In our last installment, I railed against elegance and grace in dancing. I would like to revise that statement and say that I was wrong to say such things. I think it's a beautiful thing to see experienced couples gliding over the dance floor, doing these elegant and wonderful dances.
Due to various lasting injuries, I sincerely doubt I will ever be one of those. I remember when I first started dancing, sure these fantastic dancers were doing amazing things and I had no idea how they went about it. But more than that, I felt a inadequate, like no matter how hard I tried, I would never "get it" like they do.
Now, I don't really feel that way anymore, I've worked to learn and be a good lead, and a good dancer, and at least a moderately sociable dance partner.
Somewhere along the way things clicked for me. Everyone has a trigger, something that turns something new into something that you can do without much thought. That balance point of new and awkward to experienced and smooth.
Mine was not surprisingly the music.
Straus and Chopin, I love you chaps, your have some really beautiful music my friends, but frankly you boys are formal. I go dancing to formal occasions and when I do, I want you guys to have top ticket on the band's playlist, because it fits the mood. But if I'm wearing my jeans and t-shirt after a day of working away over my keyboard, I want something that's frankly going to kick my energy level up a notch and wake me the hell up.
I hear this music though and frankly I'm bored. It doesn't fit the attire, the attitude or the mood. It has no energy to sustain the actual dance in the environments people play it in.
But then a DJ at a casual event gets a little creative, tries something newer from a different musical genre.
Sure it's a question of musical taste and style of the event. But I ask which song has more raw energy? The second would be entirely inappropriate at a formal event, and that's ok, because the energy level of those events is supposed to be more of a plateau rather than spikes on the chart. No singular style works for every venue, so why do we keep playing the same old stuff to the same dances, no matter the venue type?
Which are you more likely to hear on a popular radio station? The 2 month old, or 2 year old song, or the one that was popular 50 years ago, or 100 years?
If my Grandparents were waltzing to it, yes I can waltz to it too, because the song isn't going to change. But there is a good chance I've heard it, and it's been played a lot, because hey, good waltzes are hard to come by sometimes, and now I'm bored of it. So you play what you know to be an Oldie and a Goody. But New and Shiny for a casual or even higher energy event is just as good for both challenging the experienced dancers and giving them a bit of variety, to giving the new dancers some familiar ground with a song they are likely to know, enjoy, and predict.
I can recognize a song on the internet (Youtube is an amazing source of finding new dances for me actually), on a radio station in my car, even in the overhead speakers they have in restaurants and I go "Hey, I like this song, it's even a waltz". It's not only something I would listen to if I were not a dancer, but something I could have fun dancing to.
The three main points of Atmosphere, Energy and Familiarity. These are what should define the music for the dances. The dances themselves are just the application of pattern to a song. The music is what determines the type of dance. A formal waltz is formal because of the music, whereas a lets call it a "grunge" waltz is fun and exciting because that energy is pumping and sometimes new moves, or that lack of rigid formality lets some pretty cool mixtures out of the bag.
Neither type is better than the other, but the appropriate response, for any up and coming or current DJ, is to analyze what you want your night to have, and plan your music accordingly.
If you play it, they will dance.