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Backing Up A Dance Instructor

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jive1, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Here's a new one for me.....

    Got an offer to play an event for a Swing Dance company, and I've never backed a dance instructor before. Has anyone done this? If so, any tips, challenges, or advice?

    I figure we gotta be tight on tempo, know the dances, and be ready to start, stop, and repeat tunes as necessary. Anything else?
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I've done some of these, and close friends of mine have done many more. If it's a beginner or intermediate class, expect an extremely narrow tempo window and a desire for the bassist to keep it dead simple.

    OTOH, if it's a Lindy Hop class watch out for flyers.
  3. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    Ouch that would be tough. Not technically, but the amount of attention you'd have to keep to stick with the dance instructor.

    They are probably going to start and stop a lot of times as the students work on a specific step. Think of it as practice I guess, 'cause it's going to feel like it.
  4. and the key word is "Swing", whether your walking four or playing a two beat. Or as you said, rock a billy / Jump Swing / Boogie Woogie / Lindy Hop at some hair raising tempos...
  5. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Just remember, our "1, 2, 3, 4" is their "5, 6, 7, 8". :p
  6. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    The new country band I was in got booked with a country dance instructor enough times that I got used to it. It is fun to drop into a couple bars of 7/4 just to watch the train wreck! :)
  7. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    Isn't that just kinda cruel? I mean at least a little. :smug:

    It would be funny as hell though especially if you and the drummer were locked in for the joke.
  8. I imagine it will be much like playing in a symphony. Just know your part well enough to always keep one eye on the conductor (instructor). That'll free up the other eye to follow all the skantily-clad eye candy that be struttin' it across the dance floor. That reminds me...dress lightly because it'll probably be a bit sweaty in the studio.
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I've done this. Hewing to the correct tempo is vital. Bring a nome. The dance teachers might have a different way of expressing tempos, such as measures per minute instead of beats per minute -- I can't remember, but it won't be hard to figure out. Let them know that you will do whatever they ask.

    Playing 2 beats per measure will probably be beneficial to beginning dancers. They will be taking their tempo cue from the bass, even if they don't realize it, so you have to make it really obvious.

    The good news is that swing dancers can be quite enthusiastic and supportive of live music. Earlier this year I played a swing dance event at the Milwaukee Art Museum that must have had at least 1000 dancers. The band, a quartet plus vocalist, was obscenely loud, and people had a blast.
  10. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    cha cha - allegro

    rhumba -andante

    merengue see cha cha

    waltz 3 [viennese waltz 6/8]

    macarena- moderato

    foxtrot -adagio

    swing/lindy hop- allegro

    tango- larghetto/adagio

    paso doble /bolero--- largo /larghetto

    mambo - presto /prestissimo
  11. ForSix


    Jul 22, 2008
    Tempos in bpm or mpm listed above.
  12. rzpooch


    Nov 14, 2007
    Bonney Lake Wa
    I was in a blues band that played that kind of gig once a month. We played our normal sets. They like 6/8 alot...lol
  13. It probably would help just to ask the client!

    I was in a country/rock band a number of years ago and we got hired for a sort of recital for a line dancing class. It was fun and more like a party then a recital. They just had us play some Top 40 Country hits that had line dances associated with them, so it's really not the same, but it was fun. Since it was a 'recital/party,' we didn't make any stops or anything.

    Also, a local bar that would have free, open to anyone, line dancing classes earlier on a Friday (I think) from something like 7:00-9:00pm. We played there regularly for the 9:00 - 1:00 am normal gig. However, there were a few times that they were running the class while we were setting up, so we'd do a short set of "sound check" songs for the class after they had learned a couple of line dances for songs. It was fun to watch the trainwreck dancing, and there was lots of eye candy! As a single straight guy, the male to female ratio was KILLER, until all the guys started showing up for the regular show... The other one was at a dance studio and was more populated by older folks, but the ratio was still rather skewed.

    Our gigs weren't really structured classes like yours. We just played songs all the way through, no stops. You'll certainly need to know what songs are for what dances. Unlike line dances, which are very song specific, there's probably a slew of songs that you can play for any given dance.

    Good luck, and let the Collectif know how it goes!