Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How To Empty The Dancefloor

 There is a saying in Germany: "the dance floor proves the dj right" which implies that you can do anything as long as the dance floor stays crowded. At least in swing, I think there are good reasons to occasionally empty the dance floor. Of course the problem is always how to empty the dance floor while keeping the dancers happy. This article is not only about various ways of clearing the dance floor but also how you can use these handy tricks in different locations.

Get A Drink!

At least in Germany, there are a lot of social dancing events in pubs. The classic drama is that the dancers don't purchase beverages but rather refill their bottle in the bathroom with tap water so they can quickly get back onto the floor, making the owners unhappy because they don't earn any money.  This destructive behavior usually pays off quite quickly in the form of organizers' having to search for a new location for their dance event. I have seen this happening all over the place and most of the time I see it repeating itself, despite some local teachers' effort to explain _why_ the dancers need to buy the drinks at the bar, even if it's non-alcoholic.

DJs have the ability to influence this behavior. If you play music that makes people not want to dance all the time, there will be a higher chance that they will post themselves at the bar and order a drink.  However, simply DJ-ing badly will upset the dancers. This creates a dilemma - you want to keep the dancers happy at the same time that you want them to get off the dance floor.  One tactic I've been using to sort out this dilemma is using multiple styles. This is good anyway because of people's varying tastes. E.g. I will play five songs in Fats Waller style with a stride piano sound, then five big band songs, then five New Orleans jazz tunes and repeat. Changing styles will make the dancers more happy all around and it also encourages them to leave the dance floor and have a beer when the music style doesn't fit their taste anymore.  Of course this example picks only three different styles; you should feel free to change those and adapt as the floor requires.

Give Them Some Space To Swingout

Big events live off a large attendance and the crowds are usually workshop participants of a beginner to workshop-advanced level.  However, it is also necessary for these events to attract top dancers, who may not take part in the workshops, because they make for exciting Jack'n' Jills, Strictlies, and shows.  They also help to create an overall inspiring atmosphere - put another way: good advertisement. To attract the level of dancers between the workshop participants and the teachers, the parties will need to give them a chance to dance. A situation that arises quite frequently is that the dance floor is way too packed to dance freely. One way to solve this issue is to empty the dance floor by playing faster tempo songs. This usually clears the floor of the majority of beginners and some intermediates. The advantage is that you keep the advanced dancers happy, because they usually don't mind faster tempos and enjoy finally having room to swingout.  At the same time the beginners and intermediates, because they have someone to watch, return to the dance floor when the tempo drops again with a new inspiration to continue dancing and learning.

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