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‘Sissy Bounce’: gender-bending booty shaking comes to Stockholm

'Sissy Bounce': gender-bending booty shaking comes to Stockholm
Self-proclaimed international diva Big Freedia is set to make his Swedish stage debut this week, bringing the flamboyant sounds of New Orleans bounce music, and a warning not to call him "sissy", contributor Caroline Bursell discovers.

The diva in question is Freddie Ross, more so known as “The Queen Diva” Big Freedia, 15 years ago the back-up singer and dancer to bounce music’s first openly gay rapper Katey Red, and now the genre’s most respected advocate.

“Bounce music is up-tempo, heavy bass, call and response type music, ass-shaking music,” Big Freedia explains.

“I started back home in New Orleans with my best friend Katey Red over a decade ago, and we danced for about a year and a half together, after which I started to step out in the spotlight and started to build my own fan base, putting on shows sometime, and it went from there.”

After his hometown of New Orleans was rumbled by the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, Big Freedia worked hard to keep the music alive and the scene is still thriving some five years after the devastating storm.

“Bounce was important at the time, as when Katrina came we were dispersed across different states, and everyone was clinging to bounce music like it was crack or something,” he tells The Local, regarding the genre’s significance in the wake of the disaster and as the city began to regain its feet.

“Once we started to get bounce music spreading, and the Internet was working again, plus people were mailing different CDs all over, it started to get the music out there even more and I think people just figured that ‘hey, I like the music – teach me how to dance, teach me how to bounce.’”

Freedia’s flamboyant fashion, striking pink-streaked hairstyle and jaw-dropping moves has led to his brand of bounce being dubbed “Sissy”, but Big Freedia argues that the expression in bounce is there for anyone willing to utilize it.

“There is no such thing (as Sissy Bounce). There is a misconception about us rappers, when it comes to calling us ‘Sissy Bounce’ rappers, thinking we are ‘sissy’ just because of sexual preference. We don’t separate here, it’s all just bounce music.”

Performing alongside Freedia at Södra Teatern is fellow Louisiana native Paul Soileau and his filthy, provoking alter ego Christeene Vale.

The “drag terrorist” character in a tattered, smeared, are-those-signs-of-an-STD get-up, with tunes lovingly dubbed “Fix My Dick” and “Tears from My Pussy”, is set to show you a properly sick time.

The first question is: if she’s a “terrorist” then what is she fighting for? A good laugh, of course, and a display of social commentary – however warped and imposing, it’s supposed to be fun.

Freedia has nothing but good things to say about the man he will be sharing the stage with on Friday.

“Christeene and I are cool, we’ve worked together many times. I love the show, it’s very different from mine, but it still has lots of energy, and a lot of people like it. Plus, Christeene’s a very nice friend.”

One of the event’s producers Åsa Hamneståhl tells The Local of her own bounce music experience in Austin, Texas earlier this year, describing a celebration of anyone and everyone enjoying the scene together.

“Once there I couldn’t stop dancing… I would say it gets you almost like in a trance, and the thing that struck me the most was how much the audience is actually a part of the show, the inclusiveness of the whole event.”

And for all those who head to Stockholm’s south island and who up for shaking a tail feather or two, Big Freedia promises “a very hot, fun, dance party. You know I’m gonna bring it, give it all that I’ve got. Prepare to be very excited, and get ready to learn something new, something that’s poppin’.”

Big Freedia performs “Azz Everywhere”:

The two performers will be part of Reclaim The Space! and Club Slick’s collaborative presentation of Södra Teatern as the first venue in Sweden to host deep, down and dirty Louisiana.

The evening will start at 20:00 on Friday the 5th of August with The Movement of Bounce: Lecture & Workshop, in English, by and with Big Freedia and dance instructor Altercation.

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