Any ballroom DJs in here?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Me, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I like to alternate fast dances with slower ones, so no jive/quickstep/viennese back to back. :)
  2. Angel HI

    Angel HI Active Member

    At the risk of being redundant, re the OP's o.p., I think the best post was to group songs that are relative beginning with one that might be more obvious. Following that, 1- leaving enough time between songs for partner changes, etc., and 2- either announcing the next song, or having some sort of signage stating what it is.

    It is important to keep in mind, too, that social dance is designed so that several dances might be appropriate to the same rhythm/song, whereas ballroom is designed for persons to dance the same dance around a LOD. I feel that a large part of the problem has been in the teaching. Too often, we teach students to dance a particular dance to a particular song, rather than teaching them to hear and understand rhythms, and dance accordingly.
  3. Me

    Me New Member

    OMG it's Angel_HI! :eek:
  4. bclure

    bclure Member

    I like to call dances, nobody in my area does that.. If I don't call the dance, I make sure that I am the first one out on the floor doing whatever I think the dance should be. :)
  5. Kaze

    Kaze New Member

    Over here, it's not easy to play a segment to please everybody. I usually play one fast and one slow dance and try my best to stick to the sequence.. Most regular dancers know what is the next dance...The popular songs i usually play 3 songs and the non popular songs i play one or two depending on the crowd response.

    Feel free to upload any other comments...
  6. chrisjohnston

    chrisjohnston Well-Known Member

    I personally always call the dances.Keep length to 3 mins for medium paced dances.1.5-2 mins for harder or faster dances.You must remember that at a comp the MC essentially calls the dances so why not for social dancers.
    Cheers

    Chris(the worlds worst DJ according to some or maybe all on this forum)
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh! You crack me up!!
  8. regis

    regis Active Member

    Food for Thought: recently I watchen an episode of that show that does the Bar makeovers. In this show they took a bar and revamped it to be more of an upscale nightclub. One of the things he did was reforming the whole DJ business. The old DJ setup had the dj hidden off to the back so that dancers never saw him. With the sound system he was barely audible anyways. The revamp took the DJ out of hiding and put him right up front where everybody could see him, gave him a better sound system so he and the music could really be heard, and brought in a pro to train him. They told him that it was his job to keep the place bumping and happening, which meant observing the crowd, getting on the mic when needed, or mixing the tunes to get the place going.

    Not that you are DJing for a night club, but I think the thing about not being afriad to get on the mic and make yourself heard applies. Especially if you announce what dance is coming up next, it allowes us to look for someone we know can dance that.
  9. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Eh. Personally, I prefer the dances aren't called. It's jarring and unnecessary when most of the dancers can identify the music, or can wait a few seconds to figure it out. Comp MCs call the dances so the competitors (who are being judged, and may have to set up routines) 100% know what they're about to dance, and so the judges know what dance/level/round/etc. they're judging.

    That said, by all means call dances if your dancers like it. It's great for dancers who can't figure it out themselves, and for venues that play a wide variety of dances (beyond the usual 19).

    I like shorter (comp-length) music... because I am weeeaaak and lazy. :p

    But as long as the music's good and no one's playing bad saxophone (long story) you're certainly not a bad DJ :D
  10. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    5 minute VWs, please! :D
    cornutt, SwayWithMe and Mr 4 styles like this.
  11. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    With some SONGS, you really need the DJ/someone to call it (one of the teachers who does not usually DJ, at least not when I'm there, was working the party last Friday and she called all the dances, which was very helpful for a lot of people.) Some have the World's Longest Intros, some have beats that are not obvious, sometimes swing dancers need a reminder this is first and foremost a quickstep....

    I would never say you were the worst DJ ever, Chris. For starters, I can understand what you're saying over the sound system...
  12. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    World's Longest Intros... yup! It's fun when the song is over-played enough that you know to set up for a hustle when other dancers are starting to waltz (and about to be very confused).
  13. TwoRightFeet

    TwoRightFeet Active Member

    I don't necessarily mind if the dances are called or not as they are about to start. However, I really like it when I know ahead of time what dances are coming up, as I prefer to dance certain dances with certain people and knowing the upcoming dance allows me to start looking for my preferred partner, or arrange with them a dance or so in advance to do a particular dance. Having a list of upcoming dances would help. Another option would be to make a call every 3 or 4 dances announcing the next dance and the following 2 or 3 dances. That way you're not calling every dance, but can make a point of calling just before any dance that might have a long intro or be difficult for beginners to decide what dance to do.
  14. MintyMe

    MintyMe Member

    DJ's, do you care if you call the dance and I do something different?
    For example,
    you say it's bolero, I dance rumba.
    you say it's samba, I dance merengue.

    Does it matter to you if you call samba, I'm on the floor first dancing merengue and then the majority of dancers merengue too? Am I usurping your position?
  15. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    That's a good question. Recently, I've noticed a trend at several venues I've attended for music to be towards the fast end of the tempo range for the called dances. Often, a song called as a bolero is too fast for my taste, so I dance rumba instead. Or, it's called a rumba but it's in the NC2S tempo range.

    On the other hand, I also DJ from time to time, and I was taught a while back that if the called dance is one of the more obscure ones, then the DJ can/should also call an alternate dance for the less experienced dancers. E.g., suggest rumba as an alternate to bolero, or ECS as an alternate to WCS. Where it can get in trouble is if you wind up with a mix of traveling and stationary dances on the floor.
  16. regis

    regis Active Member

    agreed! I was involved in one of these. One night the studio played a song and called as a Fox Trot or a Rumba. Dummy me, I asked someone to Fox Trot and almost everyone else was doing Rumba. It was impossible trying to travel and navigate around the rumba couples.
  17. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Agree; I think the big thing is you don't do an alternate that causes traffic problems (ie if they call a quickstep, don't make a traffic hazard by doing swing/Lindy unless the floor's big enough you can stay in the middle easily.) I think at least at most studio parties where there's a mix of Int people and American people when it comes to Bolero and Rumba, there just WILL be people doing both as a matter of course.
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  18. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    i began DJ-ing about 2 years ago. it's my take that if you have a need to be right, you probably shouldn't be a DJ; someone will invariably choose to dance what they prefer, given any opportunity.

    tempo ranges matter, but IMO a good DJ should also be able to articulate objective criterion on how to determine what music satisfies what genre.

    if everything else thinks a samba is not a samba. it's probably because the music chosen does not have a consistent dotted 8th/16th rhythmic pattern in it.

    IMO musicianship helps, but i have found that it also can hamper; i started life on the musical side and my background includes composition, arranging and conducting. as such, the concept of a correlation between movement & music and how one shapes the other has always influenced my artistry. as a conductor, my movement had a direct impact on lyricism, dynamics and overall musicality of what was being played. as a dancer, it goes in the other direction; what i hear influences my choice of movement, figure, and styling. what i tend to forget is that not everyone has this frame of reference, and the nuances of some of my favorite songs are lost on the majority of the patrons i typically deal with.

    for the crowds i deal with, i have adopted the following approach:
    1) announce the next three dances - that gives people a chance to line up favorite partners for certain dances. for the actual next dance, state the dance, but also note what other dances people might consider dancing to it. i find this particularly useful when i perceive that some folks prefer one type of dance over another. for example, i might choose something like the rolling stones honky tonk woman and say this is a west coast swing, but those of you who prefer latin, you can also chacha to this. this gets more people on the floor.

    2) waltz tango foxtrot rumba chacha jive/swing are your bread and butter dances. i tend to play these twice as often as the others. for my demographics, WCS & NC2S aren't far behind. hustle, salsa, samba. VW. quickstep, etc. i might do each twice a night max, depending on the crowd.

    3) the first hour, you've likely got more beginners/folks who took the lesson and you need to make the music as uncomplicated as possible. during hour one, edelweiss over hayley westenra's dark waltz, quiereme mucho over something like this masquerade by george benson for bolero. for cha-cha, something with a really obvious "4 and 1" motif in the rhythm. for foxtrot, something by frank sinatra/michael buble over something off paul anka's 'rock swings' album.

    4) i prefer to alternate smooth & latin, slow vs. fast, but it's not a hard and fast rule. my first hour might look something like:

    waltz chacha foxtrot VW rumba salsa tango QS WCS NC2S ECS waltz samba foxtrot hustle WCS NC2S chacha tango merengue

    with VW samba QS about 2 minutes in length and everything else maybe 3:20 or so.

    5) the last hour, it's the more hardcore crowd, and if you've built up some trust, you can be a bit less pedantic in your choices and experiment a bit with new songs, etc.

    6) i personally prefer to honor requests for a certain dance over a certain song, unless i get multiple requests for that song in particular and a lot of times there's a reason why the song requested doesn't get played very often.
  19. chrisjohnston

    chrisjohnston Well-Known Member

    Great post TSB.

    Cheers Chris
  20. Big Guy DJ

    Big Guy DJ New Member

    TSB you hit the nail on the head. As a dancer for 13 years and ballroom DJing for 12, I appriciate the song genre being announced when I am out dancing. As a DJ, I never know how much of the crowd are beginners that are still learning the music and what to dance to it. I normally announce the next two songs when I am DJing. I also announce any special requests, so the crowd does not wonder "why is he playing this song or genre".

    I do create myself playlists for each night that I play. I use the slow song, fast song method, it works at the dances I play at.

    One thing I did not see mentioned on the subject is "Are the DJs here staying up with the latest Ballroom music that comes out?". I try too. Yes, the music discs are a bit pricey, but if you are into DJing Ballroom music, it is a must. I am one too, that likes to find modern music to play for the dancers. Sometimes I will sit and sample music on itunes to see if I can find music that I can play at the dances.

    WE were all once beginners, so put yourself back in those shoes and think about when you first started dancing.

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