Music is so important in life. Whether singing, listening or playing. It can really boost someone’s mood, give meaning to moments in our life, and provide the perfect atmosphere or setting in films. But how about music in dance. How important is the modern jive music when we go to dance?
The theory of music and dance
Both music and dance are based around rhythm or beats. Some dances like a waltz need a certain count (3 / 4 time), while others rely more on the rhythm to create the feel and movement of the dance. Beginners tend to stick with music that has an obvious beat. In modern jive this is a 4/4 beat, with a steady beat that’s easy to hear and therefore step to. Therefore keeping in time.
As we progress, we may move to dance to different types of music.
Syncopation to add in additional footwork.
Latin music to bring in moves from salsa, argentine tango.
Slow bluesy music to dance the newer silc style or move more towards late night blues style of modern jive.
Music is always there in modern jive, excluding any musical pauses which can cause confusion for less experienced or unsure dancers. Although there are performances (professional or otherwise) where you may see dancers perform without music. The most well known recently on Strictly Come Dancing, performed by Rose and Giovanni to represent what Rose ‘hears’ when dancing.
Music in social dancing
But for most people, especially social dancing, music can be essential to our enjoyment of a freestyle night.
Our favourite music makes us happy, makes us want to sing along.
If we know the song we’re dancing to we can explore the musicality more easily. The beat, the crescendos, a key change or tempo change, the lyrics. All can impact the way we dance or let us feel more comfortable and confident in our ability to dance well.
A song that we’re not familiar with can mean it’s more challenging if we want to play with the music rather than just stepping to the beat. We rely more on our dance partner to lead us through the breaks, to know when the music might change, or how we can reflect the style.
Songs we don’t enjoy can turn us off dancing. While I’ll generally dance to most music, dancing to 60s songs really doesn’t rock my boat, and I’d rather sit out and wait for something else to come on. The same as traditional ‘swing’ music. I don’t enjoy dancing to it, even if I’m dancing with someone I enjoy partnering. I find I’m just going through the motions rather than enjoying the music.
We rely on the djs at a dance night to play music that we can dance to, and enjoy.
What’s ceroc or modern jive music like?
It can be boring to only dance to the same old tracks. That’s one of the big benefits to modern jive over other dance styles like salsa. The wider choice of music to choose from. I used to love salsa, but after a few years, the music feels a bit samey (I don’t think much of it being in Spanish helped me with my enjoyment of the music either, I couldn’t get into it in the same way I can in modern jive).
With modern jive drawing from so many dance styles, it means we get the biggest choice of music. Generally it’s a 4 beat count, and inspiration for the music played in modern jive comes from pop to swing, latin to blues, ballet to rock. Yes really. Jive+ Thank Friday freestyle nights are full of more unusual and complex music for dancers who want to dance to more challenging music, and I’ve danced there to pretty much every music type including Swan Lake!
Originally Ceroc was quite bouncy in style, dancing in a circular movement, and upbeat. The music reflected that, with many people who’ve danced the style through the years referring it to ‘boom boom’ music. Not veering off a certain tempo range, a very obvious beat.
But through the years, there’s been a change – at weekenders in particular you can see the difference with main room and generally faster more upbeat popular music (great for beginners or those who are happy to stick with what they know in dance feel and music). In addition you get second or even third rooms catering to blues / slower music, or maybe latin and argentine tango.
Modern jive music caters for all abilities and all types of music choice. For those who want and need a strong beat to follow. Through to those who want more expressive music, to challenge their musicality, and bring in more of their dance experiences from outside of modern jive.
How does music help your dancing?
Music really makes us help feel the music. It aids that connection to your dance partner. I bet the really amazing dances you can remember over your modern jive time, you can remember exactly which song was playing at the time.
I can remember mine. Three of my favourite dances:
At a Ceroc Southport weekender in the blues room to Black Velvet.
At a Ceroc Daventry event to Muse’s Uprising.
A dance at a Wantage freestyle, to a french track that was new to me. Years later I can still hear parts of the song and feel how that dance felt, but have never worked out what the track was called.
Those dances were special because everything clicked, the movement, the partnership, the play, the connection. All of it brought together by it being the right piece of music for that dance partnership at that time.
There’s also music that just makes you want to get up and dance. Certain tracks you just have to find someone to dance with.
In some cases, it has to be the right person. There are a couple of songs I know I’ll have a decent dance to with whoever. But if I’m dancing with a specific person to those tracks, I know we’ll have a blast and they’ll be really fun dances.
On the other hand, there’s people I enjoy dancing with to certain tracks, but I really don’t enjoy dancing to slower tracks with them. Mainly because they tend to be a ‘main room’ more traditional modern jiver and they suit those type of tracks. Their dancing style doesn’t change with a slower more bluesy track, so I feel silly when I can’t dance the way I feel a piece of music should be danced to.
That’s what music brings in modern jive. A connection to that music. But not everyone feels or hears the same as you do.
Every dance (to the same track) will be different every time you dance to it with a different person. And that’s why I’d get bored dancing with the same person all night.
So how do other people feel about music and how it’s a part of their modern jive journey.
How important is the music in modern jive
“It’s the most important part!”
“The music has to grab you, otherwise It’s hard to be motivated to dance.”
“The right music gets you up on your feet.”
“The DJs playlist and willingness to play requests matter.” (Definitely a DJ can make or break an event. I find I enjoy most, there are some I know will introduce me to some great new music, while there’s one who I’d probably avoid)
“It can influence where people want to dance if there’s a certain DJ playing. On the other side some people play the same old stuff they played years ago. I’ll avoid those venues.”
“I hate it when a piece of music comes on that I love, and I can’t find someone to dance with to it.”
“The music is the heart and soul of the dance…without music there is no dancing.”
“Great music gives me a natural high. If you add in the dancing it’s taken to another level.”
“The music is vital. If it’s a track you don’t like it can be a bad dance. If it’s an ok song it’s an ok dance. But if it’s a great track you can walk off the floor mindblown.”
“Music is only half the experience. You can only have a wow dance if it’s the right dance partner too.”
“Sometimes I’ll turn down an offer to dance to a track if I don’t like it (I’ve done the same, three 60s tracks on the trot. I don’t think the person asking was very happy I refused him despite me explaining I’d dance with him to better music).“
“There’s too many different views about music. It’s easy to start a debate about specific tracks that are really polarising (Just mention Tina Arena’s Now I can dance – a marmite song when it comes to modern jive).”
“I hate when people try to force complicated footwork into music that doesn’t ask for that.”
“I get bored with music that has a repetitive thump, thump beat.”
“If the music doesn’t make me want to dance, I’m just going through the motions.”
“It annoys me when the person I’m dancing with is totally off the beat, or isn’t even listening to the music.
“I’ll dance to anything. I just want to dance.”
“I don’t get asked to dance often, so if I do get asked I’ll dance to anything.”
“Some music just totally clicks for me and I’m in my own dance heaven.”
“You can hear a song on the radio and think that’s good, but if the beat isn’t there then it doesn’t work.”
“Most of the songs I hear that I like are judged on the basis of whether I think they’ll be good to dance to.”
“If I don’t feel the music in my heart it doesn’t make me dance.”
“I love dancing to live music and I’ve never been disappointed. But at some Ceroc nights, the music hasn’t appealed as much. (I’m the opposite with live music. I’ve been to 2 live music dance events, and didn’t enjoy either).”
“Different dance organisers are known for certain styles of music. You always have that choice of where to go, but expectations about the music in advance can make or break a night.”
How does the music at modern jive impact your dancing and enjoyment? Let me know your favourite tracks to dance to.