WCS Convention Music

Generalist

Active Member
#1
I'm at the July 4th convention in Arizona at the Camelback Inn. It's sponsored by the GPSDC,

Almost all the music after about 1 hour of dancing is hip hop or EDM (electronic dance music).

I told the DJ that all the music sounds the same. I also told DJ that I have no problem dancing to that music but I think in a convention a sampling of the good WCS music should be done from at least the 1940's on up to present time. That's a lot of music folks, including as I explained to the DJ, rock from 1955 to present, big band from the 30s and 40s, blues since 1920, r&b from the 70s, etc, etc.

DJ explained to me that DJs have been directed to play what they are playing and can't change.

This is a pathetic situation. Apparently the powers that control WCS have decided that the only music we can dance to is hip hop and EDM.
 

snapdancer

Well-Known Member
#2
Apparently the powers that control WCS have decided that the only music we can dance to is hip hop and EDM.
Actually, it's just the powers that control this particular event.

As far as music preferences, I'm in generalist agreement with you. WCS is versatile enough to fit a wide range of music, let's prove that.
 

Siggav

Active Member
#3
You'll find 1920's type blues at blues events (along with a wide variety of blues music) and the 30's and 40's music at lindy hop events. The change from lindy hop to west coast swing happened gradually and these days I think that people associate the earlier music with lindy hop and wouldn't really expect that to be played at a west coast swing event.
 

Generalist

Active Member
#4
They also didn't play any country, r&b, latin, or jazz. It was all contemporary boom boom music. I expected so much more at a national swing convention.
 

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
#5
I know one of the DJs there. And he also played at a WCS weekend i went to a few weeks ago. I recall a fair amount of r&b and jazz, but mostly contemporary pop and hip hop.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#7
I think that people associate the earlier music with lindy hop and wouldn't really expect that to be played at a west coast swing event.
Hoping to change that; one mind at a time.

Arthur Murray students from Los Angeles did West Coast Swing on tv in 1954 to Jerry Gray's Orchestra playing:
Pennsylvania 65000,
In the Mood, and
A String of Pearls.

Are the three songs listed above really associated with lindy?


And, while I'm at it... Here's some more "original" West Coast Swing music.

The songs listed below were definitely used for West Cost Swing (yes, the name appears on step sheets, one of which is dated 1953)

rock from 1955
On film we have:
Bill Haley:
R-O-C-K
Rock Around the Clock
See You Later, Alligator! 1956
Razzle Dazzle
Rock a Beatin’ Boogie

Gene Vincent
Dance to the Bop

Listed in dance books:

"Let's Dance" by Ray Anthony 1951
"Be-Bop's Spoken Here" by Les Brown 1949
"One Mint Julep", Buddy Morrow 1952
"Dry Bones", Tommy Dorsey, 1949?

Bill Black’s Combo
Comin’ On 1964

As soon as I get done with those Lindy Hop footprint lessons...
 

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
#8
So an interesting thought about ballroom music.

When I very first started dancing my boss kept saying "There are only so many waltzes ever made." and she poopooed the teachers that bought tapes of new ballroom songs. She was very very fond of her same songs, same tapes, same everything. I can't hear Boy From New York City or Moon River without wanting to cringe still to this day. Most of her music was very big band based. And the studio clientele was rather old and stuffy too.

Fast forward 20 or so years and being in some of the most progressive busy and revolutionary ballroom studios in the country, even DJing ballroom events now, and I hear wonderful music all day long. Remixes of old standards, remixes of current pop songs, and lots of current music of this decade. But I almost never ever hear a song straight out of the 70s or before.

I now moved back to my original home state and am in a studio that is basically empty and the crowd on the friday nights are dwindling. The problem as I see it ... big band music. A live big band one Friday a month, and nothing else. The crowd in the studio is older and they love it. Not a single person under 60 in there but me. And they will never attract anyone under 60 with that music. Eventually that crowd will fade away. I can't stand the parties. I am going to DJ one coming up and I am sure the regulars are going to hate it because I am going to play all contemporary music. Not a single
Burt Bacharach shall be played. Not a single Henry Mancini or Carpenters.

Compare that to every other studio that I have had the privilege of working in or visiting that is young and hip and the main difference is the music. And the thing that I loved about the WCS event I went to a few weeks ago is that the music was even MORE progressive and current than the ballroom world. Compare the age and "hipness" of the two genres and you can see why. WCS music is younger and more hip, so it is going to attract those people.

Todays generations aren't really attracted to music of the 50's. My 72 year old mother, yes. Me, early 40's? no. Try to attract entertain and retain a new young person to the dance world with String of Pearls... I don't think so.
 
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Siggav

Active Member
#9
Glen Miller's In the mood is absolutely played at lindy hop dances sometimes. However because it was overplayed and is a bit of a cliche (same with sing sing sing) people tend to not like it very much.
 

RiseNFall

Well-Known Member
#10
So an interesting thought about ballroom music.
….

Todays generations aren't really attracted to music of the 50's. My 72 year old mother, yes. Me, early 40's? no. Try to attract entertain and retain a new young person to the dance world with String of Pearls... I don't think so.
Yes, I think this is very true. I dread going social dancing one place near me and one of the primary reasons is the very uninspired music. You are also correct in that the crowd there tends to be older (even by my standards).
 

Siggav

Active Member
#11
Just looked up the others and yes Pennsylvania 65000 totally sounds like a lindy tune, I think I wouldn't DJ it because of the rather gimmicky shouting and ringing but the rest of the tune is totally something you'd hear at lindy dances

As for the 1930's and early 40's music, sure it's not mainstream popular with young people these days but there is a large subculture (lindy hoppers!) that dances almost exclusively to that, so that's clearly not a full on barrier. However there is good and bad music and overplayed and fresh sounding music inside that.

Hmm ok slight adjustment, I realised I was listening to the Glenn Miller versions of those songs.

But really I think the dances are still closely enough related and the definition of what each one is is also vague enough and the music is so influential in changing what people look when dancing that basically if people spent a lot of time practicing west coast swing to mid tempo (130-150bpm) swinging music from the 30's and 40's they would basically end up with lindy hop. Maybe a smoother version than the one most commonly taught but still lindy.

And same if you started dancing lindy hop exclusively to hip hop and modern music, you'd eventually end up with a variation on west coast swing because again how you move and the styling you do etc. the rhythm you have in your body changes when the music changes.

Which is also why I totally understand Generalist being frustrated with the event, if you want to move and dance in different ways but the music is only supporting the one way of doing it, that's definitely not the most fun way to spend an evening.
 

leee

Well-Known Member
#12
I was going to make a "get off my lawn" joke but Siggav makes too many good points for me to be glib. Hrmph, thanks a lot!
 

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
#13
Obviously I am totally not a expert or historian for WCS at all, but from my longtime underground fascination with it and my recent submersion in it I can totally see changes in stylistic approaches. The new top show couples are a perfect example of a newer generation that would rather dances to Lourde and Jahmeel instead. Showdances at the top tend to influence and inspire those watching.

Being able to compare it to the changes in ballroom is helpful, for me, as well. American Foxtrot used to be one of our 4 "swing dances", and we shared International Foxtrot music. Now there is no pendulum action to our patterns or choreography because we are dancing to music like Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowouts "I'm Shakin" instead of Sinatra singing "September In the Rain" Now its all jazz, hop, point, spank my hip, shimmy and shake. There is no smooth pendulum swing and drift to it. It is a different dance. Now I would classify it closer to American Tango instead of International Foxtrot. American Swing did the same thing when we started dancing to Katy Perry instead of Susan Tedeschi.

Music evolves and I guess so do the dances with it.
 
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Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#14
So, it seems that Pennsylvania 65000, In the Mood, and A String of Pearls are not closely associated with Lindy Hop. If they had been, there would have been no need to look them up.
To be clear, those three songs were first released in the early 1940s. That puts them clearly in the "Swing Era." I guess the Murray people in Los Angeles in the early 1950s thought they should use swing music when people were dancing swing.
We actually were doing a line dance to one of the many versions of Pennsylvania 65000 in the mid to late 90s at the Drum, a (used to be) country western place in Portland.

Bill Haley and the Comets' songs were used in the second half of the 50s films because their songs were big sellers at the time, and Gene Vincent was doing pretty well there for a while, too.
Supposedly the rhythmically "simpler" rock 'n roll led to the elimination of the triple step. It was more like there was a huge number of young people who started dancing to this "suddenly" popular music who were pretty much making things up. The Dean Collins generation was featured prominently in those films because they were well known in Hollywood and could put on a good show. But, the star dancers of the Bill Haley films were "second generation," studio trained dancers, who brought West Coast Swing into the mix. They had no problems at all doing triples to rock 'n roll.
Dick D'Agostin was a young guy who also brought WCS in Hot Rod Gang.

Meanwhile swing dancers in LA found their own venues where they could dance to their own music. The Golden West Ballroom in Norwalk was one of them.

West Coast Swing went through a funk and Hustle influenced period.

Dancetime DVD! 500 Years of Social Dance, Vol. 2 makes it look like West Coast Swing started with 80s/90s country western.

At the Press Box in Westminster a few years ago it was the same basic sound tune after tune. I was bored pretty quickly (although the dancers were certainly good). They were stuck on blues at the time (may still be), only breaking the same old with an occasional two step.

Based on how little connection there is between music and how people dance where I go, it doesn't seem to matter a whole lot what is played.
The CW place I've been going to for years has lost me one night a week because they don't play enough of what I consider to be good dance music. Lots of young people though. And that's OK because maybe after over a decade of twice a week it's time for a change.
I REALLY enjoyed the music at a Wednesday evening swing event here. Early swing/jazz a lot of which is new to me. Will get back into that this fall.
I've never thought of myself as a Westie anyhow.
 

Partner Dancer

Well-Known Member
#15
I'm at the July 4th convention in Arizona at the Camelback Inn. It's sponsored by the GPSDC,

Almost all the music after about 1 hour of dancing is hip hop or EDM (electronic dance music).

I told the DJ that all the music sounds the same. I also told DJ that I have no problem dancing to that music but I think in a convention a sampling of the good WCS music should be done from at least the 1940's on up to present time. That's a lot of music folks, including as I explained to the DJ, rock from 1955 to present, big band from the 30s and 40s, blues since 1920, r&b from the 70s, etc, etc.

DJ explained to me that DJs have been directed to play what they are playing and can't change.

This is a pathetic situation. Apparently the powers that control WCS have decided that the only music we can dance to is hip hop and EDM.
Yes. WCS is going through a phase of boring/pathetic music. But, then,
there're still lots of people who will continue dancing to the crap. So
much for the musicality WCS claims.

Just saw the WCS choreographed by Benji on SYTYCD. Pathetically
fast and lacks dance quality due to no settling time for contrasting
quick and slow. But the non-dancing audience wouldn't know any
better.
 

Siggav

Active Member
#16
To clarify, I did not have to look up in the mood. As I said it has been played so often at lindy dances that people are tired of it and don't like it anymore. The others I had to look up, but often I don't know the names of the songs even though I know the song so that doesn't mean too much.
 

Spitfire

Well-Known Member
#17
I was at this same event with Generalist and though I had a great time I agree about the music selections, much of which I did not care for. Would like to see a more even mix, but guess many DJ's and organizers want to go along with current musical trends.
 

RiseNFall

Well-Known Member
#18
At least one WCS event (a large one) run a separate room part of the time that plays music that is more towards blues. If I had to guess, John Festa is the DJ… and I'm not going to come up with the name of the event at the moment, but next time I run across it, I'll post it. On the east coast, so it will only be of mild interest to most of you.
 

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
#19
At least one WCS event (a large one) run a separate room part of the time that plays music that is more towards blues. If I had to guess, John Festa is the DJ… and I'm not going to come up with the name of the event at the moment, but next time I run across it, I'll post it. On the east coast, so it will only be of mild interest to most of you.
Liberty?
 
#20
Yes. WCS is going through a phase of boring/pathetic music. But, then,
there're still lots of people who will continue dancing to the crap. So
much for the musicality WCS claims.
Most WCS dancers pride themselves that they can dance to any crappy music handed out to them -- so they get what they want -- crappy music. Musicality in this case demands that most songs have a 4x4 beat, just like a pendulum.

Most idiots can learn to program the beats on a rhythm machine. For the modern WCS dancer the machine churns out what they want: boom boom boom boom.
 

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