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Yeah, that’s me. Front left.

I’ve been part of a dance group for around 3 years, predominantly performing belly dance. My talented and committed teacher Maggie Zimon put together a choreography with Jovi Baniela Alvarez, another girl in our group, and her husband Daniel Harding, that combined Burlesque/Moulin Rouge style with Zouk Lambada, a Brazillian partner dance, for our most recent show in December 2014.

Rehearsal followed rehearsal, with yet more rehearsals. It was a lot of fun but extremely challenging; it was our longest sequence yet and 3 of us hadn’t attempted Zouk Lambada before. I’d never considered dancing in a partnership previous to this show because I’m too much of an independent dancer. That was a massive battle for me but I got the hang of it. I’m not as polished and professional as theatre performers for example, but I think I (and the rest of the group) deserve a pat on the back. Enjoy!

Visit Bellydance in Manchester or learn more about Zouk in Manchester, here.


Road trip: Bruk Up in Birmingham

Last night I travelled to Birmingham with some of my clubbing friends to a monthly broken beats and house night called Bruk Up.

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It took place at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, a music venue that has a distinctly soulful vibe going on.

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Bruk Up is definitely one for the dancers; there were break dancers, jazz dancers and even tap dancing. I’m not sure what style my moves come under but they seemed to work. There were observers too but the majority of people are there to dance and involve themselves wholly in the music.

The energy in there was amazing and it was pretty cool to share the dancefloor with Detroit musician Amp Fiddler, who had been performing in another part of the venue, for a few minutes.

It was great to find a significant amount of people committed to a dance culture rare to see in UK clubs.

This video of one of the many dance offs captures a little bit of what went down. I will definitely be back.

 

The final Bruk Up of 2014 is Saturday December 6th. Full details are yet to be announced online but check out their website here.


Reflecting on completing the Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights MOOC

Digital Marketing

Education isn’t a topic I usually cover on here but I think it’s fitting to blog about recently completing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Why? Well, one: the course topic was about digital marketing and I’m a blogger. Admittedly I take a relaxed, creative stance towards Gone Out but blogging isn’t just a fun spare-time activity, it’s a core area of digital marketing. And two: I work in marketing full time. It’s always beneficial to develop professionally so with permission from my boss, I got started.

The free course, hosted on a closed-license platform you have to register for, was ran by digital marketing and business experts Lisa Harris and Tom Chapman from the University of Southampton. Participants were able to utilise traditional learning resources such as videos and reading material, with the additional benefit of discussion forums, downloadable material and interactive maps so we could see where everyone on the course is from. There was a large UK contingent but there were also Spanish, US and Argentinian participants among others.

I worked to the topic breakdown provided under the platform’s 3 week sections. I found this easy to handle as part of my work day but would recommend that if you need to, ask you manager or superior if that’s okay. The bite size topic breakdowns formed discussions, surveys, videos and articles. There were various topics I found interesting and engaging, including the fact the glossary contained an explanation of who Bruce Willis is.

In all seriousness, I began the course by learning about storytelling strategies. Business owners and marketing staff from various companies spoke about the methods they use to tell a story about their brand. Before anything, we considered the concept of knowing what your audience wants. It’s a basic but essential part of marketing. It’s common sense that, when looking at the web today, marketers should consider whether consumers want to be engaged with or communicated to. This raised many questions. For example: how do we engage? Does my audience want to watch YouTube videos of your brand activities such as staff working on an eye-catching project? Do people want to share their stories about the brand on Facebook? Do they want to use Twitter to ask you questions about a product? Is a static website good enough? The weird thing about this is, I know it’s important but I wasn’t fully aware of how important. It’s easy to put material together just because you like it but if your audience doesn’t care, it’s not going to be popular, sharable or sellable. This topic area further emphasised the need to go back to basics every time.

We also considered devices and how marketers can adapt to presenting material suitable for specific devices, customer journeys, digital assets, privacy and targeted advertising, analytics, web observing and gamification.

The Digital Assets topic interested me more than I expected. There were both personal and professional aspects to consider. It left me wondering about the online services we use and whether we are in complete control of the information we upload to them and update them with. Essentially many of these services can cancel accounts at any time should they need to. What would happen to your photos? What would happen to the digital footprint you’ve created? Where do your downloaded music tracks, books and films go? These services do provide terms and conditions so I think it’s very much worth reading them if you want to be completely aware of what you’ve agreed into. Oh, back up your images on your computer too – like I didn’t when I deleted MySpace. My picture of Amy Winehouse smiling into my camera when I saw her live is now lost in the digital ether. Boohoo. You may say deleting my profile without removing the images was a silly thing to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear how many people have a relaxed attitude to displaying their personal content on the web.

Professionally, I believe it’s about being as clear as possible as what a business is going to do with prospects and customers information. Regardless of whether marketers think people are going to read the terms and conditions or not, it’s not cool to be fill them up with jargon so people unwittingly sign up for something they aren’t entirely clear about.

The course has opened my eyes to new and previously used digital marketing methods, both in my job and for this blog. It’s a good idea to be more mindful of my actions as a marketer, especially as one that aims to engage readers, users and customers in an ethical and forward-thinking manner. This course was a great way for me to consider developing new working patterns and learn about what is right and wrong in the world of digital marketing.

Find out more about the Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights course I did, and others at futurelearn.com.


I Heart Berlin

My last-minute trip to Berlin exceeded my expectations. Everyone I know that’s visited, said I would have an amazing time. But I believe you never really know what a place is like until you’ve immersed yourself in it. So I was taken aback at how right they were.
Berlin Sights
Top 3 things I did
1: I went out, of course (I didn’t do the whole techno/house ‘thing‘ though). It’s my kind of place because everyone goes out late. It’s also very relaxed and I didn’t feel any kind of danger travelling through the city on my own at night. For the moment I wasn’t alone, I was very lucky to have a guide in my old flatmate who now lives in Berlin. It was mainly down to her that I had so much fun. We watched live comedy and drank tea cocktails at t Berlin in Kreuzberg, sat with a black and white straw model at Sameheads in Neukolin and I went on a solo mission one evening, where I danced to Grandmaster Flash and Maceo from De La Soul at Cassiopeia in Friedrichshain. My stay was made complete by “singing” along to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ with the most amazing gay guys at Privatleben in Prenzlauer Berg. I would recommend them all.
Berlin Fun2: East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall). A great living piece of history that gives people the opportunity to actively learn and consider. I have many emotions about it. For me, it raises questions about what life was like on either side and what it means for the city now.
East Side Gallery3: Friedrichshain district. Just walking through this part of East Berlin is very cool. The grafitti, market stalls, cafes and shops are super interesting. It’s a shame I didn’t get to experience more of it in the day time. I definitely will be visiting here when I come back.
Walking Around

The 3 main things I took away from the trip are:

1: It’s famous history isn’t hidden away and the way Berlin and its people have reacted to it in a positive manner reflects a progressive city which is accepting of lots of different cultures.

2: The people I met were lovely. Straightforward, kind and friendly.

3: I didn’t ever feel like I was anywhere else. Berlin has a very strong identity.

Berlin really did steal my heart. I could go on about it even more but essentially Berlin is an experience to make your own. A must see city and definitely one I have to visit again.


Prepping for Berlin

I’ve booked a last-minute trip to the German capital and I’m pretty excited. When I get the chance to travel, I grab the opportunity with both hands.

Top of my to-do list, of course, is clubbing. House nights to be precise. I might be a bit stuck seen as, according to every travel guide I’ve read, techno is the dominant genre in the city. I don’t mind a bit of it here and there, especially Detroit style, but it’s just not my go-to. I mean, I could just go to a night to ‘experience’ it. But as I’m meeting with up with a friend who’s independent and may have other plans apart from seeing me, the debauchery isn’t exactly suited.

It’s apparent that, after doing a little more research, Berlin’s music scene doesn’t begin and end with techno. I’ve already found 2 deep house nights taking place on the night I arrive.

J.A.W , Floating Points, Sadar Bahar and Andrew Ashong are playing at basement club Prince Charles, while Deep Fried hosts Jovonn and Arnaldo (from Manchester!). Even Berghain, the club many consider to be the utopia of techno, is showcasing dub gods The Bug and Mala while I’m there.

I’ve heard that Salon-Zur wilden Renate is a good club to go to for less techy vibes from Berlin-based DJs. It’s good to check out the local talent and I love this mix from Couleur, who appears to play there quite regularly. If this is anything like what’s in store when I visit Berlin, I’ll be more than happy. Get me there, now.


Southport Weekender: The Big 50 – highlights

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There’s so much to do at Southport Weekender but the 50th celebrations, which ended yesterday morning at 2am, were even busier. There were so many artists there I wanted to see plus the 2 additional stages since my last visit in 2012; the Funkbase Dome and The Inn On The Green, made it an even bigger event.

 

The Southport wall

The Southport wall

 

I’ve worked out that I partied for approximately 24 hours over the 3 day weekend and that’s hard work, even for someone who’s been 8 times. I fought through the grumpy moments, the ‘my legs feel like they’re made of lead’ moments and made the most of Southport Weekender 50. Once I get on the dance floor, all of those negative feelings disappear. Friends new and old are there to give you the biggest smiles, take photos, laugh and joke while the most amazing performers and DJs play out some of the best sets/performances around. Perfect. Missing out on Tall Black Guy, Osunlade and Exist (At Jazz and Karizma) wasn’t cool though.

Check out some of my pictures and highlights below. If you were there, I hope it brings back good memories! And if you weren’t, make sure you’re there for the next party.

Suncebeat Dome

Suncebeat Dome

Suncebeat Dome

Who I saw: Ben Brophy, Kenny Dope, DJ Spen, Rainer Truby (Sunday after party), Lay-Far (Sunday after party), Souldynamic (Sunday after party)

The Suncebeat Dome was the first place I set foot into on Friday evening, to catch up with friends from Preston. My friend and I intended to go straight into The Funkbase to see Omar but the detour was much welcomed and Ben Brophy set us nicely for the evening ahead. We also bumped into Omar in there later on in the evening (or was it Saturday?) and I got a kiss on the cheek after congratulating him on his performance. Yeah, I’m showing off.

Kenny Dope’s 2am house set on Friday/Saturday didn’t disappoint. The dome was packed to the brim and he brought it. Kenny Dope is a must see for me – he was one of the first DJs I heard at my first Southport (SPW 40… and one of the first ever ‘proper’ DJs too) and I’m still absolutely in love with the way he knows how to put a set together. It was full of bass, soul and fantastic vibes. Just amazing.

The dome was also the last place I visited at the Sunday after party. Souldynamic played a beautiful string-laden deep house track filled the air (track ID, please) so I closed my eyes for a moment and all was at peace.

Favourite track:  I Don’t Know Why (I Love You) – Kenny Dope mix – played by Kenny Dope

 

Beat Bar

Marcos Valle

Marcos Valle

Who I saw: Alexander Nut, Marcus Valle, Ronnie Herel (Sunday after party)

I was all set for a Friday night session in here but instead I got to see Alexander Nut for 5 minutes. Gutted. I’ll be ensuring I catch up him with him, Tall Black Guy and Fatima & The Eglo Live Band when I get the opportunity.

Sunday was a more fruitful day. Marcos Valle’s bossa nova vibes were perfect for the most chilled day of the weekender. His music (except the track below) is new to me but ever so welcome, especially as I got to do some samba dancing I’d learnt from my Brazillian fitness teacher. I love how Southport Weekender provides the capacity to see trusted favourites alongside providing a musical education.

Later on that evening, I enjoyed what was rare for me that weekend. A full set. I can’t fault Ronnie Herel and I have to say props to him for his knowledge of music, skills and fitting ‘Lay It Down’ by Bugz In The Attic into a classic r’n’b set. He made me slide across that dance floor. What a guy.

Favourite track:  Marcos Valle – Crickets Sing For Anamaria

 

The Powerhouse

The Powerhouse

The Powerhouse

Who I saw: Terry Hunter, Seth Troxler, The Martinez Brothers, Kerri Chandler & Friends, Basement Boys

The Powerhouse has always been a favourite for me but it wasn’t as much of a base as it has in the past. I managed to have a dance session on Saturday though, catching the last of Seth Troxler, plus The Martinez Brothers and Kerri Chandler & Friends.

Kerri Chandler & Friends

Kerri Chandler & Friends

Hands in the air moments go to the 15 minutes I enjoyed of Terry Hunter’s set and Kerri Chandler’s talented new band. There were guest performances by Robert Owens (who dedicated ‘Tears’ to the recently departed Frankie Knuckles), Arnold Jarvis and the guy that sang on Kerri’s remix of ‘You Are In My System’. I’m so sorry I don’t know his name; he raised our spirits at 5.30am, for sure.

The Basement Boys (DJ Spen, Teddy Douglas, Karizma, Thommy Davis) reunion on Sunday evening is there in my top moments. The ultimate joy of gospel house, disco, deep house and soul was there in abundance. So fabulous; I danced for 2 hours straight and couldn’t have cared less who was watching.

Basement Boys

Basement Boys

Favourite track: There are loads I don’t have the track ID for; a mix of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, Seth Troxler’s last track and Terry Hunter’s gospel vibes but I have to say when Basement Boys played To The Rock by VMC (DJ Spen & The Muthafunkas mix), I lost my mind.

 

Funkbase

Spinderella

Spinderella

Who I saw: Omar, Spinderella, Faith Evans, EZ, Miguel Migs (Sunday after party)

I was so impressed with Omar.  It’s testament to his longevity when he can sing a classic like ‘Nothing Like This’ alongside the recent release ‘It’s So’ and get the same euphoric reception. I loved his performance, especially his super duper voice.

I was pleased to catch a little of Spinderella, who played some hip-hop classics from the likes of The Fugees, but after a 6-hour journey to Minehead earlier that day we were starting to flag at this point and it was bed time.

EZ had me feeling like a 17-year old again on Saturday afternoon. I genuinely forgot of how much of a garage queen I was and a couple of us in our group had stories to tell of our past clubbing lives while we danced along. Such a good set; he had the crowd in the palm of his hand and it was absolutely packed with old school tracks and a few newbies such as SBTRKT. Vibes alive!

Favourite track:  Y-Tribe – ‘Enough Is Enough’ (played by DJ EZ)

 

Main stage

Chaka Khan and Incognito

Chaka Khan and Incognito

Who I saw: Incognito and Chaka Khan

It was an absolute privilege to see this lady perform with Incognito. She sang ‘Ain’t Nobody’, ‘I Feel For You’, ‘Through The Fire’… they were all in there. My absolute favourites were ‘I’m Every Woman’ and ‘ I Know You, I Live You’. If anyone wants to know, she’s record perfect even after all these years. Plus she’s absolutely stunning and has a great stage presence. Every kinds of perfect.

Favourite track: ‘I Know You, I Live You’ performed by Chaka Khan


Sounds From The Other City Festival… from a staff perspective

This is what my bank holiday Sunday, helping out at Sounds From The Other City, looked like. Some fun, but mostly ish shots of Salford that weren’t very well thought out. I had a job to do, you see.

Before you check the pictures out, if you’re thinking of helping out at a festival this summer, here’s what I’ve found:

Be prepared for quiet periods

There will also be insanely busy moments

Expect the unexpected as there will be last minute changes

Smile and work hard, you never know who’ll you meet

You’ll meet so many people, laugh loads and get to enjoy live music people are prepared to pay their hard-earned cash on

You may miss out on the entertainment depending on your role so anticipate less and you will get more

Anyway, here are my pictures (don’t expect much)…

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This weekend, I would most like to… be a music festival volunteer

sftoc

When Sounds From The Other City’s (SFTOC) organisers took to Twitter looking for volunteers to man their 10th anniversary party taking place this Sunday (04/05), I decided to go ahead and make the most of the opportunity.

Free access to see the likes of Rosie Lowe, PINS, Werkha, enjoy food (prepared and served by Drum and Baste, Fire and Salt BBQ and Deli Lama) and drink plus the opportunity to make new contacts at this much-loved festival are obvious reasons for me to offer my services.

I also loved the unique, off the wall vibe when I attended in the past, such as being able to walk through Salford to discover the madness of Hotpants Romance in the middle of a pub and this time around, I’m intrigued at being able to dance to jungle in a church. So I was more than interested in being a part of it all.

Pre-event

I was invited by Jamie, SFTOC’s lovely volunteer organiser lady, to Islington Mill for a meeting with my fellow volunteers on Wednesday. We got to know one another and learn about the SFTOC venues. We also met Mark and Riv, who form the rest of the management team, were briefed on the stages plus given a tour of the venues.

Jamie assigned roles to each member of the group, including ticket exchange roles, manning the various venues such as The Old Pint Pot and The Angel Centre. I was told that I’d be Jamie’s right-hand man, keeping a eye on everything going on. Which is pretty exciting.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and experience what promises to be a great day, from an operational point of view. I’ll be tweeting updates and pictures on the day @karolynsgoneout and afterwards there’ll be full report of what it’s like to be a music festival volunteer, here. There are so many festivals going on this summer, in the UK and abroad, perfect whether you want work experience, the chance to see some of your favourite artists for free or just have a laugh.

You can pick up a SFTOC ticket from skiddle.com or in person at Piccadilly Records on Oldham Street and Common on Edge Street.


In a purple haze

It’s obvious from my ADTV review but Prince and 3rd Eye Girl’s show at the Academy last week affected me. I don’t want to go on about it but I can only reflect on my thoughts over these past few days. Basically, I’ve become a genuine fan after years of being curious about Prince’s work.

Prince is currently concentrating on guitar-led rock’n’roll for the upcoming 3rd Eye Girl album, Plectrum Electrum.  It’s never been a go to genre for me (my cravings for his soulful side has meant I’ve had Breakfast Can Wait on repeat),  but I couldn’t help but being absolutely drawn in by watching a band that knows it inside out. I’m grateful to have learnt about a style of music I respected but never fully understood.

I do believe, this is exactly how it should be done:


I agree with gender equality, just not comedy panel shows

It’s been widely reported of late how head of the BBC’s television output, Danny Cohen, told the Observer: “We’re not going to have any more panel shows with no women on them. It’s not acceptable.”

Some may be cheering at this news but I was gutted after re-reading The Guardian’s coverage. I somehow, desperately, thought he’d said: “We’re not going to have any more panel shows ever again.”

I dislike comedy panel shows intensely, regardless of whether they have a gender equality policy or not.

I haven’t always disliked them. I believe they were – or could – be original and interesting. I loved Shooting Stars after hearing my friend Angela singing George Dawes’ songs down the corridors at school.

 

I enjoyed the Mark Lamarr/Simon Amstell eras of Never Mind The Buzzcocks, because they were the right side of mean to people who deserved it, and I even like the Lee Mack versus David Mitchell battles on Would I Lie To You?

 

Mock The Week and QI (bar Stephen Fry) are the main offenders from the BBC while 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Celebrity Juice just add insult to injury.

To illustrate my point fully, here’s my interpretation of the format of every comedy panel show on television at the moment.

  • Opening theme
  • The host says something smart and usually inappropriate about the subject matter of the programme. They introduce the panels, which usually include an upcoming comedian and a well-known celebrity, and the team captains. Everyone claps
  • The host may something to one of the team captains. It’s usually insulting but it’s OK because the audience is laughing
  • The host then introduces the first round
  • The round begins and someone unwittingly says something that’s ripe for a good old piss take. The comedian on the opposing team takes the piss and it’s really mean. Everyone (even the victim to show they don’t take themselves seriously), including the host, laughs hysterically and claps
  • Every time a comedian tells a joke, the dialogue stops. The audience claps loads and the comedian sits and stars into the middle distance pretending not to love that everyone’s cheering and whistling for them
  • The next round begins and the piss taking begins again. The person (usually the guest celebrity) who’s being made fun of shows some fire and stands up for themselves. The piss taker gets annoyed because they’ve been outsmarted. They shout over the celebrity to prove they are much more intelligent, funny, credible, etcetera. The audience whistles and claps. The piss-taker smile smugly as the applause continues. The celebrity isn’t offended really because they’ve gotten some publicity for their new product.
  • Yet more piss-taking continues into the third round. The host might have a go also. Someone may even walk out of the studio. The audience continues to find it funny whatever happens
  • The winning team is announced
  • The host ends the show with yet another observation no-one in real life would laugh at, but the audience does

What’s so funny about any of the above? Why show the same set up, made ‘different’ because of the theme, every week? Why insult the viewers’ intelligence, assuming people are entertained and engaged with this?

For me, comedy panel shows in their current form promote negative relationships between people on a wider scale. It justifies that, as long as you can be mean and show someone up in a funny way, it’s socially acceptable to be horrible. There’s no clever comedy in sight, just banter similar to working in an office.  You know; the one up man ship, thinly veiled insults and non-hilarity.

The only positive of comedy panel shows is they can showcase up and coming comedians on a national stage. But there are other ways to do this such as Live At The Apollo, news and chat show interviews. This reason doesn’t justify the panel show to me.

While my argument against comedy panels isn’t down to the lack of women appearing on them, they are dominated by men. Mock The Week and QI are currently littered with male comedians acting far too pleased with them selves. And when women do speak up, they get metaphorically shot down. A good example is Would I Lie To You? host Rob Brydon permitting the rest of the panellists’ to ask questions but when Kate Silverton from BBC News tries, he tells her to be quiet.

 

However, I genuinely don’t get how introducing more women onto these shows will make comedy panel shows more acceptable. These shows are already a flawed model in my eyes. How will they become more acceptable if they follow the same rules but with more women? Will the format change?  Only time will tell. But for now, my telly is turned off when it comes to comedy panel shows.