Weaning crowd off of favorites

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Eyeball
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#16 Post by Eyeball » Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:44 pm

I remember PBDA people wearing those shirts back around 1998.
Will big bands ever come back?

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la musette
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#17 Post by la musette » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:50 am

Eyeball wrote:I remember PBDA people wearing those shirts back around 1998.
You need to meet littlebrother on the swingcolumbus forums. You guys post identically.

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#18 Post by Eyeball » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:13 am

I'll check it out! :)
Will big bands ever come back?

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CountBasi
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#19 Post by CountBasi » Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:25 pm

I am finding this here as well. The dancers here are depending on hearing a lot of 'old faithfuls' they know and love. Resistance to new tunes is unfortunately high. I'd feel ok playing up to five scarcely-heard-before-locally numbers in one two-hour slot here. More than that and I don't know if I'd be asked to DJ again.

It's a tricky environment to operate under.
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#20 Post by Toon Town Dave » Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:43 pm

Perhaps it's not that common or I've been lucky. In an hour set, I'll probably play at least a couple of familiar tunes, a couple that are probably new to even long time dancers and lots in between. I never really get too hung up on specific recordings or songs and none of my audiences have either.

I will pay attention to preferences for a particular style or sound. If folks are used to dancing to stuff that sounds like Eva Cassidy's "Wade in the Water", but not stuff that sounds like Count Basie's "Shorty George", I'm not likely to win them over with Jimmie Lunceford but I might with Sam Cooke or Johnny Guitar Watson or some other westie-hop tune. From there, I can take them on a journey to some early B.B. King, then some Jay McShann or Big Joe Turner and perhaps eventually working to some Lionel Hampton or Johnny Hodges.

Sometimes it's a fishing expedition trying to figure out what the crowd digs but once I have their attention, it's pretty easy to pick stuff without reaching into the bag of tired standards.

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#21 Post by sdswingr » Fri Aug 31, 2007 4:38 pm

Djing here in Salt Lake is interesting. The demographic is mostly poor ass BYU college students. There is a small core group of experienced dancers, and a bunch of beginners. It is a challenge keeping people on the floor. I hate to play the cliche swing songs, but the beginners love them, and it keeps them on the floor, but then I get those annoying glaring stares from the other dancers, which I understand, because I don't like this song either.
Try something a bit different, maybe a little up tempo, and of course you get about 3 beginners, and the others still glare at you because they are lazy and think it is too fast.
So to please the experienced dancers I play the cliche up tempo song and they are on the floor. :roll:

Oh then there is blues dancing here. Since I just moved from Portland, watching these people blues dance is hilarious.

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Lawrence
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#22 Post by Lawrence » Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:51 pm

I actually find that beginners will dance to almost anything... so long as there is a critical mass of them so that they don't worry about being watched. Their greatest fear is being watched and revealed for what they are.

Thus, in a subtle sense, I doubt that they really NEED the pop songs. The pop songs probably just provide a subtle signal that it is safe to get on the floor because everyone else is going to get up, too. However, with enough seed dancers to simply break the ice and create a critical mass, anything should get beginners going. In general, the regulars are the ones you need to keep the floor full.
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zipthebird
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#23 Post by zipthebird » Sat Sep 01, 2007 9:28 am

I've been finding the same thing about beginners. Most of the beginners that I encounter haven't really developed strong tastes yet, so they really will dance to just about anything, as long as it has a clear beat. So for beginners, I try to avoid:
- old recordings with obscured rhythm sections
- very groovy stuff where the rhythm section is playing in extreme spaces around the beat or implying a downbeat.

But other than that, if I have a crowd full of beginners, I take the opportunity to play as much interesting good music that I really like, in the hopes of molding their musical tastes to conform to mine. (Bwahahaha.)

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Lawrence
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#24 Post by Lawrence » Sat Sep 01, 2007 10:07 am

CountBasi wrote:I am finding this here as well. The dancers here are depending on hearing a lot of 'old faithfuls' they know and love. Resistance to new tunes is unfortunately high. I'd feel ok playing up to five scarcely-heard-before-locally numbers in one two-hour slot here. More than that and I don't know if I'd be asked to DJ again.

It's a tricky environment to operate under.
One suggestion that comes to mind is to re-evaluate your perception of what a Swing DJ does. A good Swing DJ does not just play music he or she likes. We can do that at home or in the car. Good DJs instead are somewhat chameleon-like, and can adapt to what the audience likes. Now, granted, the ideal is where your tastes and preferences can not only fit, but also mold the crowd's tastes and preferences; but you should first and foremost have a service-oriented attitude towards DJing.

As such (and I mean this respectfully), the critical nature of the question about weaning people off their favorites seems a bit misguided. It's like an attorney asking a support group of other attorneys how he can better convince his clients to do what HE wants them to do, not what THEY want to do. No, no, no; clients hire an attorney to accomplish THEIR goals, not the attorney's goals. Likewise, the venue hires a Swing DJ to accomplish the goals of its customers (the dancers) not of the DJ.

Now, if you don't LIKE "pandering to the crowd," then (in the most friendly tone possible) simply stop being a DJ and listen to your music at home. Or open your own venue and bear the risks yourself. Nobody is oppressing you or forcing you to be a DJ at someone else's venue.

As such, being able to get away with playing only a few "push the envelope" songs per set SHOULD be the norm. I finally figured out why I have trouble answering the main question of this thread; it is because of a mistaken assumption behind the question: that we should be able to play whatever we (the DJs) want, which is not the case at all.


That said, when I have wanted to shift tastes in a direction (and when I have the credibility and flexibility to do so), I have found that the best way to do so is ALWAYS to give them a little taste here and there, and leave them wanting more. Don't lose your audience by forcing an agenda down their throats: be it tempo, style, eclectic, vintage, groove, westie, or whatever. Slip it in so they can become accustomed to it. Eventually, if it comes anywhere close to their preferences, they will not only "see the light," but be enthusiastic about it.
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patrik
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#25 Post by patrik » Sat Sep 01, 2007 10:41 am

Lawrence wrote:One suggestion that comes to mind is to re-evaluate your perception of what a Swing DJ does. A good Swing DJ does not just play music he or she likes. We can do that at home or in the car. Good DJs instead are somewhat chameleon-like, and can adapt to what the audience likes. Now, granted, the ideal is where your tastes and preferences can not only fit, but also mold the crowd's tastes and preferences; but you should first and foremost have a service-oriented attitude towards DJing.

As such (and I mean this respectfully), the critical nature of the question about weaning people off their favorites seems a bit misguided. It's like an attorney asking a support group of other attorneys how he can better convince his clients to do what HE wants them to do, not what THEY want to do. No, no, no; clients hire an attorney to accomplish THEIR goals, not the attorney's goals. Likewise, the venue hires a Swing DJ to accomplish the goals of its customers (the dancers) not of the DJ.

Now, if you don't LIKE "pandering to the crowd," then (in the most friendly tone possible) simply stop being a DJ and listen to your music at home. Or open your own venue and bear the risks yourself. Nobody is oppressing you or forcing you to be a DJ at someone else's venue.

As such, being able to get away with playing only a few "push the envelope" songs per set SHOULD be the norm. I finally figured out why I have trouble answering the main question of this thread; it is because of a mistaken assumption behind the question: that we should be able to play whatever we (the DJs) want, which is not the case at all.


That said, when I have wanted to shift tastes in a direction (and when I have the credibility and flexibility to do so), I have found that the best way to do so is ALWAYS to give them a little taste here and there, and leave them wanting more. Don't lose your audience by forcing an agenda down their throats: be it tempo, style, eclectic, vintage, groove, westie, or whatever. Slip it in so they can become accustomed to it. Eventually, if it comes anywhere close to their preferences, they will not only "see the light," but be enthusiastic about it.
I agree, I wish more DJs would think about that.

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#26 Post by sdswingr » Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:52 pm

zipthebird wrote:I've been finding the same thing about beginners. Most of the beginners that I encounter haven't really developed strong tastes yet, so they really will dance to just about anything, as long as it has a clear beat. So for beginners, I try to avoid:
- old recordings with obscured rhythm sections
- very groovy stuff where the rhythm section is playing in extreme spaces around the beat or implying a downbeat.
Yeah after djing a 90 minute set last night (after teaching an hour class) I found that this scene is very unpredictable. I played 3 songs in a row that were upwards of 200bpm, the floor was packed. This is not usually the norm, they seemed to like the first one so I figured, let us see if they can handle another.
Which is a far far off place from the Portland scene, where I couldn't spin anything over 160.
Anyway, I definitely didn't play any groovy stuff, I just don't have it because I don't like it. Blues is way better anyway. Overall it was a good night.

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Lindyguy
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#27 Post by Lindyguy » Sun Sep 02, 2007 9:56 am

Lawrence wrote:
CountBasi wrote:I am finding this here as well. The dancers here are depending on hearing a lot of 'old faithfuls' they know and love. Resistance to new tunes is unfortunately high. I'd feel ok playing up to five scarcely-heard-before-locally numbers in one two-hour slot here. More than that and I don't know if I'd be asked to DJ again.

It's a tricky environment to operate under.
One suggestion that comes to mind is to re-evaluate your perception of what a Swing DJ does. A good Swing DJ does not just play music he or she likes. We can do that at home or in the car. Good DJs instead are somewhat chameleon-like, and can adapt to what the audience likes. Now, granted, the ideal is where your tastes and preferences can not only fit, but also mold the crowd's tastes and preferences; but you should first and foremost have a service-oriented attitude towards DJing.

As such (and I mean this respectfully), the critical nature of the question about weaning people off their favorites seems a bit misguided. It's like an attorney asking a support group of other attorneys how he can better convince his clients to do what HE wants them to do, not what THEY want to do. No, no, no; clients hire an attorney to accomplish THEIR goals, not the attorney's goals. Likewise, the venue hires a Swing DJ to accomplish the goals of its customers (the dancers) not of the DJ.

Now, if you don't LIKE "pandering to the crowd," then (in the most friendly tone possible) simply stop being a DJ and listen to your music at home. Or open your own venue and bear the risks yourself. Nobody is oppressing you or forcing you to be a DJ at someone else's venue.

As such, being able to get away with playing only a few "push the envelope" songs per set SHOULD be the norm. I finally figured out why I have trouble answering the main question of this thread; it is because of a mistaken assumption behind the question: that we should be able to play whatever we (the DJs) want, which is not the case at all.


That said, when I have wanted to shift tastes in a direction (and when I have the credibility and flexibility to do so), I have found that the best way to do so is ALWAYS to give them a little taste here and there, and leave them wanting more. Don't lose your audience by forcing an agenda down their throats: be it tempo, style, eclectic, vintage, groove, westie, or whatever. Slip it in so they can become accustomed to it. Eventually, if it comes anywhere close to their preferences, they will not only "see the light," but be enthusiastic about it.
Amen. I was just reading this thread like this -> :shock: thinking, "Why would you not listen to the people who put down their hard earned money to come dance at your venue (or promoters hiring YOU to play at their venue)?

I find that in the 3-4 hours I DJ every Thursday night plenty of time to fit in my favorites as well as crowd favorites. I don't know how much time other DJs have but I assume most dances run at least 3 hours. You should listen to your audience lest they find someone who will. I don't see any reason why you can't both satisfy and educate your audience.

BTW, I really like the idea of finding a song similar to a favorite (ala "Wade in the Water" reference above).
If you have to put fruit in it, it's not beer.

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#28 Post by scowl » Fri Nov 09, 2007 5:56 pm

One way around this is to play songs that sound like the favorites but aren't. Most people will just assume it's that song they demand to hear every night.

Some from my list:

Big Joe Turner: Instead of "Shake Rattle and Roll" play "Flip Flop and Fly".
Bobby Darin: Instead of "Beyond the Sea" play "Clementine".
Count Basie: Instead of "Splanky" play "Fair and Warmer".

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