Saturday, January 30, 2016

Da Spin Doc

by Professor Bob, from Blogging Hawaii 2 years ago.

I read with interest your blog on "Recorded or Live Music?" As we frequently point out, if it wasn't for live musicians DJs would have nothing to play. So please support live music and live musicians. Having said that...

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least
once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."

Even a small band has three or four members. An average local band usually gets around $800 for a normal three hours gig. Some get much more, some less. So, any money must be split amongst the performers. Usually, DJs are a solo act. With a few exceptions, DJs frequently get paid a little less than a live band. But, DJs don't have to split the gig money. Instead, DJs must buy, update, and maintain their music library which is a daunting investment.

Regarding the "ambience" of live bands, it is true that some DJs are not visually very interesting or exciting. But, that is also true of some live bands. Some bands react and interact with their audience. Other bands play music and whole sets the same way they rehearsed and in the same order every appearance, as if there was no audience present at all. Some shy musicians never even make eye contact with the audience.

"Play it again, Sam" Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. 

Long breaks are common for live bands, but good club DJs strive to never stop the music over four hours. In contrast, at a three hour club gig live musicians sometimes end up actually playing for far less than two and a half hours. After three or four 10 to fifteen minutes breaks every hour, some dance audiences feel cheated. Club DJs attempt to edit and segue the music by matching beats so that over four hours there is no apparent break at all. If the music is blended properly one cannot tell when one song ends and another begins. DJs don't want to take a chance that anyone will leave the dance floor during "dead air," and thus tarnish their "always fill the floor" reputation.

So far the answer to "live music or DJ?" seems to be a wash. If you've got double the money, usually a live band is preferred by most folks, if only for visual interest. So, let's get to the music! Most bands specialize in a particular genre' of music, be it oldies, swing, Latin, Hawaiian, Jawaiian, country, rap & hip hop... whatever. A few talented "cross-over" bands can play more than one genre'. But no band can play all music genre's. However, DJs must, can, and do play all music genre's! Sometimes the evolutionary decision on what musical genre' a band eventually specializes in is based on what will sell the most bookings, rather than what a specific (and therefore limited) audience wants to hear. A little of this and a little of that.

"Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho

That's why there are DJs! DJs can play any and all music, from and for any generation, at any time, for any purpose, for any audience, anywhere! A DJs variety, lower cost, and maximum flexibility versus a live band's visual interest or appeal, personality, and audience interaction seems to slightly tip the scale toward live bands. But, not so fast, think it over and do as you wish.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dancing to Live Music?

There are two curious paradoxical facts about dancing. One is that, real dancing feels great even if it looks rather ordinary to an onlooker. The other is curiously that the better it looks then the better it feels. This latter fact is why couples enter DanceSport competitions, to give themselves the incentive to make their dancing look good. It does not have to be for showing off. It may enhance their feelings, before, during and even after the dance. And these are some of the most wonderful things about dancing.

"Dance like it's the last night of the world."

"Rags To Riches" by Tony Bennett

The movements of each dance are broken down, for teaching, into named figures, each consisting of a few actual steps. For example a figure called the "Reverse Turn" exists in different forms in many dances, and usually has 6 steps. Roughly 200 figures exist for each of the Ballroom and Latin dances, and each figure takes about an hour of instruction and practice to master. For social dancing, learning a dozen or so basic figures in each dance is sufficient,

"I Can't Get Started" by Bunny Berigan

Most syllabi were made up by profession teachers using the steps that they were more acquainted with, instead of teaching movements. The most basic of course is the walking step, left, right, left, right etc. It is used in two count, three count and four count measures. The lead may go forward, backward and to the right or left sides. A very obvious variation is the "promenade" in which the partners can get side by side and walk forward together. Street dancers are the ones that learn to use these movements very well in dancing to any kind of music.

"At Last" by Glenn Miller with Ray Eberly on vocals.

The most famous walking step is the American Waltz. Just left, right, left, 1, 2, 3. Then right, left, right, for another 1,2,3. But it should be obvious that dancers can do all of these wonderful things in hundreds of different movements. And most are just walking steps. The Viennese Waltz is somewhat different, naturally. The Latin version is danced with a chassé basic.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Night Club Dancing

Most of the Night Clubs on Oahu and the neighbors islands too, have live music playing many Latin tunes with a nice Latin flavor. The solid Latin dances in Hawaii consist of the Samba, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Merengue, Mambo, Salsa and lately Bachata. They generally have sinuous hip movements that are synchronized with the half beats between the steps. Indeed, the dances are generally non-progressive, and the whole emphasis is on the feel of the hip movements rather on the steps themselves.

"Our duty as dancers could be to encourage every one in their struggle
to live up to their own highest ideal, and strive at the same time
to make it as near as possible to the Truth."

"Abrazame" por Alejandro Fernandez

The syncopated action takes some practice to accomplish, and is a considerable challenge for people with a European or Asiatic background. But there are many that learn to do a terrific Latin dance. Needless to say, it is very good exercise for the lower back and tummy muscles. For two people to move together, it is necessary for both to agree on a vocabulary of movements. This requires some discipline and practice, both of which often appear to be anathemas to the younger generation on Oahu, who think that if it doesn't happen now with no effort, then it is not worthy of thought.

"Adoro" por Armando Manzanero

However attending weekly dance classes at a local dance studio or club on Oahu, soon converts the four left feet of you and your partner into a coordinated locomotion machine, and you can both start thinking about matching the character of your movements to the mood of the music. You will enjoy dancing anywhere, anytime, whether it is recorded music or live music.

"We do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to
be than a good dancer. For the dance could be his ideal."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cultural Dancing

By Harold Lively, Enchanted Lake

There are many on Oahu who think that wriggling like a frightened worm is dancing, others know that holding your partner and moving together can be quite blissful, and that perhaps it is real dancing. Not only is real partner dancing a pleasure, it also is very good for one's general fitness. One may choose dances through an evening that are of a speed and duration that accommodate one's own fitness level, and keep all the joints moving that otherwise are inclined to seize up somewhat in older folk.

"Of course we should think it is healthy to speak the truth,
but we must be who we are, and be proud of that"

This kind of dancing comes in two main styles on Oahu. American and International and there is a Night Club style based on the American style of dance. The specialties also have their own rules. Tango, Salsa, Country and Line Dancing. These are all done to music of various tempos and rhythms. Every different dance has its own character, such as the seductive Rumba, the cheerful Cha Cha Cha, and the romantic Waltz.

"Riders On The Storm" by the Doors

The American and the International are considered disciplines and for a reason. They have a set of strict rules which with good reason are used in judging the competitions. The dances can and are grouped by the social dancers into the American and British, such as the Waltzes (fast and slow), the Slow Foxtrot and the Quickstep. and may include the Paso Doble as being European. These have evolved over several hundred years from the dancing done originally in the royal courts of Europe, and still to this day have a regal upright deportment. These dances progress around the room counterclockwise.

"Dancers may say that in dancing we can make a world where we can think, things are done morally, done democratically, done honestly." 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Live Music or DJs

What do we know? by Jesse Acuna, Liliha

Dark, raw, sophisticated and sexy is the live music in the Night Clubs of  Oahu. They capture the essence of the original loved music perfectly without presenting their selves as just a carbon copy. Part intimate live music venue, part high-end nightclub, the local clubs use their space well to showcase both established and emerging musicians. It’s their music that has grabbed the dancer's attention.

“She says he says, but she could be lying to me, and he could be lying
to her, so I can’t believe her, even if I could believe her.”

The clubs have approached the subject of looking for and hiring entertainment regularly and it has been a hot topic at our present Nightclub establishments. The subject of music and volume has come up often and the general theory of the "oldies but goodies" has now been very well established on Oahu. Also the increase acceptance of Latin Dance and Music. While we haven’t yet really written about it, part of the pushback from bar and club owners when it comes to paying top dollar for DJs is the prevalence of prerecorded sets.

"At Last" by Ray Eberly with Glenn Miller

This criticism isn’t limited to just operators, either. Plenty of night clubbers, VIPs and even DJs themselves have a problem with high-priced acts (which usually lead to inflated cover, table and other charges.) They show up with a laptop or memory stick, plug it  in, and essentially pantomiming a party before collecting a hefty paycheck.

"Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho

The question many owners, guests and other DJs seem to be asking is, “What are they being paid for?” Is just showing up to the venue a live performance? Is actually mixing songs together in the moment a live performance? They are even those who ask, “If the crowd doesn’t care, does it matter?” The club owners have gradually  come up with an answer to these questions with their changing agendas and there will be more changes.

Not only is an evening dedicated to DJ sets unique in today’s laptop-driven EDM world, it offers owners, operators, managers and promoters a way to stand out from other venues. Such a concept can also save dollars, attracting up-and-coming local turntablists looking for exposure. Venues can ensure entertainers aren’t cheating the guests out of a live experience by limiting and controlling the equipment available, generating credibility and a healthy dose of authenticity. This type of promotion can also reinvigorate slow nights and even reenergize an often too easily bored and unimpressed Oahu dance crowd. In this case, the old is definitely once again new.

  “For we have trained ourselves as social dancers and we are training ourselves always to be able to dance lightly in the service of thought” 


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Japanese Ballroom Dancing

Japan Ballroom Dance Federation (JBDF) was established in 1992 as a public service corporation under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Education (now Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology).

"All Art may not be truth. Art could be a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand."

Ballroom dancing has been enjoyed by many people in Japan both as a competition sport and as a hobby, but due to a shift in the social structure such as the aging society and the increased leisure time, it has become the demand of this time and place to promote ballroom dancing and they are doing so.

"I believe" by Frankie Lane

In the Western culture, ballroom dancing is a part of the daily life and Japan is also a major dance-loving country who holds several million amateurs. Ballroom dancing links a person to a person, a heart to a heart. JBDF is striving to popularize ballroom dancing in Japan for the sake of a rich and wholesome 21st century and moving to the music of their choice.

"Half As Much" by Rosemary Clooney 

The ballroom dance industry was helped immeasurably by 1995 film Shall We Dance?," which was seen by more than 2 million people, a large number for a Japanese-produced film. Schools reported a 20% increase in attendance after the film came out. And it has come to be predominantly the International style of dance.

"Here In My Heart" by Al Martino

Explaining the appeal of ballroom dancing,  "Since the 1980s, Japanese have learned that having lots of things—supported by a strong economy—does not make their art or life particularly rich. That is why more people are now being drawn to dance, the simplest form of art, which you create with your body and nothing else."

Many ballroom dancing fans compete in competitions in which they dress in evening wear and swirl around a parquet dance floor with numbers pined to their backs. And yet, despite the popularity of ballroom dancing, parties and wedding rarely featured dancing. People usually ate, drank and sang karaoke. Now they are beginning to dance at social parties and American Style is creeping in.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Night Clubbers Welcome

There does not seem to be much information about our good night clubs on Oahu except for advertising. The readers want to know where of course, but what happened at the shindig is even more important. A couple photos and a short summary of the event would go over very nicely. So there it is, for some very good information contributors that are out there. Share it with your fellow dancers, right here in this blog and make everyone happy.

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains,
no matter  how improbable, must be the truth."

"Contigo Aprendi" por Luis Miguel

Then we have the Live Music aficionados. And we are lucky that we have so many good musicians on all the Islands. Some even go so far as to say we have the best in the Pacific. OK by me. Then when it comes to dancing, one musician is not so good. But too many and the cost zooms. A good drinking lounge becomes a night club with the addition of a dance floor. Simple? And dancing is the name of our game, Fortunately we have many good night club dancers on this island.

"Every Time We Say Goodbye" by Jimmy Borges

We also have a great diversity in our dancing and it applies to the Night Clubs too. The regular American style of dance is the most common night club form. Then we have the specialties such as "Salsa." There will be a Night Club featuring Latin Rhythms, that is, the most common such as Waltz, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Samba and Tango. There will be others depending on what the dancers want.

"Moloka`i Woman" by Willie K and Amy Hanaialii

Then there is the matter of selling booze which has been the mainstay for ages. Dancers have a reputation of not being drunks, so the income must be from other sources. The juice bar, smack bar and of course, the cover charge. Then there will be other offerings, like the pending Pau Hana dance in town, open at 5 Pm and running until nine, every Wednesday.

 "Stifling an urge to dance may be bad for your health. It may be
too civilized ? It just may rust your spirit and your hips."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dancing in Japan

From the Japan Dance News:

Japan has more ballroom dancers than other country. Ballroom dancing magazines estimate that 14 million Japanese enjoy the pastime through classes at dance schools, university social dancing courses, social clubs, night clubs and competitions.

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy
the scenery while on a detour."

They also spend a fortune on tuxedos, chiffon-trimmed gowns, and videos that give tips on dancing the waltz, fox trot, tango, cha-cha, rumba and paso doble. Many of the dancers are over 40. They say they dance to get exercise, meet people and have fun.

"Dear Hearts And Gentle People"
by Bing Crosby

In 1880s, after Japan opened up to the outside world, the ballroom dancing of the times was all the rage. But the government clamped down and it was soon prohibited as a form of Western decadence. Needless to say, it did not stop many of them.

"The Tennessee Waltz" by Patti Page

Describing the first encounter with Western-style dancers in Victorian London in 1872, one Japanese government official wrote, "Several couples of men and women appeared, separating and joining together, moving backwards and forwards quickly and slowly...They simply went round and round to the quickening rhythm and here was no singing at all. The music all sounded savage to our ears, and too savage to bear."

Another ballroom boom occurred after World War II when hundred of dance halls were built for occupying American soldiers. But even then it was still considered a seamy "excuse for men to approach to women," an dance instructor told Newsweek.

And it was the American Style of dance that rubbed off on the Japanese. Until recently most dance schools were located in shady neighborhoods near Turkish baths and pachinko parlors. Only in the this century or so has it been embraced by mainstream Japan and the International Style has taken over.

Sign on Pearl City Electrician Truck: Let us remove your shorts.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Bottom of the Pile

Of course, not many know what this blog is all about so it stands to reason that it starts the year at the bottom. It took over from the old Live Music blog because there were too many out there named, "Live Music." So we await the ones interested in Live Music to get their two cents in too. We gotta favor someone? These blogs are for everyone and I realize it is going to take some doing to convince people of this.

"The new dance clubs that are in process of organizing will need the
new members to see them as reliable, dependable, credible,
helpful,  respectful, open, responsive and honest."

There are a million ways to experience music, but for the purpose of this blog let's just break it down to two categories: live and recorded. Most of our reader/dancers will agree that we are talking about dance music and could include some music for listening. Many dancers like to hear live music more than twice a month. And many of us can look back and remember some great concerts in our lives, like many of the terrific concerts we have had in Honolulu.

"Fly Me To The Moon" by Jimmy Borges

We can safely say that much of the sound of music on Oahu will never hurt our ears. That is, you don't so much hear the sound of each instrument, you hear it filling the small space we are enjoying. The sound of the entire band seems to float, like a cloud, above the booths. The sound can be beyond what most of us have ever experienced from excellent acoustic recorded music.

"Blue Hawaii" by Amy Hanaialii

In those and other experiences, the music connection was stronger than it could ever be from recordings, but for the most part most of us actually prefer recorded music. First and most obviously because it's a repeatable pleasure that we can have any time we want it. Next, recorded music is, after all, perfected and approved by the artists -- live music may be subject to the vagaries of chance.

"Many people may call it dance, but most dancers call it life."