(#8) Go see this.

By this I mean Frances Ha. It's a film about a 27 year old New York woman trying to figure it out. Frances Ha. Written by Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach. Gerwig stars in the leading role. Basically Frances is best friends with Sophia. They live on Vanderbilt Ave in Brooklyn. They are like lesbian girlfriends without the sex. They have dreams of each making it big in their own right. Then Sophie decides she wants to move to Chelsea with a friend of hers. This begins the downward spiral of Frances's life. It's not really a downward spiral, though. Frances does accept Sophie is choosing something different for herself. And therefore she tries to make the best decisions she can for herself, albeit reluctantly and guided by faith.
I could totally relate to her epic aimlessness
I could totally relate to her epic aimlessness
Frances has a way of making her life sound better than it actually is (it's a trait I admire actually) ... she's a dancer, but not really, dates but not really, but the thing is whatever she does, she's present and vibrant and has this youthful quality ... it's a believable story, especially when she leaves this apartment she's sharing with these two trustfund type artists in Chinatown for her parents' in California. She's totally being taken care of and living it up knowing full well she has to go back to her own reality soon. She's sort of in denial about a lot in her life, but I see it as more hopeful. Hopeful things will shift in her direction. I think Frances Ha is a movie about spirit and taking yourself seriously. It's about love and friendship and jealousy and about how you just have to go with life sometimes. It's about money and class and how that changes relationships and it's just plain funny. We saw this tonight at the Laurelhurst Theater where we got chicken pizza and beer and popcorn and watched someone's vacation photos interspersed with the ads while we were waiting for the movie to begin. $4 for a ticket. I love Portland for that.
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Craftivism: Three Days of Crafting, Queers & Connection in NYC

What's craft? What's art? Who decides? And what does it mean for Queers? Craftivism, an upcoming exhibition, intends to peel some layers off these questions and present space for a community dialogue to talk about the intersection of present and past of craft as art and art as craft. International multi-media artist and curator Coral Short is behind this three-day event being held at Le Petit Versailles in the Lower East Side in New York City on July 12-14. The exhibition is filled with installations, video and workshops with approximately 15 performers and installation artists from 10 different cities.
Design by Andre Azevedo. Silk screen will be available during all events in the garden.
Design by Andre Azevedo. Silk screen will be available during all events in the garden.
According to Short's curatorial statement, "Craftivism is a welcoming art gathering that showcases an emerging generation of artists for three days. Queerness, feminism and textiles go hand in hand for many of these contemporary artists, as they rethink and reclaim craft in their own unique ways... These artists use their skill sets to fight patriarchy, transphobia and homophobia by creating a pop up community together in the lush blooming garden that is Le Petit Versailles." July 12 is opening night and there will be delicious cake by Quito, yarn portraits by Buzz Slutzky, textiles by Liz Collins, and a variety of installation art to get lost in.
Breastival Vestibule Installation by Rachael Shannon as seen at Transmodern Festival this year in Baltimore. It will be one of the installations at Craftivism next month.
Breastival Vestibule Installation by Rachael Shannon as seen at Transmodern Festival this year in Baltimore. It will be one of the installations at Craftivism next month.
Saturday brings a Circle and Potluck Brunch Panel where crafters will talk about the intersection of their politics and art. There are also a plethera of workshops that day. A donation of $15-30 is requested but all the workshops are NOTAFLOF aka No One Turned Away for Lack of Funds. Rachael Shannon from Baltimore will be facilitating a Crafting Circle where participants will go through a list of different questions regarding relationship to body/where our feelings about bodies come from and then have a discussion and/or craft about it. Brooklynite Kris Grey/Dr. Justin Credible will also be on hand to lead Craft-Identified: A Support Group to talk about craftphobia and academia's preference for the word "design." You can also involve yourself with BabySkinGlove hosting a baby craft circle and some special Magick to inspire artistic revival with Tif Robinette.
Gaycave by Caitlin Sweet, photo by Ty August Chance.
Gaycave by Caitlin Sweet, photo by Ty August Chance.
Sunday is busy, too, with more workshops. Make a headband with Heidi, learn about making craft a full time job with Wai Yant-Li, make a moving image with Zeesy Powers and examine the histories of craft and queer with Caitlin Rose. Sunday night also offers a ton of short videos featuring 16 artists from four countries and 10 cities [Berlin, Oakland, Montreal, Finland, Toronto, Baltimore. Philly, St. Johns Newfoundland, UK, New York] The Craftivism artists are: Alexis O’Hara, Allyson Mitchell, Anthony Privitera, BabySkinGlove, Bizzy Barefoot, Buzz Slutzky, Caitlin Sweet, Cat Mazza, Ezra Berkley Nepon, Heidi Nagtegaal, Janey Moffatt Laloë, Jason Penney, Jeni Little, Josh Vettivelu, Kailey Bryan, Kandis Friesen, Kate Sorensen, Killer Sideburns, Kris Grey, Liz Collins, Max Göran, Maya Suess, Mev Luna, Niknaz Tavakolian, Quito Ziegler, Rachael Shannon, Sabrina Ratté, T.L. Cowan, Tif Robinette, Tracey Bullington, Travis Meinolf, Tuesday Smillie, Zeesy Powers. I caught up with Short one night via Skype. Here Coral talks how Craftivism came about, the concept of social architecture and the difference between craft and art. How did this event come about? "I studied textiles in my undergrad at Concordia University in Montreal and ever since then textiles influenced the way I worked. But I’ve been noticing an evolution of craft. We can see each others work and we all influence each other’s work, but there is unique directions and paths we are working in. I see a queer aesthetic emerging and we can share it on the Internet in a way that we couldn’t do previously. For example, Tif [Robinette]. Her work just popped up on my feed in Facebook, I was like 'What is this,' and I just wrote to her and she's in the show. I feel like in the new craft movement there is a lot of healing around our bodies and gender, and there is a whole politic about nurturing each other. It's hard to put your finger on what queer craft is, but I see it as high experimentation, some raw DIY aesthetic and also creating social architecture - where we create an artistic environment that creates a space where we can feel at ease with each other, where queers feel completely comfortable. It's creating a space that’s ours, celebrating each other and ourselves. I’ve been thinking about curating Caitlin Sweet and Heidi Nagtegaal for some time, wanting these queer minds to meet. And this will further the momentum ball of the queer aesthetic, it's going to really be a catalyst moment for queer craft. When I got approached from Le Petit Versaillas about a show, I immediately thought Caitlin and Heidi needed to meet because not only are they super talented artists but they are organizers, too. There is so much talent in New York and I thought the queer infrastructure would swell. I put out an open call [for the exhibition]. Because of the Internet, things just move from queer family so quickly." What is the difference between craft and art? "Some people don’t see a difference – the institutions, the universities, they have been trying to take craft out of the naming of things and replacing it with other words. Craft is a radical form of making art. It has to do with class. What is high art? What is low art? These are loaded and problematic questions. In the show, we have a lot of crafting circles, it’s a constant dialogue. Craft can be anything from crocheting, knitting, sewing, ceramics, braiding. I definitey believe craft is art. How has craft changed over the years? "I think it has deepened and broadened in the last 10 to 20 years through the Internet and our more rapid travel. I found a few of my artists through Facebook! (Rachael Shannon, Max Goran and Tif Robinette) The call out for the videos was only on FB and people are delivering videos to me online through wetransfer. We live in a fast new age with all its pluses and minuses, but craft in fact helps us to slow down. We as textiles/ craft artists are taken more seriously than we used to be as we become more confident to take up more space as queers and feminists. I believe we are flourishing with each other’s support and often we get inspired by each other as we are in more dialogue than ever due the Internet and traveling. Artists are dreamers, visionaries living in our heads but then creating physicality for our thoughts. For the underground, the queers, the radicals are always one step ahead for all of time, always with change and revolution on our minds. Craft is a way to stay raw, real and connected for we are woven together in our queer kinship. Craftivism is a slow thoughtful activism, a strong powerful display of resistance. Craftivism is an established word. We are coming at it from a new angle. Personal is political and queer. None of our work is appropriative. I’m really excited to see the work, I think it’s going to be epic." Interested in getting involved? Volunteers are still needed. A week before the show opens [aka soon] artists will will begin to meet in the garden to start setting up and making a braid cave. People are welcome to join. Contact Coral at coralshort [at] gmail.com. The garden's July visiting hours are Wed-Sunday from 2-7PM. All events are rain or shine.
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15 Minutes with Patricia Racette

Patricia Racette was a good sport when my date unknowingly blocked her way to the stage during her Jan. 27 show at 54 Below. We were nestled in on the side, to the back of the piano (which actually made for a great view once my date turned their chair around), but what we did not know was that our seats were in direct route to the microphone. Of course I had to bring that up to Racette, who flashed us a gracious smile before getting up on stage, when we got on the phone. She laughed and said, “Oh that was you!?” It was then I learned her entrance was timed and she just barely made it to the mic on the beat. She did, however, and once she was there it was obvious she loves what she does. Her black, sequined flowered chiffon robe was fabulous, and she immediately started talking with the crowd. Performing her breakout cabaret album, "Diva on Detour," she kicked off her set with "I got Rhythm/Get Happy" (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin & Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler) and then worked her way to "Here's that Rainy Day" (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) which she admitted to the audience was what she sings in the shower. Racette also said she loves singing sad songs and listening to the lyrics of one particular piece, "You've Changed," (Clarie Fischer) prompted me to write "depressing" in the notes I was scribbling on the set list. Elton John was right, sad songs do say so much. Honoring her French-Canadian heritage, Racette performed four songs in that tongue. "You could say the French language has been chasing me all my life," she told the crowd. It was during a French medley ending with La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf/Marguerite Monnot & Louis Guglielmi) that we were able to experience a taste of her operatic flavor. The audience loved it and she said, "You all like the French stuff, eh? Me too!"
Patricia Racette during her show "Diva on Detour."
Operatically, Racette is a soprano and has appeared in some of the most famous opera houses in the world including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Paris Opera. If you missed her in January, don't worry- she'll be back at 54 Below in Midtown March 26-28 to perform from her "Diva on Detour" album. I highly recommend the show if you are looking for an intimate date night and to get out of your regular dinner, drinks and party routine. There's something romantic about being in a night club, with just a singer and pianist on stage sharing a table with strangers. Here Racette talks about preparing for a show, her favorite role and coming out (her wife is mezzo soprano singer Beth Clayton). What inspired you to record your first breakout cabaret album? And how did you decide on its name? This is coming full circle for me, it’s something I started out doing. Then I was introduced to and pursued my operatic career. It’s something I’ve always loved and always known how to do; it’s really a matter of returning to it. In 2004, I was invited to do a little slot in a concert in Santa Fe [where she and Clayton have a home] and they said do something different, not operatically, and I thought, ‘oh great, I will do some jazz songs or some cabaret songs.' We agreed what those songs would be and it took off from there. I’m not one to be in a recording studio and I told them that when GPR [the producers] approached me. They said, ‘Let’s turn the studio into a live studio.' We recorded it in front of a live audience. Beth has coined the phrase, ‘I thrive on live,’ I really love the energy of the audience as being part of the performance. When they told me we could do this and have the audience to record and get what we needed, I thought it was great. In terms of 'Diva on Detour,' Beth and I were talking about what I should call this and it just seemed so completely accurate and appropriate to call it that. How much do you actually collaborate with Beth? We were lamenting when the CD notebook came out because Craig Terry, my pianist, did in fact arrange a couple of the songs but he only arranged one song himself. Everything else has been a collaboration. Quite honestly Beth has been a part of that collaboration, obviously I have, and from time to time Craig’s husband, Hugh Russell, has also been a contributor. I’ve read in print that Craig has been called music director which is not entirely accurate because some of these songs in fact are medleys that I’ve done before I even met Craig. I musically direct it with assistance mostly from Craig and also from Beth and occasionally from Hugh. How do you decide on the order of the set list? Does that happen right when you get on stage or does it depend on the night? It’s rather spontaneous and what’s interesting about doing these live shows is that you can play around with that order and see how it resonates with the audience. It’s very interesting for us to see that. Do you have a ritual before you go on stage? It’s sort of the same for opera. I keep calm. I keep focused all day, keep somewhat quiet and I do a really good warm up. For the cabaret, I look at all my music, I look at my note cards for the chatter and the patter and I just keep my memory very, very fresh. Do you ever have performance anxiety? I think it would be very untrue if any performer said they didn’t. I do. If anything the anxiety is before, once I’m up there I feel like I’m home. It seems like you embody the emotions of the songs you perform and are able to create a really intimate experience. This is the treat of doing music of this genre, you can really be intimate and tell these very subtle stories as opposed to the opera, which is usually such a grand event, if only through the number of participants that it takes to make that event happen. So it’s a nice change for me as a performer and as an artist.
With Pianist Craig Terry
Do you have a favorite role? I think Tosca is my favorite at the moment. I love the character; Musically, vocally it fits me like a glove and I like the female she is. So often in opera - let’s just put it this way - you don’t find the most feminist of creatures in your leading ladies. It’s just great to portray a character that takes fate into their own hands. That’s fun to realize dramatically. You did an “It Gets Better” video filmed at the Metropolitan Opera with Beth. What was that experience like for you? What sort of feedback did you receive? It was really neat. I was hosting one of the HD broadcasts at the Met and they filmed it in the hallway. Beth was with me so we had the opportunity to do that together. It was a privilege and an honor to do that - to be able to have our sentiments and thoughts on the subject known and also appear as we are- which is out and proud. In that video you talked about how you came out in 2002 in print and you said it was scary for a moment. You said the price wasn’t worth paying to not be true to yourself and your relationship. What article are you referring to and was it something you planned? The article was for our trade magazine, Opera News, and it was my first time on the cover and they were doing a feature on my career. At that point they didn’t know I was planning on coming out in print. Beth and I discussed that it was time to answer those questions not just specifically and honestly but with the celebration of what we actually feel about our life together. To dodge the question and act ashamed didn’t match what we really think and feel. Also, for me to not be an honest person or not be myself 100 percent, I felt that my art, my artistic voice, would suffer. How did it change for you? I was scared for a little bit. You have to work so very, very hard to succeed in this profession. I had achieved much and wanted to achieve more still and I didn’t know if this was going to be a great impediment to doing so. I was scared that the bigotry was going to ruin what I had achieved and not allow me to do more. But honestly I have not seen any evidence of that. Where in New Hampshire did you grow up? How did you end up in Texas for college? A town called Bedford. And, there was a great jazz school in Texas. I still ended up in opera, kicking and screaming. I wanted to do jazz and cabaret but it became very clear early on that my abilities at that time were certainly best led to the operatic genre. I had voice lessons every week and I was obligated to learn repertoire and quite honestly it came very naturally to me. It sort of took on a life of its own and took me along with it. What do you do to unwind after a show? It varies, sometimes I’ll go out with friends. I go home and I might have a little bite to eat but literally I just sit there. Maybe take a hot bath. Sometimes we’ll go out to a party - but it depends how busy you are and what you have going on. You have to be very guarded about staying healthy and keeping your energy up to the best because it’s an enormous amount of energy being a performer. What’s next for you? I am doing Manon Lescaut at the Washington National Opera, and then I come back and do the shows for 'Diva on Detour' in March, which I’m very excited about. Then we go back to Santa Fe and check on things. We come back here [to NYC] to the Metropolitan Opera to do Les Dialogues des Carmelites, opening May 4. Catch Patricia Racette at 54 Below on March 26, 29 & 30 at 8:30PM and on March 27 & 28 at 7PM. 54 Below, "Broadway's Nightclub," is located at 254 West 54th Street in Manhattan.
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Get yourself a good haircut, call Riki

Shameless plug. I love Riki Razo. I met him through a friend who brought me to his house in Williamsburg for a haircut. I am mostly up for anything with my hair, as long as it somewhat looks the same. I like deviations from my classic look. He's easy with his scissors and yes, on the eyes. And he's got great stories. And sometimes, if you treat him right, he'll make a house call. Did I mention he's a DJ? [Check out his next gig here] And tells good stories about the dudes he meets on the street?
A total babe. And I totally trust him with my hair. [Photo stolen from Facebook]
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Behind the scenes with Maggie Cee

In the Femme world, pretty much everyone knows Maggie Cee. I have known about The Femme Show for a while now (but sadly have never seen it!) but met Maggie Cee (well, virtually) when I decided to advertise in the show’s program this year. Not only was she super excited to get support from a Femme-owned business, but she also sent me a really amazing handmade card in the mail to thank me. When it comes to classy, it doesn’t get much better than that. The Femme Show was created in 2007 when Maggie Cee was searching for a place to incorporate her queerness with dancing. She tried her hand at being a drag king, but found it didn’t quite fit – and since at that time she was grappling with her own Femme identity, The Femme Show was born. “I knew there was a community around it in Boston because we have an awesome social group that has been in existence since about 2004,” Maggie Cee said. “I knew there was an audience where I could get some people to perform with me and that is sort of where it started.” In their own words, The Femme Show is “a Boston-based group of queer performers who bring deep, personal explorations of queer and subversive femininity and fem/femme identity to the stage in a fun, eclectic variety show. This is a queer art for queer people: challenging, introspective, brazen, funny, sexy and gritty but always powerful.”
Maggie Cee on stage.
Maggie Cee took some time out of her schedule to talk about The Femme Show, how she defines “Femme” and why it’s important for her to continue to be provocative in her performance and art. Can you talk with me about the planning that goes on? There’s a bit of a cycle. It has changed through the years based on various life events and what’s going on and what we want to do. The basic cycle is we have a show in the fall in Boston, which is usually the time we bring in new artists and show new work. I start planning for that in June. And then because of my work obligations, we usually do a show and wrap it up and start booking shows for the spring. We try not to perform in November and December after the fall show. That’s when I’m booking shows, getting ready for the spring and by January, if we’re going to go on tour in the summer, I am working on booking that. It’s pretty much year round. How do you choose performers and is there a core group that you work with every year? It varies. The group that we started with, we had about four or five people who were the same for three years with other folks coming and going. At this point there are three of us who were at the very first show who are still performing. It’s actually become a smaller group and we have gone through ups and downs with how we operate. This year was a year where there was just me and two other folks who were returning members, so we had a lot of new members. It was actually one of the highest quality and best shows that we had, so I’m really excited about the direction we’re going to go in with these folks. If somebody were interested in performing with you, how would they go about doing that? I am happy to talk with folks any time of the year although if people want to be in the show in Boston they should probably be getting in touch with me during the summer. I really look for people who have something to say about Femme identity and Queer Femme identity. They don’t have to be Femme-identified; we take all types of identities. Generally, I just want to know what kind of work you are doing, what it’s about and where you have performed. I pretty much always want to see somebody perform or at least see their work on video or read their work if they are a writer. I find people wind up joining the core group who start out as guest artists in one of the cities that we travel to, or I find people who might contact me and they turn out to be a good fit. We don’t have a formal application period, it’s sort of like e-mail me, and depending on what’s going on and if you have something that might be a good fit, we’ll go from there. Have you ever had to turn away somebody because they did not fit with what you’re doing? Oh yeah. I definitely have seen pieces, including performances I like very much in general. Pieces that wouldn’t have stood out as misogynistic in a different context but when you put it in a show called The Femme Show I felt like they weren’t a good fit. There is also the sort of things, like, if you are just going to be Femme on stage, and be like ‘here I am in a frilly costume, I’m dancing to a Dolly Parton song’ that may not be a good fit. I want to know what is the sub context? What are you saying with it? What makes this a different take? There are a lot of Femmes all over the place doing shows like Femmes doing burlesque, Femmes doing circus art, Femmes doing whatever. We are more about the idea of Femmes than Femmes doing things, if that makes sense. You also created In the Streets Productions and I’m wondering what kind of response you have gotten from creating your production company and The Femme Show? The production company mainly ends up looking like two things – it winds up being sort of me helping other folks produce, and collaborating with other folks who want to produce. I haven’t put on a ton of shows that aren’t The Femme Show because it’s a year round process and as long as there is demand for The Femme Show and I’m happy doing it I don’t really want to take away from that. I don’t necessarily want to take energy and put it on something else when there’s still a lot of desire for this out there. What would you say is the most grueling thing about putting on The Femme Show? I think for me some of the hardest parts are also the best parts. I’m somebody who has a lot of anxiety around basic interpersonal communication. There was a period of my life where I was pretty constrained by my social anxiety and the lingering effects of that can make it hard for me to be in public. Networking is not easy for me, doing social media can make me anxious and if something goes wrong I get really upset about it, maybe disproportionately. On the flip side when all that stuff is going well, when I am making connections, creating community and getting to know people really well in a short period of time because we are traveling together and making art together, that’s sort of the best of it. I get a lot of help on admin and logistical stuff, which definitely helps. How do you define Femme? I try to avoid that question but I say that my definition of Femme is about the power of choosing to celebrate the expression of femininity in a patriarchal culture. To me it's absolutely 100 percent open to people who want to claim it and that’s really important to me. Do you think Femme can also be not Queer? Or does it have to be Queer? That’s one piece I have to say I’m conflicted about. I have yet to meet a straight-identified person who is saying I want to identify this way and I want to be in this community. I think I would want to welcome somebody like that. I’ve also noticed that the word Femme is showing up a lot more than it used to in mainstream fashion magazine headlines. Are people appropriating this or is it just showing up? Part of my Femme identity, for me, comes from being feminine in Queer and dyke communities that are masculine-oriented and while I do get rewarded in certain ways from society for looking the way I look, in the community that is most important to me, the opposite is often happening. So, I wonder what the experiences of straight ciswomen are if you are celebrating your femininity in patriarchy for yourself. I totally understand that regardless of sexual orientation that should be honored and respected and I’m not going to say what words they can and can’t use, but I feel like that’s different. Because if you are a straight-identified person in straight society you are going to get so much reinforcement and privilege. As a performer what emotions do you prefer to provoke out of your audience? It depends on the piece. I do a gamut of things. I really love making people laugh and that’s awesome. A huge part of my work is the humor. For me the most important thing is saying stuff that people aren’t saying. If I have something to say that I feel like I’m not seeing other artists, performers, people in my community talking about – that’s the piece I am going to choose to make over any piece I could be making. I have found that every time I do that people who have been having the same thoughts and feelings respond to it and say 'this is something that matters to me, too.'
Talking Femme with Maggie Cee
Is it scary for you to put stuff out there that you haven’t heard Queer people talking about? Yeah. It’s terrifying. This fall I did a piece that was about Femmes fucking Butches, which is totally something that gets talked about, but I was interested in exploring how hard it was for me and how long it took me as somebody who is a bottom a lot of the time but who also totally enjoys fucking people. This is not something that everybody is experiencing and I understand that, but I think there’s something really different about the dynamics of how you are allowed to enjoy fucking somebody when maybe they weren’t supposed to want it. Or maybe I don’t really like doing this or maybe I’m not good at it, and it took me years to realize I totally liked doing it. The reason that I sometimes didn’t was when I had partners who said ‘yes I want you to fuck me, I want this, I want that’ but because they were having their own issues with sexuality and body, would be completely unresponsive. So I would kind of check out because it’s not really fun to fuck somebody who is not really responding to you. I was trying to make this piece to talk about some of this and I found it to be really hard for me to express. What I say in the piece is that you have to be careful not to enjoy it too much because if you enjoy it too much and [your partner] didn’t want it later or the next person you fuck didn’t want it, and you wanted it too much it would be like you were pressuring them, that you weren’t being good as a partner or something. It’s a little nebulous; it’s a lot easier to say to Queers you are misogynist because you are ignoring all the Femmes in the bar. To keep up with all things The Femme Show, visit their site www.thefemmeshow.com. They are also on Twitter at @thefemmeshow and are on Facebook, of course.
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To the beat – an interview with Tif Wolf

BY LIZ GOLD Self defense moves. Pumping music. A slamming cardio workout. I mean, really, what else do you need in a fitness class? Tif Wolf, a karate instructor at the Center for Anti-Violence Education in Park Slope, is all about a mix of those three ingredients along with the essential - the beats must match the moves. Wolf, who was also drummer of the now defunct Brooklyn-based punk rock emo band Triple Crème, has been teaching a new class at CAE called Fight Back Fitness, which rolls endurance (aka reps galore), some serious cardio and music you’ll probably want to dance to. All for an hour. All for $10 (at least for now).
Tif Wolf (top) and fellow Triple Creme band members
If this sounds like an ad, sorry. It’s that good. I’ve been a few times and I am seriously sore for like three days. Which, you know, is the point. The idea for the class came twofold – Wolf had started doing more cross-training in her own workouts taking bootcamp and spin. While she was hating on the lunges, squats and ab work because they hurt so good, she loved the music – even though her bootcamp instructor could not match a beat to the techniques to save her life.
“It would drive me crazy when she would say, OK run in place or do this but don’t do it to the count of the music because it’s too slow,” Wolf said. “There’s no point to having music unless it’s being integrated into what you’re doing. And that’s also the drummer in me. If it’s not on the beat, I can’t do it.” The idea, however, came to fruition last fall when there were numerous assaults on women coming out of train stations in Park Slope, not far from CAE’s space. Wolf thought it would be great to create a space for everyone – of all genders – to come and learn a few techniques without having to attend a full-on self defense class. “Self defense classes are awesome but they can be a little intimidating for people to go to as well,” she said. “I like the idea of just having a lot of repetitions in class so it’s in your body and you don’t really need to think about it.”
A recent Fight Back Fitness class held at CAE in Park Slope
The idea was to merge the bootcamp style so you are getting your hour workout in, while also incorporating self defense techniques such as a block or a knee to the head, while say, doing a lunge. “It is all really easy to incorporate once you think about it,” Wolf said. “The music is just to keep it light and keep you moving through the class.” So then the question becomes, what comes first – the music or the moves? “When I first started this class I was thinking about moves that would make sense. It’s a work in progress," Wolf explained. "For me it was first coming up with some combos that make sense while at the same time coming up with a playlist. I had sort of fallen off the musical world for a long time. After Triple Creme broke up I couldn’t listen to rock music for a little while because I was sad. So this kind of made me start listening to new music.”
Triple Creme in their epic video, "Team Queen"
But the music can be tricky. What Wolf thought would work wouldn’t and vice versa – and it had to be in the flow of a class. A typical class starts with loosening the joints, moving into some cardio, lunges, groundwork (have you ever kicked from the ground listening to Karen O. from the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs? It’s pretty bad ass), kicking and squats. “Combos change,” Wolf said, “but that first chunk of time is pretty set and I have an idea of what the pace of the song needs to be to get you the proper kind of workout.” Fight Back Fitness is every Monday from 7 to 8PM at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, 327 7th Street at 5th Avenue in Park Slope. To RSPVP your spot, contact Tif at Tiffany_Wolf@hotmail.com.
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