Exchanges and their DJs

Tips and techniques of the trade

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swinginstyle
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Exchanges and their DJs

#1 Post by swinginstyle » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:19 pm

When an exchange contacts a DJ about djing at their exchange, what typically transpires? Do some exchanges demand certain styles of music, or just let you do your thing? I'm just curious. How do you initially gauge what to play?
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mousethief
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#2 Post by mousethief » Thu Apr 22, 2004 6:20 am

My advice - use as many local DJs and bands as you possibly can. Exchanges are really about showing off your scene and providing for your dancers first. Happy locals make happy exchanges.

I suggest getting DJs that match your vision of the event and then contacting them directly. Discuss the event first and give them a big picture before discussing price. Some DJs are within driving distance, so those might be more accomodating to your budget but who knows?

Also, I try to match my DJs to my scene - maybe a little off-center to shake things up. If your scene has a *Kansas City sound* and your dancers don't travel much, bringing in a big name probably won't mean much to your dancers.

$0.02

Kalman
Last edited by mousethief on Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Roy
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#3 Post by Roy » Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:25 am

That really depends on what you want. For me this transaction rarely asks me to play somthing sepcific, but if it is with a group or a scene I am not familar with I ask what that scene normally hears and what you would like to hear from me. I think if you are familiar with a DJ and knows what he plays this is not needed. I think if you are unfamilar with someone it is not unreasable to describe what they play. Get a sense of what the DJ is about.

There was one place where I was asked to mix it up between modern groove jazz and big band to not play any slow blues because no one in that scene knew how to dance slow blues, to keep the tempo ranges moderate with occasional higher tempos. But that is what I do normally(except I throw in a few slow blues songs) so it was not an unreasoble request.

I have been asked to not play any blues because there was a seperate blues room room, I felt that was a reasonable request.

For blues rooms I always ask what the organizers are looking for because what blues music is varies so much from person to person.

For price you can do it 2 ways, state we are ofereing DJ's this, or if you really want someone specific you can email and ask what would you want to come to our event. Depending on the DJs demand and avaliabilty what is needed can vary greatly. Some will dj for free, some for weekend comp, some need airfare, some may want a standard rate and air fare.

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Lawrence
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#4 Post by Lawrence » Thu Apr 22, 2004 1:12 pm

Usually, the selection process does much of the filtering. But the event planner gets to control the DJ, not the other way around.

I frankly welcome tweaks or suggestions on how I can do a good job for any event, not just Exchanges, especially when I'm travelling and a visitor. Most DJs are the same way. I've never encountered anyone copping an attitude about the guidance a planner gives... strike that... come to think of it, I can think of two DJs who would cop an attitude, but it is rare.
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http://www.AustinLindy.com

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#5 Post by mousethief » Thu Apr 22, 2004 1:17 pm

It wasn't me. I kept my set lists.

Kalman
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#6 Post by KevinSchaper » Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:19 pm

At an exchange especially, I think all you can do is pick your DJs well. Get folks who have a wide range, but recognize where they lean. If you pick good/experienced DJs, you don't really need to tell them what to play.

at one extreme is djs going nuts with a full hour of motown or dixieland or neoswing, at the other is the kind of painful micromanagement that will make those DJs decide not to spin for you again... try to shoot for the middle. :)

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#7 Post by Downeastdancer » Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:46 pm

ooooh! Just got onto a fast internet connection (for tonight only) - what a difference!

Maine is having our second exchange July 30 - August 1. Think cool ocean breezes, warm (not hot) days, starry nights.... and let me know if you want to DJ! Email me at downeastdance@acadia.net . We're very friendly and appreciative, too.
"Take A Train!"

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Drew
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#8 Post by Drew » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:40 pm

mousethief wrote:My advice - use as many local DJs and bands as you possibly can. Exchanges are really about showing off your scene and providing for your dancers first. Happy locals make happy exchanges.
I came in from Minneapolis last year to spin at KCLX because I play lots of Kansas City music and it seemed to go over all right.

I disagree that exchanges are or should be all about the locals. A party is all about the company--since when is any party about who is throwing it? Parties are thrown to show the guests a good time, and a host is shown off when the guests have a good time.

If a scene has got the local talent to use all local DJs, hey, go for it. But scenes like that are the exception and not the rule. LA/OC did it at the Binge, which I didn't go to this year, and DC relies on few imports for their exchange. Cleveland used several local DJs to showcase the rockabilly interest in their scene, and they did not go over very well, even when they were put at the lesser-attended daytime events.

On the subject, I wrote this on Windyhop regarding similar subject matter.
I wasn't going to post this but I really think that the 'availability' excuse, which is used most every year by someone, is a copout. Go for the best bands you have, make no excuses or compromises.

Yes, an exchange is about the local flavor. But, just like having someone over for dinner, be it an long-lost friend or someone you see every day, chances are you're not going to serve macaroni and cheese off paper plates, no matter if that is the only thing in the cabinets (unless your name is Valentine).

More than likely, you'll wash the dishes, tidy up, maybe dust off the cookbook. It's an issue of pride--you put your best foot forward. You go the extra mile to make your guests feel appreciated, like you want them there. It is a special event to have company, act like it. Don't make people put up with the lame band and the crappy DJ they have to grin and bear week in and week out.
and this:
Swing business is still business--that's not the argument. But because this is a fundamental truth, other rules of business apply--you may choose to view your event in a competitive market of other events comepting for the Lindy Hopper's dollar, vacation time, and frequent flyer miles. Showcasing the local flavor of Chicago, a city that has deep resources for live jazz and deep roots to the history of exchange culture, its destination quality for visitors, and ease of accessibility via discount airfare, Chicago has more potential than most Lindy Hop communities to put on a good show.

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#9 Post by swinginstyle » Mon Apr 26, 2004 4:00 am

Drew wrote:I disagree that exchanges are or should be all about the locals. A party is all about the company--since when is any party about who is throwing it? Parties are thrown to show the guests a good time, and a host is shown off when the guests have a good time.
I do think an exchange should reflect the city, or at least the image we would want to project. Currently, we're in the planning stages for KCLX 2005. One of our goals to showcase our city's jazz history and we would like the music to reflect that. That may change for late night venues, but that's an overall goal. And actually, Drew, your name came up, because of your KC Jazz music knowledge, not to mention you already have experience at our first exchange.

In terms of where our scene is at, I'm talking about building an image. We're a small scene if you look at the number of swing dancers. We also don't have many talented local DJs. For us, it can't be all about the locals. Currently, the majority of locals are ECS'ers and neo-fanatics, not exactly the most lindy friendly city. Fortunately, we have dedicated people with a burning desire to build our city's lindy scene.
Don't take swing underground!!

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#10 Post by Roy » Mon Apr 26, 2004 6:00 am

swinginstyle wrote:I do think an exchange should reflect the city, or at least the image we would want to project. Currently, we're in the planning stages for KCLX 2005. One of our goals to showcase our city's jazz history and we would like the music to reflect that. That may change for late night venues, but that's an overall goal. And actually, Drew, your name came up, because of your KC Jazz music knowledge, not to mention you already have experience at our first exchange.
.
Does that mean you are going to book Jay McShann to play?

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#11 Post by mousethief » Mon Apr 26, 2004 1:05 pm

swinginstyle wrote:
In terms of where our scene is at, I'm talking about building an image. We're a small scene if you look at the number of swing dancers.
New Orleans is a small scene and it's one of the best ones anywhere. I believe Ithaca was fairly small as well and given what they've accomplished, I'd have to say smaller might be better.
We also don't have many talented local DJs. For us, it can't be all about the locals. Currently, the majority of locals are ECS'ers and neo-fanatics, not exactly the most lindy friendly city. Fortunately, we have dedicated people with a burning desire to build our city's lindy scene.
It doesn't have to be 100% about the locals, but you do want to keep them happy. Every successful exchange I have seen "keeps it real" and keeps the locals happy as well. Throwing a large lindy event that marginalizes bread-n-butter people in your home scene is not worth it in my opinion. To take up Drew's point, if I have 5 screaming kids, I don't invite people over for dinner.

Kalman
"The cause of reform is hurt, not helped, when an activist makes an idiotic suggestion."

swinginstyle
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#12 Post by swinginstyle » Mon Apr 26, 2004 10:43 pm

Roy wrote:
swinginstyle wrote:I do think an exchange should reflect the city, or at least the image we would want to project. Currently, we're in the planning stages for KCLX 2005. One of our goals to showcase our city's jazz history and we would like the music to reflect that. That may change for late night venues, but that's an overall goal. And actually, Drew, your name came up, because of your KC Jazz music knowledge, not to mention you already have experience at our first exchange.
.
Does that mean you are going to book Jay McShann to play?
kitkat did suggest that we try for it. no promises.
Don't take swing underground!!

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#13 Post by LindyChef » Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:29 am

mousethief wrote:Every successful exchange I have seen "keeps it real" and keeps the locals happy as well.
[Dave Chapelle Voice]
And welcome to another installment of "When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong."
[/Dave Chapelle Voice]

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Drew
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#14 Post by Drew » Tue Apr 27, 2004 10:54 am

swinginstyle wrote:
Roy wrote:
swinginstyle wrote:I do think an exchange should reflect the city, or at least the image we would want to project. Currently, we're in the planning stages for KCLX 2005. One of our goals to showcase our city's jazz history and we would like the music to reflect that. That may change for late night venues, but that's an overall goal. And actually, Drew, your name came up, because of your KC Jazz music knowledge, not to mention you already have experience at our first exchange.
.
Does that mean you are going to book Jay McShann to play?
kitkat did suggest that we try for it. no promises.
You will get that National audience if you land McShann. Guaranteed.

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#15 Post by Nate Dogg » Tue Apr 27, 2004 11:15 am

mousethief wrote:
New Orleans is a small scene and it's one of the best ones anywhere. I believe Ithaca was fairly small as well and given what they've accomplished, I'd have to say smaller might be better.

Kalman
I think you are missing some of the cause and effect. New Orleans and Ithaca had certain attributes going for them. New Orleans is a destination city, people love to go there. Similar to Vegas. New Orleans also has a deep pool of musicians, history, etc... And most importantly, Keith and the few dancers worked hard at making their Exchanges work. I would say that the smallness of there scene was something they overcame, not something positive that helped them.

Ithaca has good geography (like Albany) and certain people in their scene that helped make it a success.

I think of plenty of less well attended small scene Exchanges over the past few years.

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