I've played music at a few events outside the mainstream lindyhop scene. One was at a free outdoor festival, others were in a cafe/bar. I found it quite relaxing to be able to play music without feeling like a failure if people aren't dancing. And it's a great way to share your music with new people.dogpossum wrote:But when I do mellower gigs (I've done some afternoon sets for families at Spiegeltent), I'm not sure how to work the energy in the room. Crazy arse, manic energy lindy doesn't really work when you're playing for a mixed afternoon tea crowd of lindy hoppers, kids, grandparents, parents and teenagers (even if they're all up and dancing). Nor if you're playing for a calmer, Monday evening post-class group who're really interested in drinking and chatting and catching up as well as dancing.
Here's my question:
If you're DJing a mellower gig like that, what do you aim for, in terms of 'vibe'? What sort of songs would you play? How do you choose songs to develop a particular vibe, and what sort of vibe do you aim for? How does it change your approach to 'the wave', in Russell's sense especially?
My approach at the cafe gigs was to emphasise tunes more than rhythms, and not to play too loudly. I tried to pitch the volume so that people near the speakers could hear the music properly, and those at the other end of the room could talk comfortably. I also started taking requests, which helped to build rapport with the crowd, and give me an idea of their tastes. At the outdoor festival, a couple of dancers came along and did some freestyle dancing to some 30s tracks, which went down really well.
I think I would aim for a lower average tempo, say around 140bpm instead of 165bpm, and include a lot of well-known tunes.
Examples of 30s/40s tracks:
Begin the Beguine by Artie Shaw
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen by The Andrews Sisters or Ella Fitzgerald
The Dipsy Doodle by Ella Fitzgerald
Tuxedo Junction, Pennsylvania 6-5000, Chattanooga Choo Choo and In The Mood all by Glenn Miller
Jeeper Creepers by Louis Armstrong
On The Sunny Side Of The Street and Yes Indeed by Tommy Dorsey
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby and Banana Split For My Baby by Louis Jordan
Blue Skies, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, Love Me or Leave Me and The Flat Foot Floogie by Benny Goodman
Honeysuckle Rose and All That Meat And No Potatoes by Fats Waller
Walk 'Em, Be Careful and No More Love by Buddy Johnson
Or if you're into a 50s/60s feel, late Basie, Sinatra and Bobby Darin.
If it's a relaxed, mellow gig rather than a full-on high-energy dance then I think the 'waves' are less important as you're not dealing with so much energy. But it's important to stay focussed on the crowd and adjust to them because they might quickly change from sitting and chatting to dancing.