This rendition of I Got Rhythm may or may not be to your taste – it’s nowhere near my DJing criteria, I honestly find it quite challenging – it’s little…
We’re recently back from a wonderful week at Swing Summit (after five visits, still my favourite dance camp) – and as usual, I did a fair amount of DJing. I promised I’d put a set list up from one of those sessions, and this is it.
This was from the Saturday night, starting around midnight, and I’d say people weren’t in a high-energy mood. Up for dancing, but it wasn’t generally a crazy week, and this night was no exception – so I was playing it a little cautiously, but overall, things went well.
I’m sitting in Frankfurt Airport, chilling out after the wonderful intensity of Chase Festival, and I’m feeling inspired to jot down some thoughts about the allure of swing music. I mean – this music, above all, is the reason I dance… and given just how long I spend dancing to it, collecting it, DJing it, describing it, talking about it – I really ought to be able to tell people what’s so great about it. So here goes.
OK – so yes – there’s a rhythm section… but in the main, this is a two man show between Barney Bigard and his clarinet with Arvell Shaw on bass – and Sid Catlett gently contributing some subtle percussion in the background.
If you’re thinking of DJing, and you’re anything like me, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. What equipment should you use? How does everything plug together? What music should…
I don’t really know why I do these. I think I have a certain awe for the people who can somehow see links between pieces of seemingly incongruous music, and make them work – so it pretty much goes without saying that I should try to do the same thing myself.
Anyway – I’ve always loved the Hudson Delange Orchestra – they played some great songs, including my favourite version of Mr Ghost – but their Definition of Swing has always bugged me, because it does have some amazing swinging sections once it gets going, but the pianist seems determined to remove every ounce of dancing potential the song might have by trying to send a single-note message in Morse Code all the way through. You mileage may vary.
And then I watched Luke Cage (which I highly recommend) – and on came O.D.B’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya – which is obviously a spiritual successor to Definition of Swing.
At our classes, one of the most common questions that newcomers ask is: “What music should we practice to, and where can we get it?”
There’s a whole world of jazz and swing music out there, but for newcomers to the dance, who aren’t yet used to some of the complexities and intricacies of some of the more sophisticated examples, I prefer to use songs of reasonable tempo, with clear uncomplicated rhythms, and which are nicely accessible to everyone. At the same time, I want them to be fun songs, with good energy melodies – they still need to be enjoyable for beginners. Finally, they have to swing. These are for new swing dancers, and in my view, it’s essential that newcomers get a feeling for the music as soon as possible.
Finally, I want these songs to be easy to get – so this will be a very simple article – just a list of songs suitable for basic Lindy Hop practice, with Amazon, iTunes and eMusic links to allow people to get the songs easily. These aren’t necessarily the best, or the most exciting pieces of swing music around, but neither are any of them particularly challenging to dance to.
So without any more preamble, here’s a bunch of songs.