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introducing some non-traditional swing dance music to our same-old same-old
  • HelenHelen December 2011
    Posts: 7
    This train of thought is a spin-off from the thread on electro-swing music. I recently had some conversations with non-swing dancing friends of mine about "what kind of music we dance to", and it made me realize that, for the most part, we get into certain grooves with regards to what music is played at socials. 20s/30s swing, some big band, ella/louis/benny, etc. It's all kind of the same after a while. Rarely, someone tosses in some rockabilly or something a bit newer.

    I understand that everyone loves dancing to music they recognize, but I wonder if we'd expand our creativity as well as draw in a wider audience if we started exploring some...different music to dance to. For example, I'm a big fan of blues dancing to groovy stuff from Daft Punk (http://grooveshark.com/s/Something+About+Us/2gRkp2?src=5) or Maroon 5 (http://grooveshark.com/s/Secret/3hZAQ0?src=5). I love dancing to Billy Joel's Only the Good Die Young (http://grooveshark.com/s/Only+The+Good+Die+Young/4jSZWS?src=5). I wish somebody would play They Might Be Giants (http://grooveshark.com/s/Istanbul+Not+Constantinople+/1mN3NS?src=5). Oh and of course there's all that awesome electro-swing stuff.

    I guess my point is, there's a lot of very danceable stuff out there that doesn't fall into the traditional swing dance music genre. I (and I know some of you others as well...*cough cough* Andy) think it's a lot of fun to dance to some new stuff every once in a while. It challenges me to move in different ways AND I think that non-swing dancers who maybe don't quite get into the 20s/30s/traditional stuff would be interested in swing if they saw that they could dance to Daft Punk or whatnot.

    So, discuss (and don't hate)! And post playlists of your favorite non-traditional music to dance to!
  • CariCari December 2011
    Posts: 1
    There's a dancer named Justin Riley who did an alternative blues set at Off Grid Blues. It was awesome, one of the best sets I've ever danced to. I recommend getting in touch with him for some inspiration on the blues end of that. He might know some good alternative swing music too...
  • shaugranshaugran December 2011
    Posts: 1
    Here are some of my non-trad favorites:
    "Pure Imagination," performed by Maroon 5.

    "Someone Like You," by Adele.

    "Whatever You Like," performed by Anya Marina.

    "Lullaby," by The Cure.

    "Love Cats," by the Cure.

    "Sweet Jane," performed by the Cowboy Junkies.

    "Blue Moon," performed by the Cowboy Junkies.

    "Sweet the Sting," by Tori Amos.
  • Tia December 2011
    Posts: 3
    Here's my thing. When Braden and I first started getting good at lindy hop, Braden was working at getting me into the Sacramento punk scene. But lindy hop to punk music is not really lindy hop, even if it's fun. At that time, we couldn't have possibly triple stepped at that speed. So it was a stripped down, simplified dance, with a lot of jumping and ridiculous energy.

    I feel like there are certain times for alternative music, but it's not at regular dances so much as at house parties. I tend towards lindy hop when partner dancing, even if the song doesn't ask for it. But when I go out to dance, I expect to dance to music that was written with lindy hop in mind.
  • HelenHelen December 2011
    Posts: 7
    I understand, Tia. Some non-traditional music is simply not at the right tempo. But I do think that there's non-traditional music that is indeed at the right tempo for a fast lindy or charleston. The Caravan Palace ones I listed in my post regarding electroswing (another thread), for example, would be great to charleston or fast lindy to, but you might have to listen extra carefully to the "less obvious" layer of the beat. With some of these non-traditional songs, the lindy-able beat is definitely less obvious.

    I guess it also plays into how alternative music helps me explore different ways of moving...sometimes you can't do the same moves as you normally do to your normal lindy. I don't think a social dance should be filled with the non-traditional stuff, but the occasional insertion would be a fun change.
  • stockdancerstockdancer December 2011
    Posts: 9
    There are 2 types of music, the kind that makes you want to dance and the kind that doesn't. I don't think anyone should try to go dance to Leo Ornstein's "Suicide on an Airplane," but I find it thrilling and inspiring to listen to. And while most people would avoid trying to lindy hop to Max Roach and Clifford Brown's bebop albums, they're music has taught me a lot about dancing. I find things in these works that really inspires me creatively and musically and I bring that to the dance floor. If Caravan Palace is what inspires you to do the lindy hop or makes you syncopate or move in a new way (And I can see why, cause they're pretty awesome!) then you should dance to them and bring what it has shown you to the traditional tunes. Exploring new possibilities is as important to Lindy hop as exploring the past.

    I don't think that triple-steps are entirely crucial to lindy hopping. For me the important aspects of the dance are syncopation, impovisation, the break away, and the stretch/compress connection. As long as I can get these elements in, I can lindy hop to that song.

    The important part of it all is that only people who want to be doing this sort of experimentation should be doing it. This means that unless the venue makes it clear that this is the sort of musical experience they will provide, we should hear music in the style of 20's-mid 40's jazz (I'm not going to be upset if the rare electroswing tune makes the playlist, but it shouldn't happen every week).

    Perhaps we need an occasional event that does explore musical genre's a bit? I've had my heart set on throwing a bebop and pop dance night for awhile, but we could even just open up the the floor to whatever music people want to dance to. In Herrang we did a bad Lindy night and played the worst music we'd heard played. It was horribly amazing!

    P.S. I heard someone Dj "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion once, great story, ask me about it sometime.
  • HelenHelen January 2012
    Posts: 7
    great idea andy! i'd definitely be in for a jam session to whatever music people want to put on.
  • TwoStepFTW January 2012
    Posts: 2
    "20s/30s swing, some big band, ella/louis/benny, etc. It's all kind of the same after a while. Rarely, someone tosses in some rockabilly or something a bit newer."

    My first thought is that there is an enormous amount of musical variety in the statement above. Given that the follow up statement is that 'It's all kind of the same after a while" ... I mean just the variety between individual artists like Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman is enormous, let alone the change in dance music from the mid-20s through the late 30s.

    My second thought is that it took almost no time at all for the new Windyhop to turn into the old Windyhop ... nothing's new 'round here it seems

    My third thought is that not all good music is good dance music, and not all good dance music is good jazz dance music, and not all good jazz dance music is good swing dance music ... and very very very little good swing dance music is post 1940s pop. Please note that does not make it bad dance music ... swing is not a value judgement

    My fourth thought is that I'd better put on the asbestos typing gloves :)

    "Learn one step and two step and you can rule the world"
    Me, sometime last year
  • MiddlesMiddles January 2012
    Posts: 4
    This conversation has been had so many times over the years and it always makes me ask the same questions.

    If swing/blues music bores someone or someone doesn't like swing/blues music why are you a swing/blues dancer?

    Imagine a Civil War reenactor saying:

    "I'm so bored of the Civil War can't we reenact some other war?"

    To take it a step further imagine that same person reenacting a different war but still dressed like a Civil War soldier.

    We are a sub-culture/community of people who gather together based on our common interest in swing dancing. Now the motivations for that interest might be different (socializing, drinking, jazz fan, exercise, learning, etc.) but the key component is that we share a common interest. Swing/Blues dancing.

    I agree with the sentiments stated above. You can dance to whatever you want, using whatever skills or talents you have, but the other people at the event are at a swing/blues event and have a reasonable expectation of hearing swing/blues music. We aren't looking to go to a wedding reception.

    Here is a great article on "Why Music Matters" on the new Jive Junction that pretty well sums up my feelings on the matter.


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