August 28, 2014

That Song, This Person, Part 1

It’s story time folks….

While a lot of dancers have specific songs that bring up fond memories of an event, a dance partner, or even a specific dance move, I have the pleasure of having songs that I play and bring up fond memories of my friends and dancers all around the world. Whether it be a funny reference, a song request, or a memorable dance in front of the DJ booth, I have had several opportunities to spy greatness or catch a laugh.

***This list is not meant to imply song favorites, this is not meant to imply that you (as a DJ) should play these songs for these people every time they come to town. This is a personal note/memory/association I have with these songs and friends. I don’t ALWAYS play these songs when I see these people.  Let’s just make that clear.

Ring Dem Bells (Lionel Hampton) – Jason Swihart

Jason is a huge Lionel Hampton fan (even his dog is named Hamp), and avid balboa dancer. While there are plenty of great tracks by Hampton that one can bal or lindy hop to, for some strange reason, I find myself not playing many of them /ducks. Not because the songs are bad or anything, but just random happenstance – with this one exception. Anytime I see Jason at a bal event, I can’t wait for the opportunity to play Ring Dem Bells, and watch him tear it up! It’s like no matter what Jason is doing, if I want to watch him dance, I just play Ring Dem Bells, and he is finding his way to the floor.

Comes Love (any artist) – DJ Cupcake, Laura Windley

This one, I have no clue how it got started. I’m not sure if it was Laura singing the tune somewhere, or maybe she DJ’d a version that I liked, or vice versa, either way, it has become my personal endeavor of mine, whenever Laura is in the building, play a some version of the tune (Jack Teagarden is my current favorite) and see if she notices. The best part is the moment when Laura spys the song, turns and looks at me smiling and starts laughing that Laura Windley laugh.  awesomesauce!

Rigamarole (Mora’s Modern Rhythmists) – Joel Plys

While most associations are, let’s say, happy; this one, might, just might, be more on the snarky/painful side. Flash back several years…Joel was a member of the Rhythm Rollers (balboa performance group from LA). Of course, due to the nature of dance troupes, Joel was practicing endlessly, perfecting the choreography; all the while listening to the same song over and over and over again. In this case it was Rigamarole. Simultaneously, Joel entered the strictly competition at ABW, made it to the finals, where he had to spotlight. Much to his unfortunate surprise, the random music generator selected Rigamarole as his spotlight song.  For anyone who has been in a performance troope or done a routine with a pre-planned song, you know what HELL it would be to get that song in a competition. It’s not like Joel could have just done the routine for his spotlight (although, in hindsight that would have been awesome!)

White Heat (Jimmie Lunceford) – Willie Desatoff

It’s no secret that balboa great Willie Desatoff loved White Heat as his favorite fast number and Moonglow as his favorite slow number. So when Willie passed in 2005, I had the distinct honor of playing White Heat at his funeral. A moment I will cherish forever.

Ride Red Ride (unknown, still) – Randy Maestretti

Ever since I met Randy at a bar in El Paso, Texas back in the late ’70s, Randy has been obsessed with Ride Red Ride. I remember him saying “Hey Kyle, can you play Ride Red Ride?” and, I would be all, like, “sure Randy, I can play it.” However, the funny part is, I don’t think I have ever played the “correct” version of Ride Red Ride for Randy….ever!  I came close, I think, back at ABW for the All Ball Bal contest, but I don’t recall. Recently Shani Brown has tried to help me find Randy’s version, but, alas, to no avail.  Hopefully, one day, I will find this elusive version, because almost every time I see him, he asks “Are you going to play Ride Red Ride, the correct version?” Help me Randy-Wan-Kenobi, you’re my only hope.

Cherokee (Charlie Barnett) – David Rehm

Somewhat of an anthem of balboa, at least in the early renaissance, Cherokee is an amazing song to get your balboa on. Not too fast, not too slow….Just…Right!  A world travelling dancer, David is exposed to innumerable, amazing and sometimes, not so amazing songs. But for some reason, when I see David chillin’ on the side of the floor, and I want him get his balboa on, I throw on Cherokee. Done and done. Such a great tempo to see an expert do his thing. Despite the number of times he has to have heard that song, I feel like there is always something new in his dance when I see him on the floor.

Chimes At The Meeting (Willie Bryant) – Bobby White

I can’t recall the actual story, but I feel it went something like this.  I am playing an event like, ABW, I put on Chimes, Bobby screams with joy and happyness.  I gasp.  Some next event, I put on Chimes, Bobby shrieks like a school girl, I smile. And repeat said story a whole bunch more times at a whole bunch more events. So, while that may be a not-so-accurate retelling of actual events, to me it captures the feeling I felt from Bobby, and get from him every time I put on the song. Even now, potentially 7 years since I first met Bobby, he jumps up with glee and takes anyone who will dance with him, onto the floor and tears that song a new one.  Love those moments!

Business In F (Gene Kardos) – DJ Blueberry, Nelle Cherry

Once again, the years escape me, but it was definitely at ABW. The scene plays out like this:  Nelle and Adam Speen make it to the finals, they get Business In F, jam the shit out of the song.  Some next event, they make it to the finals, and once again get Business In F, and jam the shit out of the song…again! Getting the same song twice for your spotlight would make a song memorable (Todd and Mia, Swingtime In the Rockies two years in a row @ABW) but it the enthusiasm to which Nelle brings when that song comes on that makes it memorable. Singing along, belly bumping, and general raucous ensure that I will always think of her when that song comes on.  And if I am correct, I heard that Nelle and Adam danced to that song at Adam and Abba’s wedding 😀  Oh, and sorry about the double play, that damn random song generator can be a cruel mistress.

Caprice Paganinni XXIV (Benny Goodman) – DJ Marmalade, Kate Hedin

The first time I played this song was at an ABW, Kate immediately ran over and started talking to me about how this was a viola thingy, from this famous dead dude guy, who played it, it was old and shizz, and there are like 100 of them that she had to do upside down, underwater in order to become a ninja assassin. (lolwutbbqroflcoptr) Sure, those details might not be 100% accurate, but the idea is the same. Kate is an accomplished viola player (violist? violista? violninja?) and going into great detail about something that crosses swing passions with external passions leaves an indelible mark on me (so much so, that I can’t remember anything about it….lol…I was working? /snort). So once I understood what she was talking about (I’m a bit slow), the correlation between classical and swing is ridiculously cool. The exciting part is when I find new versions of that song and hope that she hasn’t heard them!

Major Swing – Tise Chao

So, we all know Minor Swing by Django. Well, there was this guy who took that song, and a few others (The Doors, REM), and digitally transformed them into the major key. While most people throw tomatoes at me, or look sternly in my general direction (Mr. Stout and his Campus Everyone), Tise is always there for me, encouraging me to play the song, despite those grumblings. And upon performing such behavior she proceeds to laugh hysterically at the aftermath of playing said song. Personally, I think the song is cool, and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Everyone else however, cringes and says it sounds like nails on a chalk board.  I just don’t see it. Nevertheless, if I am thinking of playing it, all I need is Tise in the room and I know that at least 2 people who will enjoy it (or enjoy the fact I am playing it). Thanks Tise for the lols.

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Music and Dance