Yesterday marked fifteen years since I started this blog. I did my first post on this blog (that is, an announcement about it) on July 30, 2007. I planned to write a short post announcing this blog’s fifteenth anniversary on the actual anniversary, but forgot that the date was July 30 and kept thinking July 31. Well, it has been 15 years…
In a way, it’s hard to believe all that time went by. But in another way, when I take a good look at the time when I started this blog, I think, yeah, it makes a lot of sense that fifteen years have passed since then.
When I made my announcement of the blog on July 30, 2007, I said that this would be a blog about “new music (and culture and some politics).” Obviously, it didn’t end up being a blog just about new music – far from it. As people know, most of the music in this blog is very old.
My original idea for this blog was to focus on global fusion music with South Asian influences. It was just a kind of fusion that I happened to like a lot at the time. But as the months progressed, I started to include more Indian film music. One reason for that change was that I was tracing the sample sources and influences for some of that global fusion music. A lot of people who like old Indian film music and/or classical Indian music and/or Indian folk music knock fusion music, but they don’t realize that fusion can offer a great window into those older kinds of music and that some people (though maybe not enough) have sufficient curiosity to explore those older kinds of music further after they’ve caught some brief glimpses of them. My fondness for different kinds of Indian and Pakistani music is actually rooted in other things, too (relationships, experiences, exposure to the old kinds of music that happened completely separately from my exposure to fusion music), but I have to give the fusion music a lot of credit also.
Another reason for the change in my blog – that is, into what it became for most of the next 15 years – was the fact that I moved to Jackson Heights, Queens, NY in the summer of 2007, and at the time, there were several stores selling tons of DVDs of old Indian films as well as several more selling at least a few here and there. It was incredibly easy to find DVDs of old Indian films in Jackson Heights in 2007; in fact, some people said that they found them in that neighborhood much more easily than they could find them in India. Unfortunately, those days are long over – all those stores are gone (or have turned into something else or have simply gotten rid of their DVD sections), because nobody sells DVDs anymore. And I really miss them too. I don’t live in Jackson Heights anymore (though I often think of moving back there – not too happy being back in the Bronx right now), but if the DVD stores were still around, I’d still be going to them anyway. I used to spend so much time in the “Bollywood DVD” stores when I lived in that neighborhood, in 2007 to 2010! And I did visit the area to do film shopping a number of times for a few years afterward…
A third reason why this blog changed – and found its main subject matter/theme for much of the next decade and a half – was the fact that shortly after I started the blog, I started to find other blogs that specialized in classic Indian films (and/or film music), and these turned out to be a great source of education for me. I’ve talked about those blogs and bloggers before and there are posts from the past where you can find more details about their contribution to my education at this blog. But for now, I will just say those other blogs – as well as some YouTube channels – were invaluable in terms of how they helped me to create and develop Dances on the Footpath.
A little while ago, while thinking about this blog’s 15th anniversary, I decided to go to some of the early posts to see how they were doing. A number of them included clips that had been taken down from YouTube, so I decided to delete them rather than try to replace them, especially considering that they sometimes had very little in common with the material that would be included in this blog for most of the next 15 years. So, you might say that I have done a little trimming, especially among the older posts. But most of the old posts still stand, and there certainly are enough still up to give a sense of what I was doing back then.
Looking back at my old posts, I see that I started posting scenes straight from Indian films in November of 2007. The film scenes (and writing related to film scenes) gradually increased in number over the next few months, but I didn’t completely fall into my love affair with classic Indian films – which in turn caused this blog to begin transforming almost completely into an Indian film blog – until the end of April 2008, when I watched and reviewed Shree 420. For some months after that, I posted about a somewhat eclectic selection of Indian films, but I ended up doing more and more about Golden Age and Vintage Hindi films – and related music and dance – and, as many of you know, that is where Dances on the Footpath ended up being focused for quite a long time.
But I suppose things have started to go full circle, in a way… As you can see, in the past few years and especially in recent months, I have been writing a lot more about fusion again, although it is fusion originating from India or Pakistan rather than the Western-originated fusion that I started out with. I have (again) become much more dedicated to writing about music and dance apart from films, too. (Actually I have been more interested in focusing on dance – especially classical dance – in the past few years than I ever was before. I have also gone completely crazy about kathak, which is a pretty big change from the past. As some of you might have noticed, during the first few years of this blog, I was posting a lot more about bharatanatyam, particularly because that is what Padmini and Vyjayanthimala and Kamala all did, for the most part. But I wouldn’t do that now. Not that I don’t like bharatanatyam anymore, but, as I was saying, I have become just so crazy about kathak!)
I rarely review films anymore, because I’ve simply gotten a little tired of doing that. If I do a film writeup, it usually has to be from a somewhat different angle, not just a straight review with plot outline, etc. I know that a lot of people liked the film reviews and would have liked to see me do more of them (and I appreciate that), but unfortunately, I can only enjoy writing when I write what I really want to write, without all that much consideration for what people might actually want to read. (This has been a problem in my long writing non-career all along. Oh, well.)
So, as this blog moves along after all these years, I think people can expect to see more about music and dance, less about films…unless I get into the mood to write more about films again. We’ll see.
I do wish that I could speed things up a little here again. Sometimes, the posting becomes so slow and sporadic that I wonder if the blog is starting to suffer the symptoms of old age (something that also might be starting to happen to its creator, who just turned 60 last October). But I think that maybe I might make some changes in my approach to the blog that will help to increase the speed and momentum. One thing I might do is to stop feeling every time as though a post has to be a mini-book. I used to toss up shorter and more simple posts much more easily.
I still write short, quick posts about this and that almost every day, but I do that on Facebook. I think that my involvement in Facebook may have contributed greatly to the decline in frequency of my posts here. I wasn’t even on Facebook until the middle of August of 2012, and I didn’t even start that account by myself; rather, it was set up for me by a woman whom I was spending a lot of time with that summer. She left me a Facebook account and then she dumped me! (I like to think that at least she left me a nice parting gift, but sometimes I wonder. No, just kidding – I like my Facebook acquaintances a lot, especially because quite a few of them were originally acquaintances at this blog. But maybe a greater balance in my use of different social media might be in order at this point.)
And those are the thoughts that I will leave you readers with as I finish marking this blog’s 15th anniversary. I may do a “real” post fairly soon, but I felt that I really had to do a little something quickly here just to observe this momentous occasion. (Of course, I am a day late. But I don’t want to be much later than that. I also have to go back to my job tomorrow… For many stretches in this blog’s history, I was actually not working full-time. I suppose that is another obstacle that I have to deal with. Time has become all too precious!)
I know that fifteen years is a long time to be doing a blog! But I am not ready to call it quits just yet (I don’t think)…