Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

4 Groups DJs Often Forget

There are two main DJ topics. One is handling the dancefloor and the dancers and the other one is the music itself. What we often forget is that an event has more groups than DJs and dancers. During a good event all involved parties are happy and even though the other groups are often happy without our doing, we have to be aware who they are and stay alert to their needs.

Event Organisors

What makes event organisors happy differs strongly. Most of them are happy when the participants are happy. Some of them have additional requirements like a certain atmosphere or a certain style of music. Hence we have to be sensitive to organisors needs and doing a good job means to incorporate those into our sets. These don't always have to match what dancers would prefer - for example while dancers might enjoy a change in the band break (e.g. play Swing when the band plays Jazz), the organisor might want you to keep to the style of the band.

Other DJs

Most of the times nothing is needed to keep collegues happy, a good advice is to simply don't annoy them.
Many people seem to have the idea that they can just look on the cover of the vinyl or on the screen of a laptop to figure out a song instead of politely asking. While not every DJ reacts strongly to this, I recommend asking instead of just looking.
One commonly made mistake by beginner and intermediate DJs is that they play music they got from a fellow DJ, that djs the same night. Researching music is a lot of work, and a common thought to a happy face by a collegue that tells you "Do you hear this? This is YOUR song!" is the non-spoken "Yes, and I would've liked to play it!". Stick to the music you've researched yourself when playing at the same night as a DJ who gave you music.


Most bands I like I've never had to worry about my actions during the break, simply don't play any of their recorded music, they'll rock so hard, there is nothing to worry about.
Bands that aren't good are a lot trickier. While you don't want to show them off, there are also dancers and organisors to take care off. I like the honest approach and think it's best to save the dancers night and have the band see what makes dancers happy instead of trying to spare them loosing face. Because if they do it is up to them and they might be actually happy about experiencing what is needed, so they can improve too.

Location Owners

I'm used to dancing in local venues that are pubs or bars. These venues need to make money to work. So I try to DJ that the people on the dance floor go on and off and have time for a drink. This way they might dance less that one night, but won't get kicked out after two weeks, because they only drink water in the bathroom. This way both groups stay happy. Want to know how to do it? Read how to empty the dancefloor.

Try to be aware of all parties wishes and decide from there what is best. Know that it is not always possible to make everyone happy.

+1 if you like including everyone!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

.. If It Ain't Got That Jazz

In the past years there has been a trend in the lindy hop scene - we dance a lot more to New Orleans Jazz. Many scenes have local bands that play great New Orleans Jazz, like Bolden Buddies from Montpellier, Rhythm Junkies from Vilnius or the amazing Gentlemen & Gangsters from Göteborg. Even though it is somewhat obvious we don't think about the fact that this is not the music lindy hop was created to and what that implies.

The bands that played at the Savoy Ballroom were Luis Russel, Count Basie, Chick Webb, etc. They played Big Band Swing with one of the characteristics being the syncopation which made people start to incorporate the triple step into the dance.

Different music results in different dancing. When Swing music turned Boogie the dance changed, when Boogie turned Rock'n Roll, the dance changed again. Dances match their music.

The lindy hop we dance today very often is a non-syncopated lindy hop. Lots of charlestoning and kicking as result from tempo and rhythm from New Orleans Jazz. While I do love New Orleans Jazz and most definitely dancing to it, I think it's important to keep in mind, as dancer and especially as DJ, what music made the dance what it was.

Everyone with a computer, an internet connection and a free spotify account can DJ. This is definitely a win for the scene. It's important not to let ignorance overrun the work people had to do automatically when collecting and researching music on vinyl or CD. I think it becomes even more important to be aware as DJ what kind of music you play and what kind of dancing it nurtures.