July 11, 2009

Top 20 Balboa Songs Of All Time

An 11 year study of balboa music has just concluded and the Top 20 balboa songs of all time have been determined. The study, conducted by the Music department at MIT in conjunction with the BioInformatics group at Oxford University, has been a long time coming. For years, the debates have raged on. Finally, we can put an end to all the bloodshed.

And if you believe that non-sense, I have some beach front property in Kansas I’d like to sell you.
So what is this list exactly? Every year at All Balboa Weekend I give a talk. The first few years the talks revolved around the history of swing music. Pertaining mostly to entertaining stories and anecdotes, I would give presentations that included video and photos of the great swing musicians of the big band era; Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Django Reinhardt and the like.

This year, I wanted to do something different, shake things up a bit, and thus the Top 20 idea was born. This list, not complete by any means, is a list of great balboa songs, songs that I personally love to dance balboa to. Casa Loma Stomp, has amazing sound quality for the tempo that it clocks in at (336bpm). Sweet Georgia Brown by Benny Goodman, one word: vibes. Jamaica Jam by Teddy Powell is an excellent song for hearing the “shuffle shuffle hold shuffle” rhythm in balboa.

Now, keep in mind, this isn’t a list that should be considered mandatory for all balboa events. If you look at #2, you might ask “That’s a balboa song?”. This is my top 20 list of balboa songs, and being that I’ve been DJing balboa for years, I have a love and a passion for the music, and I think these songs are the best of the best.

I’ve included the song title and artist, but not not the album name, nor a link to a website where you can find the song. I don’t want you to just go out and blindly buy a CD, or pick up some random song on iTunes, so I’ve given you artist and song title, but after that, it’s up to you. Because, in your search who knows what great versions you might find.

If you would like to hear the entire talk, pick up an ABW 2009 dvd and you can get the inside scoop on all 20 songs.

Without further ado, my Top 20 Balboa picks of all time:

  1. Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho SidneyBechet
  2. Rockin In Rhythm Duke Ellington
  3. Casa Loma Stomp Casa Loma Orchestra
  4. Lafayette Hot Lips Page
  5. Troubled Frankie Traumbauer
  6. Minor Swing Django Reinhardt
  7. Harlem Jump Jack Teagarden
  8. Dark Eyes Jonathan Stout
  9. Chimes At The Meeting Willie Bryant
  10. Honeysuckle Rose Mora’s Modern Rhythmists
  11. Special Delivery Stomp Artie Shaw
  12. Caprice Paganini XXVI Benny Goodman
  13. Carioca Artie Shaw
  14. Sweet Georgia Brown Benny Goodman
  15. Swingin In The Promised Land Edgar Hayes
  16. Rigamarole Willie Bryant
  17. Jamaica Jam Teddy Powell
  18. Ochi Chornya Wingy Manone
  19. St. Louis Blues Benny Goodman
  20. Jumpin At The Woodside Count Basie


  1. Mendoza

    Hello, I think there ´s an error; it´s not “Caprice Paganini XXVI”, it´s XXIV. THank you for posting!

  2. Nelleene Boothby

    All of a sudden, people are telling me that people routinely danced Balboa to Dixieland jazz and Ragtime. It’s news to me and that music seems out of sync with Balboa. So I’m curious about what you think.

    • I think its a bit out of sync. If the rhythm is 1,3 then yes, but if its 2/2 or 4/4 i’m all for it. I enjoy classic big band swing music to dance to, but loathe the idea that Big Band swing is the only thing you can balboa to. Don’t get me wrong, i am not promoting balboa to country, hip hop, even some new testament basie. But I like dancing to Big Band, small combo, SOME trad jazz.

      Ill have to try ragtime, dont think I have danced to that yet

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