This weekend was very illuminating from the perspective of how much difference music makes for social dancers and their gatherings. Went to one social on Saturday and it was a thin crowd, part of the problem I think lay in the music selection, SAME EXACT PLAYLIST they were using 10 years ago. Seen this happen with another dance and because of the same reason (verified this with several other dancers who used to go) that the music was boring, generic cookie cutter music. Eventually, nobody went anymore.
I wound up DJ-ing again last weekend, by and large it went over really well and did my darndest to avoid things that were played to death. One thing that didn't fly was a fast swing bordering on Quickstep tune, the beat didn't come through quite clear enough (room acoustics played a part in it, live room with a lot of hard surfaces), lesson learned. Other thing was a few too many fast Waltzes (other lesson learned), outside of that, the dancers liked the idea of some very different music than what had been previously served up, doing it again in a couple weeks and doing a Cha Cha lesson too. A work in progress, and even in the midst of it (thanks to my laptop), I got to join in the party and test out some of the songs myself. Gotta say, some Steely Dan tunes make some pretty nice West Coast Swing.
Seen this happen with another dance and because of the same reason (verified this with several other dancers who used to go) that the music was boring, generic cookie cutter music. Eventually, nobody went anymore.
Another thing I've noticed with some church singles groups is that they're looking for something besides the typical bar/nightclub scene, but without the limitations of having it in their own building. (No matter how much you advertise that it's open to all, there will be those who won't go to another church's activity.)
I live in an area where there are three or four "dance studios" that only offer children's jazz dance, aerobics and such. Other than that, it's pretty much three bars; one country bar with a big floor full of drunks with no floor etiquette and a couple of miscellaneous bars with floors about the size of a walk in closet. Either way, if you don't drink, you're not their target market, plus in talking to a few of the other churches' singles leaders, we all have some recovering alcoholics we won't drag into that environment anyway.
The end result is that you get a college/rodeo town full of people who either can't manage anything beyond a stiff penguin shuffle, or have learned some drunken two step variant that's absolutely unique to them, and often for good reason. Watching them try to waltz can actually cause severe headaches.
Over the weekend I visited an East Coast Swing group that basically rents a similar studio a couple hours away on weekend nights and has their own dance; admission is just enough to cover the rent, each evening starts with a beginners lesson, and the main dance is in the biggest room with a smaller one and the hall for people who want a quieter place to practice something new, give lessons to someone who got there late, or just relax for a few minutes.
It was great; the music was appropriate, the crowd was there to have fun, and everybody had to take turns dragging the "new guy" off to the hall for a quick lesson in some of the moves they'd been working on earlier that night.
I've got a couple of folks talking to the owners of the local studios to see if we can get something similar going here. The goal would be to find somewhere we can do the same multiple-room thing, and have "just get out on the floor without too much embarrassment" level lessons in several styles, with a reasonable mix of music going on in the main room.
Not much dancing this weekend, but the upcoming two weekends I have loaded with social stuff, all in NYC. Outdoor concert/dance venue this weekend... And a popular Latin club is actually having a Latin ballroom night... Kind of wondering how that will be.
Penguin shuffle the following weekend though because I'm meeting up with some old college friends... One of which just turned 30.