"Real" WCS Music

#24
Being a dancer in the Phoenix scene, this is a new perspective for me that I'm unfamiliar with. I've danced East Coast Swing, and enjoyed it for many years. And yeah, sometimes I felt like I wanted more variety outside of 1930's--1940's big band music. 1950's Rockabilly is usually the extent of that variety, beyond modern songs that echo the older style.

I started dancing West Coast because I liked the emphasis on modern music, and it was nice to have a dance that could be danced to modern music that is a bit more structured than just throwing my body around. Given the music selection of the West Coast scene, I tend never to think of it as swing, so I just call it West Coast, and I'll tend to call East Coast Swing "Swing dancing." Someone did mention that the reason that the WC venues will play country music for what they call "Arizona Two-Step" (I secretly call it country two-step in my head) is a couple decades ago, WC was danced to country music a lot more.

This is not meant to be a critique of either dance scene. I still very much like them both, and will go to dance at venues run for both styles. I imagine I might experience a bit of culture shock if I went to a WC convention out of state.

I attended the WCS convention this last weekend, and had a lot of fun, personally. The main draw for me were all the workshops and long hours of open dancing. I'm still fairly new to WC dancing, so I was hoping that a barrage of workshops would help give me more tools for my toolbox, as one of my fellow dancers once put it. The music during open dancing was what I was familiar with, with a little more variety here and there (comparatively speaking, it did seem to me that they played a selection a little more broad than they usually do for the usual Phoenix WC dance nights).

I took part in the Musicality workshop that included Leify Green, and it covered the kind of ground that I was familiar with in a musicality class, especially having completed a 6-8 week musicality class at a dance studio a couple months prior. I wasn't put off by Leify Green, my assessment was that he brought a musician's perspective to the class, and drew attention to the connection of dancing to the music. The only thing I was uncomfortable with was the fact that I'm always uncomfortable during musicality classes; they are always a challenge for me, when getting outside my comfort zone. I take musicality classes so that I can push my comfort zone outward, but they are always terrifying classes for me. A dancer I may be, but I'm always a terribly shy dancer.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#25
The only thing I was uncomfortable with was the fact that I'm always uncomfortable during musicality classes; they are always a challenge for me, when getting outside my comfort zone
It's good that you do that!

Keep at it and you'll gain confidence.
Maybe one day you won't think of yourself as shy when it comes to dancing.

When those voices in your head say something like, "I'm going to be the only one out there, and everyone will be looking at me!" you'll be able to go out there anyhow and just do what you know how to do.

Etc...
 
#27
Speaking of which...
After hearing a snippet of music this morning, I was wondering if anyone is playing "Mustang Sally" anymore?
I am occasionally a DJ for a small dance studio and dance venues out in the Boondocks around Maryland. I play Mustang Sally sometimes. I just announce it as a swing, and some people will be doing a slow Triple East coast swing, and others will be doing West Coast Swing. There is also a couple that will triple twostep to that song also.

-Rip
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#28
I've been sitting on this item for some time now, and might as well drop it here.

1978 Portland, OR a prominent teaching couple here 'crowned heads of swing' or some such used a version of a Temptations song. Here's the remake they used, then the original.

I'm pretty sure the remake would make a lot of "I dance WCS to blues" lists.
Comments on suitability and the two versions?
Would you consider this to be "Real" WCS music?
Is this a case where, as one AT dancer said, it's all in how you play the music, not the notes on the page? (although it's also the solos, etc)



 

Generalist

Active Member
#29
Steve -- that's an excellent WCS song. Unfortunately DJ's refuse to play stuff like this because it's considered old school. Perhaps if it was re-edited with some hip hop drum machines it would have a chance.
 
#30
Many events have different musical focuses. You should research the reputation of the events before you go to them as some focus on blues, lyrical, hip hop and everything in-between. For straight up blues, you could go to any event in the northwest (Seattle Easter Swing, Bridgetown, etc.) as these events are quite traditional and will play more blues than anything else. If you're interested in social dance & competitive musical diversity, then the best thing that you can do is travel.
 
#32
I asked a DJ why there was so little variety in the music and he replied that's the music young people want to dance to. As the music went hip hop the crowd got younger.
So I've just started to DJ at local social dances in a college town and the music that people seem to like the most is new music with an old time feel. I think a lot of modern music is, if not embracing, incorporating older sounds and instrumentation. A few of my favorite examples of this are Mad and Freedom, by Anthony Hamilton, and Back On It and Reign, by Bad News Brown. They all are modern songs but use older types of sounds to great effect, building in noticeable breaks and hits. They also avoid a straight count, which makes them more "swingy" in the traditional sense of the word.

At the same time, a lot of other DJs play more lyrical songs or generally popular songs which then get incorporated into the swing playbook. The dance itself adapts to the music, which is a big part of why I enjoy it so much.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#33
They also avoid a straight count, which makes them more "swingy" in the traditional sense of the word.
You don't know how glad it makes me when I read this.
But, is there a "swingy" sense other than the traditional one?

new music with an old time feel
And that would be anything that has anything other than hip hop likes beats?

I looked at someone, who looks like they are supposed to be someone, (or thinks they are) dancing to one of those songs, and, frankly, I don't know what they were dancing to. Which say more about how they dance than the music itself. But then, unfortunately I see way too much of that.
Meanwhile, I just looked at one video of Mary Ann Nunez and Luis Crespo; and, yeah, there I can see the music. Just making sure I still know what I'm looking for.
 
#34
West Coast swing is danced to many different genres of medium tempo music these days, usuallly 90 to 120 BPM's including R&B, blues, honky tonk, soul, rock, pop and even ballads. There is a lot of controversy between the dancers that insist it should be done to music that has a triple rhythm and those that eliminate many of the triple steps (shuffles) replacing them with single rhythm (one weighted step per two beats of music). When I started dancing WCS in the 1970's, we did not use rolling count. It was a straight triple, triple, rock step (1&2, 3&4, 5-6) but in the last 15 years or so the rolling count has been recommended for accomplished dancers, &a1, &a2, etc. This way of syncopating the two beat increments involves body movement plus the music that uses this way of dividing the beats. The dancer still uses this way of moving even when the music is a triple rhythm as follows: the "&" is the preparation to step using the hip flexor, the "a" is the placement of a foot, the "1" is the arrival of the weight, etc. So every step is broken into three parts, preparation to step engaging the flexors, the placement of the foot and the arrival of the weight over the foot. So before stepping forward on a walk for WCS, one shifts the weight slightly back over the back part of the heel, bending the receiving leg as it prepares to step, on the "&". I have a more complete discussion and videos on this topic and more on my blog. I hope this is helpful!
 

regis

Active Member
#37
although earlier in the evening there was perhaps 1 blues tune for every 8 contemporary. Later in the evening the music was almost all hip hop.

I asked a DJ why there was so little variety in the music and he replied that's the music young people want to dance to. As the music went hip hop the crowd got younger.
I can probably guess that he only has so many songs in his repertoire to begin with and may be used to catering to younger crowds at other places. So the problem isn't so much of what is available as much as what he personally had available. He probably exhausted his good stuff early on and was left with hip hop at the last ... which may have been his strategy. He is probably used to arming himself with "younger crowd" music.
 

regis

Active Member
#38
I've been sitting on this item for some time now, and might as well drop it here.

1978 Portland, OR a prominent teaching couple here 'crowned heads of swing' or some such used a version of a Temptations song. Here's the remake they used, then the original.

I'm pretty sure the remake would make a lot of "I dance WCS to blues" lists.
Comments on suitability and the two versions?
Would you consider this to be "Real" WCS music?
Is this a case where, as one AT dancer said, it's all in how you play the music, not the notes on the page? (although it's also the solos, etc)



both versions are definitely "danceable". For me the Rita version just moves me more and I would enjoy dancing to it.
 

regis

Active Member
#39
It seems to me that too many studios just play music that's on the charts. The joy of the music or the swing content isn't even considered.
That is more of a marketing technique to generate new customers. If people are shown they can dance to what is popular (since most people are into what is currently played on the radio, thus the reason for playing on the radio in the first place) then they will be more interested in learning to dance.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#40
This isn't the kind of thing they play at a country western place, but my favorite DJ put this one on last night, ah... and there's an example of why I like what he plays.

I think my partner initially wanted to do cha cha, but I was thinking west coast.
When that no beat part happened, I was... forgot about this part... not so good.

He also put on something that the same gal thought was a fox trot, which to me means it's in 4/4. Too bad I can't think of the name of the tune.

If you like Elvis, stick around for All Shook Up, which is currently the next tune YouTube serves up.
 

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