The music played at any dance venue plays a big part in a person’s enjoyment of the class or event. In particular once people have been dancing a while they seem to get more discerning, helped by them quite often wanting more of a challenge. I know for me dancing to salsa music all the time was getting boring and helped my move towards ceroc and modern jive.
One of the best things about modern jive is the choice of music. It’s renowned for being able to be danced to any type of music – contemporary, pop, dance, r&b, country, 60s-80s. The saying goes that as long as it’s got the right beat, and the right tempo, dancers are good to go.
Ceroc in particular gets a bad rap for its music. I can understand that if you go to a venue where the dj just plays music of the same tempo, the same genre, and doesn’t introduce new tracks or listen to feedback from the dancers. But is ceroc music really as poor as its reputation for music is?
When you start out it can get a bit boring dancing to the same kind of tracks. When I started, during class and freestyle there was a lot of American Boy, Beggin’ and Mercy played. All good and reliable for beginners with good strong beats, but a little dull if that’s all you hear time and time again. But if it works for the majority of people at the venue and is an easy to dance to track for learning moves in class, it helps beginners feel comfortable and get used to not having to worry about complicated music.
At freestyles you want to hear more. There’s so much music that’s danceable, and everyone likes different types of music, it’s great to hear a good mix. I find that most of my playlists and downloads nowadays are based on 1) whether I like the track and 2) if it’s danceable. Mostly I’ve heard the music at a freestyle and have had to ask or Shazam the track so I can download it.
I’m lucky in that my regular venues had DJs who were a mix of ages, had a mix of interests and background, and have been (to differing extents) willing to take requests. Yes, there’s been some of the club classics played, but generally we’ve had a mix of genres, easy and more challenging tracks to dance to with a range of speeds. No middle of the range beats all night, but adding latin, blues, RnB, and ballads to the mix. Around the nearby franchises, they sometimes theme their freestyles – Motown (much to my consternation) seems to be a current favourite, but they’re also play blues music later in the evenings along with some tango, especially if there are second rooms.
The DJs in our area are also given more chance to challenge with the music they play. And that includes Ceroc venues. Sometimes new visitors are a little shocked when they turn up to a freestyle and wonder what some of the ‘weird’ music is. Like any DJ, sometimes you’ll like the music and other times you’ll wonder what on earth they’ve been playing. But I always think you need to give music a chance if it’s a new style or sound you’re getting used to dancing with.
Outside of Ceroc, we’re also in the best place for the challenging music with the Thank Friday It’s Freestyle (TFIF). Music that doesn’t always have an obvious beat to follow, more expressive music, music that changes beat, or is lesser heard. There are plenty of people who head to the freestyles from outside the area, so there’s definitely a demand for this type of music. I always say it’s an acquired taste, and say don’t just give up after the first one, because it takes some getting used to if you’re new to it.
From my experience Ceroc’s reputation for bland clubby bouncy music isn’t realistic from the venues I’ve been to. If the venues you go to aren’t playing the music you enjoy, but you know it goes down well elsewhere, then make friends with the DJ. Put in music requests. And get up and dance to the tracks you do like. And make sure you feed back to the organiser when it’s good.
How do you find the music at Ceroc venues? Is it noticeably different compared to independents?