Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

A year ago I started this blog with certain goals in mind. Writing weekly articles turned the blog into an online ressource mainly for Teaching but also on DJ-ing, and Dancing. I will stick to my goals and this means I'll try to not repeat myself. I have said most of what I wanted to say for now and thus will stop posting weekly. I will of course continue dancing, teaching and dj-ing. I might post an article if I feel like it should be added or is missing. All articles will stay online available for you.

Ressources you find on this blog on:

How To Be A Better Student




Different Ways Of DJ-ing 

DJ Challenges - Ways To Improve Your DJ-ing skills


  1. Nonsense series - Things that took at some point the wrong turn to my understanding:
  2. A Dance Is Like A Conversation

Thanks to:

Eli&Alf for giving me lots and lots of feedback on content and readability before the articles went online. Without them, articles would've been strings of thoughts of mine, non-understandable to others.

Thanks to Lucy who has not only checked my articles for understandability but also improved the language since I'm not native tongue.

People that have encouraged me during the year and that got involved in interesting discussions that made me think of certain topics more and often resulted in articles.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

4 Groups DJs Often Forget

There are two main DJ topics. One is handling the dancefloor and the dancers and the other one is the music itself. What we often forget is that an event has more groups than DJs and dancers. During a good event all involved parties are happy and even though the other groups are often happy without our doing, we have to be aware who they are and stay alert to their needs.

Event Organisors

What makes event organisors happy differs strongly. Most of them are happy when the participants are happy. Some of them have additional requirements like a certain atmosphere or a certain style of music. Hence we have to be sensitive to organisors needs and doing a good job means to incorporate those into our sets. These don't always have to match what dancers would prefer - for example while dancers might enjoy a change in the band break (e.g. play Swing when the band plays Jazz), the organisor might want you to keep to the style of the band.

Other DJs

Most of the times nothing is needed to keep collegues happy, a good advice is to simply don't annoy them.
Many people seem to have the idea that they can just look on the cover of the vinyl or on the screen of a laptop to figure out a song instead of politely asking. While not every DJ reacts strongly to this, I recommend asking instead of just looking.
One commonly made mistake by beginner and intermediate DJs is that they play music they got from a fellow DJ, that djs the same night. Researching music is a lot of work, and a common thought to a happy face by a collegue that tells you "Do you hear this? This is YOUR song!" is the non-spoken "Yes, and I would've liked to play it!". Stick to the music you've researched yourself when playing at the same night as a DJ who gave you music.


Most bands I like I've never had to worry about my actions during the break, simply don't play any of their recorded music, they'll rock so hard, there is nothing to worry about.
Bands that aren't good are a lot trickier. While you don't want to show them off, there are also dancers and organisors to take care off. I like the honest approach and think it's best to save the dancers night and have the band see what makes dancers happy instead of trying to spare them loosing face. Because if they do it is up to them and they might be actually happy about experiencing what is needed, so they can improve too.

Location Owners

I'm used to dancing in local venues that are pubs or bars. These venues need to make money to work. So I try to DJ that the people on the dance floor go on and off and have time for a drink. This way they might dance less that one night, but won't get kicked out after two weeks, because they only drink water in the bathroom. This way both groups stay happy. Want to know how to do it? Read how to empty the dancefloor.

Try to be aware of all parties wishes and decide from there what is best. Know that it is not always possible to make everyone happy.

+1 if you like including everyone!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

.. If It Ain't Got That Jazz

In the past years there has been a trend in the lindy hop scene - we dance a lot more to New Orleans Jazz. Many scenes have local bands that play great New Orleans Jazz, like Bolden Buddies from Montpellier, Rhythm Junkies from Vilnius or the amazing Gentlemen & Gangsters from Göteborg. Even though it is somewhat obvious we don't think about the fact that this is not the music lindy hop was created to and what that implies.

The bands that played at the Savoy Ballroom were Luis Russel, Count Basie, Chick Webb, etc. They played Big Band Swing with one of the characteristics being the syncopation which made people start to incorporate the triple step into the dance.

Different music results in different dancing. When Swing music turned Boogie the dance changed, when Boogie turned Rock'n Roll, the dance changed again. Dances match their music.

The lindy hop we dance today very often is a non-syncopated lindy hop. Lots of charlestoning and kicking as result from tempo and rhythm from New Orleans Jazz. While I do love New Orleans Jazz and most definitely dancing to it, I think it's important to keep in mind, as dancer and especially as DJ, what music made the dance what it was.

Everyone with a computer, an internet connection and a free spotify account can DJ. This is definitely a win for the scene. It's important not to let ignorance overrun the work people had to do automatically when collecting and researching music on vinyl or CD. I think it becomes even more important to be aware as DJ what kind of music you play and what kind of dancing it nurtures.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DJ-ing Teachers - A Special Opportunity

We DJs can play the dancefloor but can't chose who comes to events we play at. So we have to cater to the needs of those who are there. If that means it's a crowd that can only dance to very slow music, we'll have to play mainly in that tempo range. Funnily enough if a DJ gets asked why (s)he is playing slow music the answer is often "beginner music". What is beginner music and how does that affect teaching?

Dancing to 28 to 32 bpm is difficult because you have to superficially keep up momentum. Thinking of simplifying as slowing it down to those tempos is adding new difficulties and if you dance for too long on super slow music when you start, it adds habits that will be tricky to get rid of later.
It is patronizing to assume that beginners can't dance to medium tempos right away and worse - demotivating when they see the cool kids dancing to faster (actually regular) tempos at parties.

Of course we have to simplify stuff, and slowing stuff down to a certain degree makes sense, but stop in reason. Beginner classes with triple steps can be done to 34 bpm as slowest. Rhythm can be taught in easier ways as Groove Walks to beginners at tempos around 38-40 bpm.

Don't create weird new stuff for beginners. Teach them what you dance. Don't dumb down, but simplify!

If you are a teaching DJ you have a special opportunity, you can decide what the people on the dancefloor can dance to, - because you teach them. So when you play slow music - play it because you want to dance to it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Jazz Song Alphabet by DJ Maria

Lovely how this is still alive! Sunday I got a message from DJ Maria from Athens, Greece who sent me her Jazz Song Alphabet. Enjoy her lovely list of juicy songs!

Alreet – Gene Krupa & his Orchestra
Boo Woo – Harry James And The Boogie Woogie Trio
Charleston – Enoch Light & the Charleston City All Stars
Diga Diga Doo – Rex Stewart & the Ellingtonians
Everybody Loves My Baby – Glenn Miller & his Orchestra
Fractious Fingering – Fats Waller
Get Your Boots Laced, Papa – Woody Herman
Hotter than ‘Ell – Fletcher Henderson & his Orchestra
I’d Love to Take Orders from You – Mildred Bailey
Just You, Just Me – Red Norvo & his Orchestra
Krazy Kapers – The Chocolate Dandies
Let’s Misbehave – Irving Aaronson & his Commanders
My Woman – Al Bowlly with Lew Stone and his Monseigneur Band
Nosey Joe – Bull Moose Jackson
Old Man Mose – Louis Armstrong
Perfidia – Benny Goodman & his Orchestra with Helen Forrest
Queen Isabelle – Cab Calloway & his Orchestra
Ring ‘Dem Bells – Duke Ellington & his Orchestra
Splanky – Count Basie & his Orchestra
That’s a Plenty – Louisiana Rhythm Kings
Undecided – Chick Webb & his Orchestra feat. Ella Fitzgerald
Vol Vistu Gaily Star – Tommy Dorsey & Clambake 7
Who stole the lock – Jack Bland & his Rhythmakers
X Y Z – Earl “Fatha” Hines
You’ve Got Me Voodoo’d – Charlie Barnet & his Orchestra
Zig Zag – Casa Loma Orchestra

Want to listen to this compilation? Go here!
Want to see all alphabets? Go here!

If you are a DJ and have an alphabet, send it to me and I'll post it! Keep the alphabets coming!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Momentum - A Good Basis For Creativity

In the beginning stage of becoming a teacher I asked myself what defines me as dancer and back then I concluded that part of it was the creativity bit. I know there have been discussions about the topic and the word, but for me it's like any other discipline - not a magical property some people have and some don't, but rather something that you learn. The following is an excerpt from my creativity class.

There are two main definitions of creativity in psychology today that are accepted: A creative work is when you do something new and on purpose and A creative work is when you do something new and on purpose that is of value to the domain. When I talk about creativity, I always only assume the two attributes the definitions share.

One of the aspects that visually attributes to lindy hop to me is the exchange of energy on a line and thus the momentum that we have to have. Momentum itself can be understood as composed of two elements - a linear and a rotational energy (for simplicity we'll ignore the vertical aspects for right now). Concrete: we can go forward, backward, turn left and right. We can combine the linear and the rotational movement (turn left while going forward etc.) and we can do those movements at different speeds, which makes it scalable. This will make the difference between a turn to the right and the leader's movement of an underarm pass.

A key to creative work to me is to start with something existing and then modify it as opposed to starting from scratch. Changing the energies leaves you, depending abit on how you count, with four options: increasing and decreasing of the linear and rotational energy and the combinations of it. Decreasing an energy might lead to zero energy - no linear but only rotational energy is what we call a spin - or inversed - going forward instead of backword - energy.

You can apply this during or at the end/begining of a move. A nice side effect of this is that resulting movements are fairly easy to integrate into the dancing, because they connect automatically.

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