Earlier this month, I went to my favorite event, Boogie by the Bay. The reasons I like this event are many, but the most important one is that I always leave the event feeling better about dancing. The event this year was a particularly good refresher for me, shifting my perspective and maybe even my dancing itself.
One thing I particularly enjoyed this year was the music. I tend to really like the DJs at Boogie – not all, admittedly, but most, especially the amazing Beth Bellamy. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but what I like about her most – other than the fact that I like her taste in music – is that she plays a great variety of music, mixing genre and tempo so that every song is something different from the previous. With such a wide diversity of great music out there, few people explore that range and few do so in a way that keeps you dancing.
I also have to give a shoutout to Arjay Centeno, who very pleasantly surprised me with his set. It was like the “groove and soul” hour, with an amazing mix of soulful songs, new and old. Motown, old soul, classic R&B, modern R&B, neo-soul, top 40 with a beat – it was all good. I talked with several people who expected a faster, more club-heavy experience from Arjay, but loved his mix (and I hope the NextGen committee keeps him for next year!).
But his set, along with much of the music I enjoyed that weekend, made me wonder: Where has the soul gone from our dancing?
I moved to California last year, so maybe it’s just the trend here, but it seems like there’s more and more fast top 40 dance music (and endless covers and remakes of said music) and less blues, classic R&B, Motown, or anything with real soul (as in, deep feeling and emotion). Where’s the Al Green? Aretha Franklin? Sam Cooke? Eric Clapton? Susan Tedeschi? Where is the drippy music, the groovin’ music, the music that is best served with a glass of whiskey, or the music that two people should really only dance to in private?
I’ve written before about the important role music plays in shaping our dance, and this new shift in music has me thinking – and somewhat concerned.
Is it just me? Is it just the places where I dance? Are you guys hearing good blues, soul, and R&B where you live? Do you miss it? Is this just a trend, since fast dance music is popular on the radio? Or is WCS moving in a new indefinite direction?