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May 29, 2008


To speak up or not?

As a follow-up to my own brief remarks about a DJ’s thinking process in selecting the right music during a milonga, I will add further if a DJ isn’t playing songs that he/she can personally relate to, it will be difficult to maintain the energy on the dance floor.

On the other hand, I am quite sure that all of us at some stage has experienced music from DJs that we find “disagreeable”, to put it mildly? Mind you, here I don’t mean just a tanda or two, but for the bulk of the night!

Firstly, I’d like to be a little bit “politically correct” 🙂 by saying that, as a DJ, I do like to receive feedback. Such comments, naturally, can be both positive or negative as you can easily imagine. However, while fully retaining a DJ’s right to self-expression, I will consciously place more emphasis on remarks from the more seasoned dancers, i.e. the ones who observe the codes of milonga and have a better affinity with Golden Age music that I play predominantly. If this sounds a bit like self-selection, well, it is quite true. However, granted that there will always be differences in individual tastes, e.g. melodic versus more rhythmic pieces, etc., my aim is to try to always play solid, danceable tunes with the very occasional alternative tanda for variety. I fully subscribe to the following statement on Stephen Brown’s website:

“If the DJ plays music that has clear dance rhythms and inspires the dancers, they are more likely to move with energy and with a connection to the rhythm of the music.”

Anyway, back to the point of this entry. Last year, Isaac suffered through a night of music he simply could not stand, and I was there to witness it. Apart from some not-so-subtle hints with body language, nothing was relayed to the DJ of the night.

What can we do in this situation?

Can we simply stomp off into the sunset, never to revisit the same milonga? Well, in places like Buenos Aires, this is a very real option. However, in Singapore where the choices are more limited – like, one place on any night!? – is this still feasible? My personal feeling is that, for small communities like Singapore, it is much better for the DJ to listen and try to understand the frustrations of dancers, should they arise.

Any other suggestions?

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  1. May 29 2008

    In my town, we speak up. We either go up to the DJ and express our discontent or we just don’t go to the milongas with the bad DJ’ing – either way, we make our feelings perfectly clear. DJs’ jobs are to play the music that would please the audience and get them dancing. If they fail, they will lose their audience and money. You would be doing them a favour by speaking up. Or you could keep quiet and be miserable.

  2. Jun 3 2008

    Dear Caroline,

    Thanks for the advice. I will be sure to let the offending DJ know the next time!

  3. Aug 16 2008

    If dancers stay off the floor, the DJ will get the message.

    Daniel Borelli is the finest deejay in Buenos Aires. He’s not a dancer, but he is a professional who knows what to play for dancers, especially the milongueros. I can go where he deejays for three or four nights in the same week and I’ll always hear different tandas that are danceable. I suggest you spend a week following him where he works and making notes on his playlists to help your hometown DJs.

  4. Aug 18 2008

    Dear Janis,

    It’s a bit difficult to follow your suggestion about following Daniel Borelli since I am in Singapore right now. However, I’ll be sure to ask friends who are already in Buenos Aires to check him out!


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