lists available for some uncatalogued zines and comics here  

Donations policy: Contact andy.simons@bl.uk to donate your zine

Access: Zines are available to BL readers upon request. Contact andy.simons:bl.uk for more info. Opening hours and registration details here 




Scope: The Women’s Library zine collection aims to collect and preserve women's zines from the 1970s to present day.

Online Catalogue: All zines are catalogued and can be searched here 

Donations policy: To discuss donating your zine to the collection please email library.enquiries@lse.ac.uk 

Access:The Women's Library is open Mon-Fri 10:30am-5pm. Visitors are advised to book an appointment 2 days in advance. You can book an appointment, reserve material, and register by emailing library.enquiries@lse.ac.uk or calling 020 7955 7229.




Scope: The Stuart Hall Library began its zine collection in 2010 and is continuing to collect zines. The library collects zines relating to cultural diversity,race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, as well as personal/political/arts based zines. 

Online Catalogue: All zines are catalogued and be searched here 

Donations policy: The library welcomes donations, please contact library@iniva.org to discuss donating your zine

Access: You will need to register as a library member to access the material. The library is open Tues- Fri 10am – 1pm 2pm – 5pm. Please contact the library to make an appointment library@iniva.org





Scope: The LCC part of the University of Arts has a growing collection of zines spanning art zines as well as music/personal/political zines, covering art, music, photography, politics and personal stories.

Online catalogue: Items are added to the general library catalogue here

Donations policy: The library welcomes donations. Please contact l.kassir@lcc.arts.ac.uk

Access: To arrange access please contact l.kassir@lcc.arts.ac.uk



Scope: The library collects all zines donated to the collections ranging from art zines to personal zines to music zines etc

Online catalogue: No online catalogue available but the zine library has a blog promoting all new zine donations here 

Donations policy: Salford Zine Library wants your zines!  The library is non profit and welcomes donations  contact salfordzinelibrary@gmail.com or send your work directly to Salford Zine Library, 40 Jutland House, 15 Jutland Street,Manchester,M1 2BE 

Access: The library is open daily to the public and is based at Nexus Art Cafe on Dale Street, Manchester.



Scope: The zine library collects political, feminist, queer, activist zines as well as perzines and punk zines.

Online catalogue: No online catalogue

Donations policy: The library welcomes donations, please contact info@56a.org.uk

Access: 56a is a volunteer run social Centre and is open to the public. The centre is open Weds 3 – 7pm, Thurs 2-8pm, Fri 3 – 7pm, Sat 2 – 6pm.



Scope: Zineopolis focuses on zines heavy with visual content aka art zines, but also has zines wider in scope.

Online catalogue of zines: No online catalogue but each zine in the collection is briefly listed plus description and images here

Donations policy: To donate your zine please contact Jackie.batey@port.ac.uk The library welcomes donations that are visual based art zines.

Access: To access the collection please contact jackie.batey@port.ac.uk



Scope: Feminist, perzines, music, punk, political, comics included in the collection. The collection dates from the early 90s to present day.

Online catalogue: You can search the GWL archive here Although many materials are currently uncatalogued and readers are advised to email for more information info@womenslibrary.org.uk

Donations policy: Zine donations are welcome, please contact info@womenslibrary.org.uk

Access: The library is open Mon-Fri 10am – 4:30pm while access to the archive is limited due to refurbishment. To arrange access and request specific zines please contact info@womenslibrary.org.uk



Scope: The library is a lending library with materials relating to libertarian, ecological, and feminist books, pamphlets, and zines.

Online catalogue: The online catalogue of zines is currently in progress. You can check the progress of this here  (Gotta say though, I’m pretty damned impressed at their progess so far in creating a free easy to use catalogue considering it’s not got the weight of a larger educational institution behind it)

Donations policy: The library welcomes donations, you can contact cowleylibrary@gmail.com for more infor

Access: The library is open Weds, Thurs, Fri 12 – 6pm and Thursday evenings 7 – 9pm

Monday, 14 July 2014

Fangirl


This Saturday I attended London Film and Comic Con for 2 big reasons, Gail Simone, and the first ever UK YA Lit Con because loving things is awesome.



YALC is the first UK YA  Lit Con organised by Booktrust and curated by Malorie Blackman with amazing YA authors and creators in attendance such as Rainbow Rowell, Patrick Ness, and Emma Vicelli and Malorie Frikkin Blackman. With its own deciated area of the film and comic convention, YALC provided a super fun + super posi+ super welcoming space for YA fans of all ages to meet authors, listen to panel discussions, attend workshops,buy books, swap books, and read books for free in a reading zone with cushions and beanbags. LFCC was chaos this year, even more so than usual due to the number of crowds that Stan Lee managed to attract on his last ever UK visit, and so YALC was a great place to get away from the swarms and interact with other YA fans and creators.

Have a sit down and read a book. Sounds like my kinda party.
It was a great mix of YA fans in attendance specifically to meet their favourite authors and talk about the books they love so much, as well as passing comic con attendees in cosplay wanting to see what was going on. Usually at LFCC the book zone is completely dead, but YALC completely brought it to life and it was brilliant to see so many people of all ages passionate about reading YA. The publishing table with promo material for upcoming YA titles were giving away free books on the hour to the first people at their stalls and seeing a crowd of mostly young girls running up to the table excitedly for a free book made my heart burst. So posi it hurts.

Swap yr books!

I love YA and other than comics it's my other big reading love. I always felt embarassed to admit that I lost my passion for reading grown up books quite a few years ago. I read them slowly and out of duty and they don't grab me the way that comics and YA do and I was so excited to be around so many other people that were that passionate about YA. Librarians, parents, teachers adults that love reading, kids, teenagers, punks, and random Deadpool cosplayers who wanted to see what all the fuss was about, everyone was having an awesome time!

Malorie Blackman is the curator and director of the first ever UK YA Lit Con and is also the goddamn children's laureate, and it was awesome to see her kicking things off with a geektastic speech in klingon. The panels were a great chance for attendees to hear their favourite creators discuss things like the growth of dystopian YA, the challenges of adapting shakespeare for YA graphic novels, and the way that fandom can shape YA authors. The talks were completely packed out and those waiting in line for photographs for some of the convention's film and tv guests nearby also stood listening to the panels and came back to check out other aspects of the YALC area.

Tatty Devine Faingirl necklace to promote Rainbow's upcoming UK tour

I'm a huge Rainbow Rowell fangirl (OHMYGOD DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE!) and was so happy to have her on stage talking unashamedly about her love of Harry Potter and the way that she wrote X-Men fanfiction when she was younger in which all the blue X-Men fell in love with her. Her YA books Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl are INCREDIBLE. I haven't been moved by a book like Eleanor and Park in forever and I was super star struck at the thought of getting to meet Rainbow herself. The queue for Rainbow was bananas and looped round right into the main centre of the general film and comic con prompting a lot of people not attending YALC to ask us what on earth where we queuing for. 

Faced with two sprained ankles and just a 2 hour window, Rainbow made sure she saw everyone that had taken the time to queue to meet her. I chatted with her briefly about her upcoming collaboration with comic artist Faith Erin Hicks who I love like woah, and it was nice to her Rainbow be equally as geeky and as excited about Faith's work.

Rainbow Rowell being a superhero with ice-packs on her ankles

I thought I had missed my opportunity to meet Malorie Blackman due to spending all that time in the Rainbow Rowell queue but Malorie was just wandering around chatting with people and I got to meet her very briefly. She's incredible. Have I mentioned that? Incredible.

Next I skipped the film and tv part of the con and as much as I love gawping at everyone's cosplay, I couldn't move and couldn't breathe, it was the busiest I have EVER seen LFCC and I just wanted to find the comic creators to geek out there. All the comic creators were in a separate building where Stan Lee was also based. While the queue for him was bananas, the rest of the comic zone due to poor signage and complete segregation from the rest of the con was completely dead. I felt so bad that there were such awesome comics people siting in a half empty hall. The indie creators were further segregated, and in one section there was very little or no lighting. I know that Martin from Spandex comics was so frustrated with his experience at LFCC that he packed up his table and left halfway through the first day which is so disheartening to hear. With comics as part of its title, it's sad to think that LFCC hadn't included the comics zone into the rest of the main action as much as they could have done. While meanwhile outside, thousands of people struggled to get into the main hall as the con reached full capacity super quick. It's just such a shame that attendees weren't directed to the comics zone and that it felt like such a separate event.

That said, I was too excited for words. No not for Stan Lee, but for Gail Simone. I have missed nearly every single UK apperance she has made, as her other cons have always clashed with work commitments or other things and I've always been so gutted that I've never gotten to meet her. Gail Simone is one of those comic writers who got me into comics in a big way. She is a feminist hero, she wrote one of the first mainstream trans characters in a DC comic, she gives a shit about inclusivity and diversity, they aren't just buzzwords to her, she gets the importance of representation, and she loves comics just as much as the fans do.

Meeting her was a pretty big deal and I talked with her about how sad I am that she is leaving the Batgirl title and we both talked about our fears about what would happen to Alysia (the trans character who she introduced into the Batgirl series) now that Batgirl would have a new creative team and direction. We talked about how stinky Red Sonia is, how Dynamite are publishing some really great things, and how Gail was also writing a brand new title featuring a trans* superhero. It was amazing and yeah I'm not ashamed, I may have gotten a bit teary eyed.

Gail Frikkin Simone

Due to Operation: Sort Life Out, I was unable to attend the 2nd day of LFCC to hear Gail speak in a spotlight panel at the con, but the internet tells me that some pretty SECRET things were hinted at, like the possibility of Gail writing a new Secret Six series which makes me very happy indeed.

I love loving things, ok, and I when I love things I love them hard. I am a total fangirl. I get passionate and over excitable and obsessive and I give a shit about fiction and popular culture and art, and it's wonderful.

I so hope that YALC returns with another event in the future. While hosting it at LFCC meant there was such a crossover of attendees, hopefully in future there can be a larger more dedicated space as there are so many people who would love to come who maybe didn't want to attend a comic con. Everyone who helped organise YALC or helped out on the day were incredibly friendly and so enthusiastic and it was a real highlight of LFCC. Judging by Saturday, it was a super success and I have so many new books I need to read RIGHT NOW! 

Also I'm just really really looking forward to Thought Bubble later this year and being at a convention that is completely focused on comics, where creators aren't sidelined and segregated away from Game of Thrones actors. Because while I like looking at GoT actors I want comic creators to be the main attraction and things like Thought Bubble and Comic Art Festival and DICE and others are the absolute best for that.