With great power, comes great responsibility. Dancers create jams. Play the music you love. These were just a few of the nuggets of wisdom gleaned from Kyle Smith, Swing DJ Extraordinaire.
July 19 was Swingin’ Denver’s third workshop since its May creation. I’m very pleased we could offer a workshop with Kyle Smith. He’s been DJing for ages, DJs national and international swing events, is known for his talks, and, as a bonus, lives right here in Denver. It’s great having access to such a knowledgeable DJ that loves what he does.
Kyle started things off by talking about basic equipment for DJs. Possessing cables, external sound cards, a 3:2 adapter progressed into DJ software for PCs, Macs, and iPads. We discussed pros and cons; Kyle fielded questions.
After talking about these basic necessities, we moved onto other important DJ topics like Reading the Floor. Everyone contributed ideas for what they looked for and we created a sizable list on the whiteboard. It was nice hearing what other DJs look for. Kyle also laid out his thoughts and what he looks for, which included complexity of the dance being created spontaneously. That was a new one for me.
This led into the all important subject of DJ Flow – that ability to take dancers on a journey and to maximize their experience. DJ flow is tough work and it was really great hearing Kyle’s perspective on the matter. How do you transition between genres? Why does this song flow better than the other? How do you flow into a request? Can you? The list continues. You should have seen that whiteboard.
Finally, we had the Set Analysis portion. Each DJ was to bring a small playlist, detail the scene and the goal (i.e. we just had announcements, we’re going to have a steal jam and then we need to get the dancers’ energy up again), and then we would give our opinions on what we heard as it related to their goals. That was also insightful.
Overall, this workshop was very valuable and much knowledge was gleaned from Kyle. It’s a rare person that can make me enjoy sitting and listening for 4 hours, but he accomplishes this superbly. I hope more DJs take the time to learn from Kyle and invest in their DJ responsibilities. In the end, DJing is a very valuable position within the swing dance community. We are the music curators.