[Dixielandjazz] Swing Dancers- was - Youthful Audiences

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed May 26 18:50:07 PDT 2010

> "Larry Walton  - St. Louis" <larrys.bands at charter.net> wrote (polite  
> snip)
> A couple of years ago I was playing at a plaza surrounded by hotels  
> and
> businesses.  We were doing the usual Dixie tunes and a couple of  
> kids around
> 16 or 17 dressed in 1940's style cloths came up and started swing  
> dancing.
> The audience quickly grew to over a 100 watching the kids dance.   
> The kids
> were really good. They danced a half dozen tunes and left - so did the
> audience.  It was really fun while it lasted.  It would almost be  
> worth
> hiring some young kids to dance to get the audience going.

OK Larry, so think outside the box. SWING DANCERS love to dance to  
live music. Play at some swing dances. Get to know the kids. Then  
invite them to your public gigs. THEY WILL SHOW UP IF THE BAND SWINGS.

To find them, google <Swing Dancers in St Louis>. You'll find more  
than a couple of swing dance clubs/teachers

Go back to our myspace page.


Click on  (view my) "Pics" just below the band logo, at lower right.

Then Click on "Swinging Thursdays".

See the swing dancers. About 20 showed up to this street festival in  
West Chester PA on a Thursday evening last summer. And a crowd of  
other folks stayed to watch.

If a Dixieland band swings, the dancers will follow you. Simple as that.

And like you say, it might be a good idea to hire a couple, or better  
yet, get them gigs by marketing your band as also providing swing  
dancers. Not difficult to do. I've gotten several paying gigs for my  
swing dancer friends. $100 is gratefully accepted as their usual fee.

BTW, forget hard and fast rules about tempo, high speed solos, or song  
choices. The more experienced kids who charleston love a high speed  
challenge of 200 beats per minute or faster. For a 2007 example to  
Tiger Rag, see:


Check out the other you tubes on that site. Oh my God, they're dancing  
to Dixieland, played by an old fart band just like ours and others on  
the DJML

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyvnn8WRTQY&feature=related

Like high speed tempo? So do some dancers. See:


It is a good idea not to allow one's personal prejudices influence  
things like song choices, solos, tempo etc. Let the DANCERS or  
AUDIENCE dictate what you should be playing and how fast. Saxophonist  
Dave Liebman loves to tell about when he was working with Miles Davis  
in front of enormous crowds. Miles insisted that he play many notes  
during solos because the audience "likes to see you fingers move  
fast."  That is very true with general audiences for almost any kind  
of music today.

In my previous post I spoke about high school free dancing to our  
music. It was not too different from the you tubes above, in energy  
though they were not as experienced as these kids are in the nuances.  

Bottom line? If interested, bands might well do the research in their  
own areas about what it is the swing dancers, or young audiences want.  
Start with their desire to be involved. They are not passive  
listeners, they want to be a part of the program.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list