The first time I went to Herrang – which all those years ago was pretty much our only way of getting to quality Lindy Hop classes – I found a musical paradise. There was SO MUCH INCREDIBLE MUSIC that I’d never heard the like of before – and I came back home with songs like Jeep Jockey Jump and One O’Clock Jump ricocheting around in my brain. At that time, I had no idea what these songs even were – the word “swing” just suggested some guy called Glenn Miller, and Glenn Miller meant exactly one thing – In the Mood. I’d barely even heard of Count Basie… but I absolutely had to find out more.
Month: July 2018
This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Chase Festival in Heidelberg as head DJ. I’ve had that position at DJam for the last decade, but Chase is a different proposition – a considerably larger event with nearly a thousand attendees, and one of the highest profile Lindy Hop events in Europe, so it was very flattering to be invited to take up such a role.
Part of my job was to prepare music for competitions, which is simultaneously fun and stressful. It’s a huge responsibility – you need to find music which challenges dancers, but brings out the best in them, entertains the audience, preferably without being too obvious and using the same old songs time after time after time. Lindyhopper’s Delight, for example, is an amazing competition tune, but so well-known by now that most experienced dancers could probably hum it backwards. Yes – I will use it, but I try not to rely on songs like that.
And – of course, you need the songs to fit whatever criteria the organisers have requested – plus you you need enough suitable songs for the number of heats and competitors… and crucially, you need a good number in reserve for any last-second changes of mind, and – from past experience – any unforeseen circumstances such as those extra two heats which are suddenly sprung on you without warning, or the two extra spotlight couples we suddenly need to fit into the only-just-long-enough jam song…
Luckily for me, the Chase team are extremely experienced and polished at running these competitions, and I wasn’t caught out by anything like that – but experience has taught me always to prepare well.
What I want to do in this post is to go through the various Chase competitions, and talk about the music I chose, and why I chose it. So without further ado…