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‘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.

'Sissy Bounce': gender-bending booty shaking comes to Stockholm

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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Stockholm Open set to serve up a storm

The ATP Stockholm Open hits the Swedish capital on Saturday with international players vying for a piece of the €530,000 ($718,000) pie. Will it be a local Swede who takes out this year's title? The Local chats to the tournament organizer to find out more.

Stockholm Open set to serve up a storm

“All the sponsors, players and organizers are getting ready, I’m really excited,” tournament spokesman Christian Ahlqvist told The Local over the phone, with the sound of tennis balls thwacking around in the background.

Held inside Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall, the tournament has been played every year since 1969, attracting some of the biggest tennis names in Sweden and the world.

“All the big Swedish players have played in the Stockholm Open, Björn Borg, Mats Wilander. Former world number one Roger Federer won the title in 2010. We’ve had some really great players, its always been one of the tournaments to play in,” explained Ahlqvist.

IN PICTURES: See Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg’s career in pictures

Headlining this year’s contingent is Spanish world number four David Ferrer who is tipped to take home the trophy.

“Ferrer is coming from Shanghai, he’s a great player and he’s always performed very well here,” said Ahlqvist.

But if you thought it was a one horse race, think again. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Polish giant Jerzy Janowicz (who is over two metres tall), both 22, are two young players looking to challenge Ferrer and show the tennis world that they belong at the top.

However the odds are against Sweden netting the championship. World number 444 Markus Eriksson is the only confirmed Swedish player so far, although more may find their way through in Friday’s final qualifications. But statistically, the odds aren’t historically in the Swedes’ favour, with the last winner, Thomas Johansson, in 2004.

A strong Swedish presence in the singles may be lacking, but the Swedish men are expected to do better in the doubles.

“Jonas Björkman is making a comeback in the doubles with one of the best doubles players in the world, Robert Lindstedt. So that will be interesting to see,” said Ahlqvist.

As for a tip for the winner, Ahlqvist likes world number 41 Jarkko Nieminen from Finland.

“Jarko is someone who’s been a bit on and off the court with injuries. He’s played here so many times before, he’s almost a Swede. Everyone would love to see him win one.”

Saturday marks the opening ceremony for the Open, which will be held on centre court and is free for everyone. The tournament begins on the same day, with the final scheduled for Sunday the 19th.

Josh Liew

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