Exploring the difference between radio and dance DJs

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Exploring the difference between radio and dance DJs

#1 Post by Lawrence » Mon Apr 28, 2003 1:13 pm

In another thread, I compared expecting a Swing DJ to play Benny Goodman to expecting a Rave/HipHop DJ to play Britney Spears. The point goes deeper than noting that the Swing Scene has evolved beyond the Swing Era pop that was popular in the mid-90s, but to an approach towards DJing. Rave/HipHop DJs tend to play stuff you have never heard, never will hear again, don't know and don't care what it is, but that makes you dance. It even goes to the extent of creating remixes on the spot, which is obviously not possible with straight-forward Jazz or blues. There's even an attitude: "You ain't gonna hear dis shit from NO-BODY else!"

We've dabbled on the difference before, but I want to hit it straight on. To what extent do you strive to play music that nobody has heard, nobody cares or knows what it is, that nobody will hear after they leave the dance (unless they ask you for it), but that you know will make people groove (or, to appease Reuben, will make them "swing" :) ) That means not only avoiding the popular stuff that is commonly associated with "Swing," such as Benny Goodman Swing Era pop as well as most Neo Swing, but also avoiding overplayed stuff that every other DJ plays like "Wade in the Water," "Stormy Monday" or "Rhythm," or even anything by Gene Harris or (more recently) Barbara Morrison? And it includes the extent to which you'll create your own re-mixes, record stuff off record albums that are unavailable on CD, and otherwise find and develop stuff that nobody else can play.

Of course it also depends on the venue, and we should play what will make our audience happy, but I'm talking about what you play at your regular, weekly gigs for a healthy mix of hard-core lindy hoppers, intermediate "I like it but I'm not going to spend all my money travelling every other weekend to dance" dancers and complete newbies.
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Austin Lindy Hop

Toon Town Dave
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#2 Post by Toon Town Dave » Tue Apr 29, 2003 2:57 am

I try to play unfamiliar stuff to local audiences. Our scene is barely out of the primordial ooze of neo-swing so even pop-sih BG stuff can be new.

That said, I think with any dance audience there should be some element of familarity. I don't meen playing the same overplayed stuff all the time but often playing different versions of a particular song or by a different artist or maybe even a different song that sounds similar. I also like to focus a lot on local or Canadian musicians and musicians that the audience may have an opportunity to see live.

I don't think I'd really get into re-mixing stuff. I respect the work of artists, sound engineers and producers behind every track and really don't like messing with their work. Besides that's not really a skill I've developed.