Swing Discussion Boards > When Selecting Music

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Spitfire, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Last night I was at our local WCS club dance which was celebrating it anniversary; food and free admission. This morning I was looking at the FB page for the club and the DJ made a post stating his concerns over complaints that had gotten back to him about the quality of most of the music he was playing which I myself feel was not good. He requests feedback on what music to play more often and what to play less often.

    So in particular to the DJ's here; are the music selections based on what you know your dancers want to hear and dance to from feedback or do you do feel you know your dancers well enough to get a pretty good idea of what they want?
  2. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I dj Latin, but the same principle/ideas would apply for swing. I play music that I think people can dance to - not the same tired favorites - and will play songs upon request. However, I don't have a high opinion of the average dancer who usually has a limited knowledge base of songs. I don't think that the average dancer is conversant enough with music to provide appropriate feedback.
  3. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    Well swing a bit easy to dj than latin. Basicly no one care what sing dance you do.
    Probable right about average dancer for latin or ballroom. But that is because they have not learned what to dance to do to the music. It helps if the DJ announce what suitable
    for the song. Yes works for swing, "here a song for ecs , great for tripple step" or
    "nice slow wcs or carolina shag". Ive seen people dancing salsa to cha cha and bachata" . Now I live down South carolina now and the shagger just dance the shag
    to everything, chacha, rumba, fast swing song I thing I remember a watz too.
    But thats because the want rather than they don't know LOL
  4. bclure

    bclure Member

    I DJ ballroom on a regular basis. If the DJ is asking for feedback, by all means, give it to him..

    Although, it seems to me that a large part of being a "DJ" means being able to read the crowd and play appropriate music. I wil go into a dance with a playlist prepared, but it is very seldom that it plays through with no changes. I am constantly monitoring the crowd to see who is dancing to what. A full dance floor makes me a happy man..

    Requests tend to make me nervous. I will usually play them, but only after listening to them to make sure they fit the program. Fortunately, I am using Megaseg and can preview songs.

    I went to one venue, people were openly complaing about the music and un-sure about what dance to do. The "DJ" had his Itunes setup to randomly play music from his "dance" pool. When I sugested that he call out the dance, he replied, "I would like to but often, I don't know what they are." Hmmm?!? If you don't know what dance it is... Don't play it!
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I hadn't heard of "Megaseg" before, and when I googled it I figured out why. It runs on Macs...one of these days, but for now I don't make enjough to invest in a Mac to use such software.
  6. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking, DJ's do a pretty good job with their music. The songs may not be great ones, but if they are danceable then it's good. In the case I'm describing many of the songs were just ackward to dance to.
  7. bclure

    bclure Member

    One night I was DJ at a dance that was West Coast / Lindy. I was supposed to alternate between the two dances.. The feedback that I was getting was that my Lindy choices were so-so. As I don't dance the Lindy I assumed they were correct and said, "what do you want to hear?". I selected some songs, let them listen to them on the headset, played them. All of their friends actively complained about the selections. I was WAY better off using my knowledge of music to select songs. So-so was much better than terrible.

    I used to DJ off a PC, I constantly had to fight with feedback issues, skipping ect,ect.. I bought a Macbook and what do you know? The Apple software (Itunes)works MUCH better on an Apple product. Megaseg was the next logical upgrade, mostly due to Itunes inability to work with multiple outputs.
  8. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    hey tom, didn't see this post or i would have responded sooner.

    i suspect everyone has a slightly different philosophy - but if you're getting paid, your primary goal is to get dancers dancing (if you're getting paid by the venue and they sell drinks - you also play the occasional "bad" song that drives people off the floor and to the bar to buy drinks). some folks consider it part of their personal agenda to "educate" or stretch their audiences, which is fine as long as the crowd responds and stays on the floor. whenever i play a song and less than 75% of the crowd dances to it, i take note.

    it's my take that early on, a DJ should be playing bread & butter stuff (popular/traditional stuff) - and nothing too esoteric - at the beginning of the night, there's a larger percentage of less experienced dancers who just took the beginner or intermediate lesson before the dance, etc. later at night, a DJ has more leeway to experiment, especially if he/she has read the crowd pretty well all night up to that point - it's primarily the experienced die-hards who are still up and dancing.

    speaking specifically of WCS, which no one seems to have done so far, there's such a cross section of music one can choose from that it's quite possible that some people won't be as pleased if you stay within one particular style. i know a lot of great old school dancers who just won't dance to anything electronic or synthesized - music that's become more popular with younger dancers. it is what it is. but there are plenty of WCS playlists to be found on the internet - any aspiring DJ should be using some of those lists and seeing which songs are found frequently - and starting with those but still doing a mix of styles. some DJ's will concentrate on a specific style within the genre. this is good and bad - there are some DJs whose choices for which i have little affinity - and if i know they're playing, i stay home or go somewhere else.
  9. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Particularly for WCS dances, picking music that has interesting changes is important. There is so much more emphasis put on musicality in the westie world, compared with the other dance networks that I am in, that it is important to pick fun music. I have noticed dancers get kind of picky if the up beat isn't clear enough for the beginners. So that is something he could think about. Also, there is a bit of a conflict among the westies right now. There is a trend towards dancing to much faster music. I guess that is how it was danced a decade or so ago. Still, lots of westies like the slower slinky music. So if he didn't pick a wide enough range, one group or the other might get grumpy. Just a few thoughts.
  10. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    good points - it's my take the younger dancers tend to be more beat driven and dancing faster and "cuter" while the old school retains the element of flirtatiousness/playfulness that i'm more in tune with personally.
  11. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Regardless of age, it is definitely easier to pull off the 64 beat yellow zone mega moves to the slower slinky music. Then everyone can sit around trying to figure out if the couple really just extended the yellow zone for the whole song or had a bunch of imaginary one beat anchors in the mix :) Doubling the tempo definitely caries a lot more momentum that tends to force anchoring.

    It is all fun as long as the DJ can keep things mixed up enough to please both crowds.
  12. Artemia

    Artemia New Member

    I DJ WCS in the Bay Area, which is one of the "best places to dance WCS in the world." (Self proclaimed, yes, but we get many visitors who confirm this fact.)

    I find the most important thing is to play to your crowd at a venue... make the people WANT to stay on the floor. A floor-clearing song is the worst mistake, more than anything else. It'll take a bit of time to learn your venue and crowd, so you can't just show up anywhere with a playlist and presume that people will dance to it. Because each dance experience is so different depending on the music and your partner, there's so much riding on those good songs. (Interesting to note, never play a Country WCS at a venue that doesn't offer Country Twostep songs mixed in with the WCS, unless it's "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." Reaction.. bad.)

    I tend to do a lot of mixing up in my playing. I will switch from traditional blues to fast contemporary and then over to funk or soul... scramble and repeat. If I play something that we consider 'fast contemporary' I won't expect dancers to have to do three of them in a row. Giving people a chance to breathe while still staying on the dance floor, but not falling asleep after one or two slow songs, is really important to keeping people interested. I tend to stay under 120 after midnight, except for something like "Sexy and I Know It" if there's a buzz going on where people WANT to dance but are fading.

    I have studied various DJ styles as I attend competitions, I know of another very popular DJ who prefers to throw 5-6 really fast songs at you then give you a two song slow break. Usually I end up sitting out a lot, because no matter how many people there are that I WANT to dance with, at a certain hour of the night I just don't feel like dancing that many fast songs in a row. Never really liked this pattern, but popularity speaks for itself in part, so it may be something other parts of the country are fond of.

    In the end, though, music selection and tempo should be based on the crowd. I will often switch from a blues-and-safe-song-heavy playlist at the beginning of the evening to my crazy 3/4 and "can you really dance to that?" challenging music by the end of the night, depending on the level and creativity of the population that is left. In the Bay it's nice to know that you CAN throw out your fun, unique music towards the end of the night because there will be a higher level crowd to enjoy it. I know this isn't the case everywhere, so it's important to not just try something super new without knowing there are people there willing to accept it. (And always come back to staples, even if they're songs people haven't heard in a while, because it helps break up the crazy and encourages all levels to stay around until the lights come back up.)
  13. major swing

    major swing Member

    i dj in uk, mainly the forties scene but also for the swing dancers, i alway ask the question when booked, what sort of music do you want, and i try to fit in with my customers, however i am booked because of what i play, my music is english dance band from 1931 onwards which encompasses all vintage ballroom, and also im a big fan of american swing which forms a large part of my play list.
    mainly 35 to about 43........... folks should know what to expect from their dj, but there should be a degree of flexibility, however no compromise!!! when asked to play music from outside my chosen era its a big no no generally..........

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