This Week in Music in Chicago, and People Talking About It
Former Q101 host Electra on the disappearance of rock from the FM dial; how Chicago house and Detroit techno took over the world; our city’s underground ball scene; and the Chicago premiere of a Nico Muhly choral work.
By Whet Moser
November 15, 2011, 4:36 pm
* The Ball Scene: Tangentially related: "Grit & Glitter," an excellent Chicago Reader cover story by Elly Fishman, on the city's underground ball scene.
Like the Finnie Balls, today's ballroom competitions are partly a response to the fact that poor, black, gay kids have few places where they can mix with Chicago's broader gay community. Recent violence and protests in Boys Town suggest that that community is as racially and economically segregated as the rest of the city. But with segregation comes congregation, and balls are where gay black kids can find one another.
It's a fascinating story of how the city's interracial drag balls of the 1920s-1960s merged with the New York-born art of voguing into a competitive dance style and community.
* "String Theory and the Science of the Violin": In case you missed it, this Chicago piece on a Chicago doctor and his decades-long quest to master violin construction is excellent.
He focused on altering the thickness in precise locations, just millimeters apart, in the instrument’s curved plates—on the right side opposite the left strings, the left side opposite the right strings—that balanced the action of the corresponding string. “When I realized that the shape and thicknesses of the back of the violin were determined by the need to conserve momentum for each string and required exquisite adjustment,” he says, “I realized that I had both an explanation and a method.” This was science. He could test the epiphany.
Photograph: Joe C. Moreno; Hair and makeup: Sara Saltanovitz/Artists by Timothy Priano