Salsa > Loud Music. I just want to know WHY

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Me, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. Me

    Me New Member

    I accept that music in salsa clubs is too loud. I know to wear earplugs, or to just never go back.

    What I do not accept is whenever a new group decides to try to start a Latin dance in my area, the music is cranked up above safe decibel levels, without fail. When the DJs are asked to turn the music down, they won't do it, or they just turn it back up immediately. The dancers leave, the customers leave, and subsequent dances flop, so the dances go away and about six months later somebody else will get the bright idea to have a Latin dance here... they crank up the music... we don't like it... dances flop... (lather, rinse, repeat). To clarify: I'm not talking about setting up dances in clubs. I'm talking about more intimate coffee house and restaurant settings where these guys set up huge speakers and blast the music.

    This happened, again, a couple of weeks ago. Seeing as this is at least the third time this has happened recently, I wrote the leader of the organization who hosted the last dance here. It was a polite e-mail letting him know that people walked out and warned their friends who were on their way not to bother coming because requests to turn the music down were ignored. I told him that an event would be successful here if the music were still loud, but not painfully loud. I volunteered to help promote their future dances if the music would not be so loud.

    Here was most of his reply:

    "That’s what Latin music is; its loud and fun. I think our attitude towards dancing is different and this is where we will have some differences.... I really am sorry to hear that your students and friends had to turn back but we had a great time. If the music is too loud in the future maybe you could bring some cotton balls and put it in your ears. I hope you don’t feel that I am being unreasonable but I have to keep everyone happy. "

    This is not the first time somebody has told me that, basically, "real" Latin music is not real unless it is played loudly.

    My question is this: "Why does loud=authentic?"

    My second question is: "Why ignore requests to turn it down?"

    Can you guys help me understand this? Is there a compromise to be found? I just don't understand it at all. If people are not supporting your event and a simple change is to lower the volume, why refuse to do it? Additionally, these volume levels cause permanent hearing damage. Why do this to people?
  2. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    I fully understand what you are saying. When music or any sound is too loud for me (even at the movie theater), I wear earplugs. I value my hearing, and protect it...
  3. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that the majority of the population, at least in the US, seem to require music to be loud, perhaps because of too many years with their ipods cranked up. For crying out loud, I went to a preschool social where the music was loud enough to make the little kids cry, and they still wouldn't turn it down.

    Any night club I've been to has the music turned up too high to have anything but a shouted conversation. Salsa and otherwise. I just stopped going when I got tired of my ears ringing.
  4. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    It's why I always have a good supply of earplugs...
  5. Unfortunately, there are quite a few DJs out there who believe that to get a dance party started (and I'm not restricting this to just salsa, but also ballroom, night club, discotheque, etc. etc. etc.), you need to crank up the music so that people who are just sitting there talking (and not dancing), will be "gently" encouraged to talk less (since they can no longer hear what anyone else is saying), and get up and dance instead. If people do start dancing, then they need to crank up the music so that everyone can hear the music (and only the music) while they are dancing. If they start talking on the dance floor, they might get into meaningful conversation, and decide to sit down and have a drink together... which means that they aren't dancing. Thus, the music must be kept as loud as possible.
  6. Yeah I hear what you're saying. That's just being obnoxious. Personally, I think they're ignorant. Same thing with the live mediocre bands too. They have only two volume levels, loud and louder. This happens a lot i LA scenes too. I hate that.
  7. Me

    Me New Member

    I appreciate everybody's replies so far.

    So one reason the DJs might be doing this is to try to make people get on the floor and dance? It's actually driving dancers away around here. I'd appreciate it if any DJs reading could weigh in on this.

    Anybody have thoughts on this idea that authentic Latin music is played at a loud volume? I'm not "picking" on this one particular person who actually took the time to reply to my e-mail. I've had many people claim that authentic music must be played loudly enough to be felt in the chest.
  8. The notion that latin music has to be played loud all the time is a bunch of phtooie, that I'm not willing to accept! There are hundreds if not thousands of salsa songs that have more than two levels of volume within each song. Being able to hear music at more than two volume level within a song can be as enjoyable.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Interview with Jimmy Wyble, who played guitar with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

    I’ll never forget, when we opened at the Oriental Theater, (Chicago) Cameron and I would put our amplifiers on chairs so they’d get a better shot at the mike. The bass wasn’t amplified but the steel was and we were. The guys in the pit would play the overture and we’d start playing as the curtain opened, and after the opening day of the show, several of them came backstage and said, “My God, what’s making all of that racket?” I guess we were loud for the time (laughs).

    We've had the same problem at our CW place for some time now. Music too loud, even with custom ear plugs! Same basic reply, 'People expect the music to be loud.' This same DJ hasn't learned what music goes with what song, although some folks (relative newbies) think he's a "good" DJ.

    So, it's not just salsa, and it's not just DJs.

    I've talked to several people who have permanent tinitus (ringing in the ears). I started wearing custom ear plugs years ago, and have managed to protect my hearing. Which is a mixed blessing in that the noise bothers me even more because I CAN hear pretty well, thank you very much. The custom plugs are fairly expensive, but well worth the cost, I believe.

    What's that saying about changing the things you can, accepting the things you can't, and knowing the differnece?
  10. davedove

    davedove Active Member

    I can accept that it's just the way it is, BUT WHY? I even accept that the music needs to be loud enough to pick out the beat of a song in order to dance to it.

    I think it's all a plot. If it's too loud to talk, you dance more. If you dance more, you get hot quicker. If you get hot, you drink more. If you drink more, the bar makes more money.:cool:
  11. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    So many people around me have lost a lot of their hearing due to loud concerts and the like. I am glad that I have worked hard at protecting my ear drums from loud sounds with ear plugs...
  12. Well, we in the states are rebels and like challenges. That's why we don't have a monarchy.
  13. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Which came first? Hearing loss from loud music, or playing music loud because of hearing loss?

    Anyway, it occurs to me. I have been in crowded bars, no music playing, where I could hardly hear the people I was talking with, just because of all the background conversation. In such an environment, the music has to be loud to be heard at all, louder still to be heard well enough to hear the music and its beat clearly. So, very loud music became associated with this sort of fun. Now, all the DJ's remember is the loud music part, not why it got loud.

    Now, why, when musicians started using amplifiers, so many felt compelled to play at a volume that makes my ears bleed, maybe that has something to do with when the most successful started to play in stadiums, and they needed it that loud, and loud became associated with successful musicians.

    Please don't take any of this as history, just idle speculation on my part.
  14. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    This makes sense to me, toothlesstiger... :cheers:
  15. matty

    matty New Member

    i work as a DJ and in my opinion
    its just naive and unprofessional DJing
    it happens in all genres not just latin

    • DJ is standing behind the speakers so he is not in direct line of them therefore he is blissfully unaware that hes torturing the crowd.

    • or else , dj is drunk/on drugs which has same effect.

    • or else DJ sees that there are too many people talking and not enough dancing, and thinks if he can just turn it up a little bit more the party will get better.

    • poorly placed speakers which are phasing eachother out, and no amount volume will make it sound right, but does DJ know this? nope

    • no bass woofers, so DJ cannot feel the bass and reponds by turning the volume up... but to no avail because if your speakers cannot produce low frequencies no amount of volume will change that

    • DJ is ignorant to the fact that your hearing threshold goes up as the night progresses, and after listening to music for a while he no longer realises how loud it is

    i will give them one point: yes, a lot of latinos like to blast the music its true. even in the house & the street. and i do like the relaxed attitude . but when a professional is handling a PA system he should know better because its dangerous

    actually i have been to some salsa clubs where they have the treble down very low. which is nice because you can talk but feel the bass!
    a lot of the old salsa is too heavy on the treble side anyway, so you cant play it loud without turning the treble down IMO

  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    How do you know you've been to a concert? If you can't hear or talk the next day. :lol: BTDT. Bought the t-shirt. Literally.

    I think you have a lot of good points, matty. I think that the acoustics of the room, the surprisingly loud level of conversation, the difference of sound perception in front of versus behind the speakers, and cultural issues all come into play. :cool:
  17. Me

    Me New Member

    Just wanted to add that I have not disappeared.... I'm just listening. :)

    I really appreciate everybody's contributions.

    Oh, and a DJ came here to weigh in. Props! Thank you so much. :cheers:
  18. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Great insights from a D.J.'s point of view! :cheers:

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