Our favorite deejay and drummer Bmore Free helped lead a turntable workshop at Queer Rock Camp this past Wednesday in Olympia, WA. This is what they had to share with us:
Waiting for the Sound Transit bus at 2nd and Steward, listening to “Glass Tambourine” and wanting to do crazy tom rolls like Janet Weiss, I was headed on my adventure to Olympia. I was going to teach the turntables workshop at Queer Rock Camp. I felt admiration for the place I live during my travels. This is the place where things like Queer Rock Camp happen.
I had been corresponding with Ryan AKA deejay RJ//NIL through email. He deejays a night called Mkvltra at Le Voyeur every 2nd Saturday and was the other volunteer turntable facilitator. I got off the bus in the blazing sun in Oly and saw a tall figure wearing all black walking towards me. Yea that was him. Throughout our workshop I was enamored to meet another deejay who shared the same aspiration to explain the trade and passion to volunteer. I’m thankful to Queer Rock Camp for providing these kind of connecting community experiences.
We grabbed some coffee at Vita and headed to the school. Lincoln Elementary is where Queer Rock Camp happens. As we walked up to the doors we met Nate, the workshop coordinator. He led us to the library where we set up shop. It was awesome. We put the tables on this elevated platform and had a huge space with a giant white board to work with. By the time we set up all the equipment we had one hour to finalize the plan. We were going to introduce ourselves, talk about what kinda music got us into deejaying, ask them what they already know and want to know about turntables. We’d go over the equipment, demonstrate beat matches, transitions and invite campers to try it out for themselves. I have taught pre-school and elementary age students for the past six years but never middle/high school students so I was a bit curious as to how it would go.
As they began to file in I realized everyone was coming right from the drag workshop. There were Divine eyebrows, Cher wigs and Marilyn Manson eyes coming straight at us. Well…gaily forward. Appropriately, we had some vogue music playing for the entry. On the bus ride over I had been reading this book called Teacher Man by Frank McCourt and he mentioned something about how important and huge it can feel for middle/high school students to enter a classroom. The fashion in which they enter is something to take note of as a teacher. Anyway, I’m pretty sure voguing or catwalking into a classroom isn’t a bad sign.
We succeeded in covering the basics within that hour and people who wanted to had the opportunity to spin. We demonstrated with records but talked about how computers and iPods are also used. There was definitely some sweet dubstep coming from one of the camper’s iPods. Some of my favorite questions were: “Can you deejay on a Game Cube?” and “After we learn everything and we know everything, will there be a time in this workshop for us to dance?”
…and that there was.
RJ//NIL vs. Bmore Free QRC end of workshop set:
Cunty (the feeling) - Rageous Projecting Kevin Aviance
Azz Everywhere - Big Freedia
Come Together - L-Vis 1990
212 – Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay
Phantom - Justice
Genesis - Grimes
Blue Monday - New Order
Heart of Dust - Light Asylum
Side note: Bathroom Hi-jinx
What’s a reflection about a queer workshop without note of the bathroom hi-jinx that comes along for a gender queer person taking a bus through the state of Washington? As I mentioned earlier, I’m a newly certificated teacher, it’s summer, no job, I’m broke-living off of gift cards I received from parents of the previous year. So I hit up Starbucks multiple times on my journey. The first one was in Tacoma. I asked the woman behind the counter (who I read as a butch lesbian) for the key and she responded to me with: “the blue one there for ya”.
Next Starbucks on the way home, different gay. This time the barista was a flamer and he asked me which bathroom I’d prefer. I am just personally uncomfortable and awkward no matter what in navigating this situation so I said, “I don’t care”. He gave me a 5 digit number and I walked away. Then I laughed because I was like…which one did he give me? I asked him if it was men’s or women’s and he said women’s. I smiled and said thank you.