Tag Archives: East Coast Swing

Where did all the Collegiate Shag music go?

When I first started publishing lists of swing music on the music4dance site, I grouped all of the swing style dances together and then used tempo ranges to guess at specific dance styles.  This method works reasonably well for some of the core swing dances such as Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, and Jive.

But a helpful Carolina Shag DJ contacted me to let me know that this method did not work at all for Carolina Shag since the dance ancestor might be swing, but the music that one typically dances to doesn’t even have a swing rhythm.  And of course, both Hustle and West Coast Swing are very much part of the swing family of dances but don’t require a swing rhythm to dance to.  So I went back and made the default searches only return songs that someone had explicitly tagged as a type of swing rather than inferring anything from general category and tempo.

Since the only exposure I had to Collegiate Shag was a reference that it was a swing style dance to music between 180-200 beats per minute when I turned off the “infer by tempo” feature,  I stopped listing any Collegiate Shag songs.  Well, that seemed wrong, so I did some digging around the web and found a few lists of Collegiate Shag songs and incorporated them into the music4dance catalog.

Do you dance or DJ Collegiate Shag?  Please, let me know if there are other songs that I should add to this list.

Share Your Favorite Searches

Have you found a particularly useful or exciting way to search for music on the music4dance site?  Just for instance, were you choreographing a swing-cha combo and constructed a search for songs that can be danced to both East Coast Swing and Cha Cha and that are not categorized as Latin Music?  Or did you perhaps want to see a list of songs that could be danced to Cha Cha, Bachata, or Rumba but that are specifically 120 beats per minute?

You can do both of those pretty easily by using the Advanced Search page.  And then you can get back to your own searches by using the My Searches page.  But what if you want to share that cool list of songs with someone else?  You can do exactly what I’ve been doing here – do the search and then copy the link from the address bar in your browser.  That is a perma-link to the search that you just did and can be shared with anyone, anywhere.

As a bonus, if you’ve created an account, the searches that you share with your friends can include your likes and dislikes.  For instance, you can share a list of all Cha Cha songs that you have “liked”.  Or if you have a search you are particularly fond of but one of the songs just doesn’t work for you, you can unlike that song and then when you or your friends look at the list using the link you built you won’t see that song, and neither will your friends.

Feel free to share your favorite or most interesting searches here.  If enough people do that, we can add a new section for interesting searches to the site.

If you like to dance Cha-Cha to a song does that mean you “like” that song?

One of the first things that I wanted to do with the music4dance project was to build a system where dancers could vote on whether a song worked for a particular dance style.  That morphed into something more like “do you like to dance style x to song y.”  Which still seemed like a pretty reasonable system.  And I started using heart symbols to show like/indifferent/don’t like for the dance style entries on each song.

But then Amanda (the music4dance intern) pointed out that there wasn’t any way to actually say that you liked or disliked a song.  So we implemented a top-level like/indifferent/don’t like for each song and I used the same heart symbols. But then things got confusing, since you could vote to like to dance a particular style to a song as well as make a song as something that you like.

I still think that there is a value in both of these attributes.  For me the overriding value of the like/dislike a song is to be able to dislike a song and not have to see it again.  Especially for a song that I may have particular bad associations with – a song that was massively overplayed in a dance studio, for instance.  These are particularly troublesome as they are probably overplayed because they are well suited to a particular dance style, so I certainly don’t want to exclude them from other people’s searches by voting them down for matching that dance style.

In any case, this came to a head while I was implementing the quick voting mechanisms where you can like/dislike a song anytime you see it in a list – any kind of search results or dance style details pages.  Once I got that feature in, I saw that it was so much easier to like/dislike a song than it was to vote on whether you find a song dance-able to a particular style.  And that made me sad, since I think the dance-able vote is much more interesting (and also why you would be looking at a site like this rather than a purely music rating/referral site).

dance-vote

So I added in the voting link to the songs in any list where there is a single dance being listed.  This includes the dance style pages as well as any searches where you choose just one dance to search on (like for instance, this list of all of our East Coast Swing songs).  And while I was doing that, I started using the shoe symbol rather than the heart symbol for voting which helps with the ambiguity.

Well this all works, and I’m reasonably happy with the results.  But I’m not sure I’ve minimized the number of clicks that you would use on average.  Should I assume that you like a song if you vote it up as a good Cha-Cha – you could still explicitly dislike it for those cases where you actually don’t like the song even if you agree that it’s a particularly good song to dance the Cha-Cha to.

Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think.  Go to your favorite dance page (find them here) and try both voting on the songs as dance-able to that dance (by clicking the shoe icon) and liking/disliking them as songs (by clicking the heart icon) and let me know what you think.  Feedback is always welcome via the music4dance feedback form or our company email info@music4dance.net.

 

What if I want to build a list of songs that are tagged as either Bolero or Rumba?

There are a bunch of different reasons that you might want to build lists of songs that are more sophisticated than just the songs that can be danced to a specific style.  For instance you may be choreographing a piece that you want to switch between Cha Cha and East Coast Swing.  Or you might want to get a more comprehensive list of songs that are in the Bolero/Rumba range so you want everything that’s tagged with either of those dance styles.  Or, you’re like me and just want to see what dances people have tagged as both Waltz and Foxtrot (two apparently contradictory labels – more on that in a future post).

I’ve just added a feature that enables all of those scenarios.  The documentation is here, but let me break a couple of the scenarios down into specifics.

First, let’s say you’re looking for a song to choreograph a mixed East Coast Swing/Cha Cha routine to. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the song list page by clicking on Music -> Songs in the menu at the top of the music4dance.net website.
  2. Click on the “more” button near the top of the page
  3. Click on the “any” button that appears and choose “all”
  4. Click in the text box that says “Choose some dance styles…” and start typing “East Coast Swing”, after the first letter or two you should be able to choose from a list.  Do the same with Cha Cha
  5. Click on the search (magnifier) button and you should see a list of songs all of which are tagged with both East Coast Swing and Cha Cha

Next, let’s take a look at finding a mixed list of songs.  For example, if we want to find all songs that are labeled as either Rumba or Bolero, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the song list page by clicking on Music -> Songs in the menu at the top of the music4dance.net website.
  2. Click on the “more” button near the top of the page
  3. Make sure that the “any” button that next to the “Dance to” label reads “any.”  If it reads “all” then click to choose “any.”
  4. Click in the text box that says “Choose some dance styles…” and start typing “Bolero”, after the first letter or two you should be able to choose from a list.  Do the same with Rumba
  5. Click on the search (magnifier) button and you should see a list of songs all of which are tagged with both East Coast Swing and Cha Cha

I hope this is useful to you.  If there are combinations of dances that you find particularly useful, please let me know by commenting.  Similarly, if there are combinations that you can’t manage with the current implementation please comment and I’ll look at extending this capability even more.

Question 2: What dance styles can I dance to my favorite song(s)?

Again, I rephrased the question from my original post.

One of the things that amazes me about the best dance teachers I know is that they seem to do this matching instinctively.  They hear the first bar or two of a song and immediately know which dance(s) to dance.  I imagine “instinct” in this case is some combination of natural talent, many hours of practice and the amount of time that they spend listening to music and thinking about how it fits with dance.

After dancing for 20 years, I have something of this sense myself, but being a techie first and a dancer second I feel compelled to break it down a bit more.

There are two sub-questions here; let’s call them 2a and 2b.

Question 2a: “Does the style of music match the style of dance?” This is very much about the general feel of the music – so salsa music sounds like music that you would want to salsa to and swing music sounds like music that you would want to swing to.  But it’s also about the rhythm.  The most straightforward example of this is Waltz, where the three-count rhythm is very distinctive.  Conveniently, every partner dance that you can dance to three-count rhythm has waltz in its name.  There are more subtle variations on this concept: Cha Cha music has a distinct “4 and 1 (or cha cha cha)” emphasis that makes it feel like a cha cha, mambo music sounds a lot like salsa, but with emphasis on the second beat, and there is something called “Swing Rhythm” that distinguishes swing music from other kinds of music. And the list goes on.  I don’t have a great idea for a tool to help with this, but I’m considering writing a more in-depth series on how this relationship works.  So if you’re interested please let me know and I’ll move that up my to-do list.

Question 2b: “Does the tempo (speed) of the music work for the dance?”   Swing is a great example since there are a whole bunch of different dances that can be danced to music that is in the swing style, but they are each danced at  a different tempo.  For example, West Coast Swing is best danced between 28 and 32 measures per minute (MPM), East Coast Swing between 34 and 36 MPM and Jive between 38 and 44 MPM.  I’m building a web application  that at least partially solves this problem.

Snapshot of Counter page on August 13th 2014
Snapshot of Counter page on August 13th, 2014

With this app. you can count out a few measures by clicking the count button on the first beat of each measure and it will not only show you what the tempo is, but also suggest a number of dances that will “work” for this tempo.  Pretty slick, no?  What would you add to this to make it more useful?

The Two Questions that Inspired Music4Dance

As a beginning ballroom dancer there were two questions that kept coming up:

  1. What are some songs that I could play to practice the dance that I’m currently learning?
  2. Which dance style(s) can I dance to this song that I’m currently listening to? For instance, would this work for a Cha Cha or an East Coast Swing?

The dances page on the site is the beginning of an answer to question #1.

Snapshot of the Dances page from music4dance.net (August 6th, 2014)
Snapshot of the Dances page from music4dance.net (August 6th, 2014)

And the counter page is the beginning of an answer to question #2.

Snapshot of the Dances Counter page from music4dance.net (August 6th, 2014)
Snapshot of the Dances Counter page from music4dance.net (August 6th, 2014)

 

Which of these questions is most important to you? Or what other questions are more important to you?

If you’re a dancer or teacher, what are the questions you ask?