Warning. Foul language and mature subject matter. Don’t be bitchin’ about not being warned.
We live in a very instant gratification society. We want the info and we want it NOW. So, to keep those of you with no patience to actually read more than one sentence, I’ll get right to the point.
Westies, I’m pretty disappointed. Not shocked. Just disappointed.
Here’s the scene. It was Friday night at a recent convention. About 1:30. Well after competitions, but not really considered ‘late night’ on the Westie clock. The room was packed. The floor was full. Very full. People were conversing in little groups around tables and in the corners of the room. You know, the usual scene at a convention. People were having a good time, letting loose, and creating a good vibe. I liked it. A lot!
The DJ was playing music that had people groovin’. Good stuff too. Lots of energy, good groove, it made you want to get on the floor. A song came on that sounded really good. Nice late night feel, good bass line, sweet melody, really groovy. I was watching the floor and seeing some really sweet dancing. Then I heard it. Again, and again. And then it repeated. Again and again.
“…put your hands in the air if you’re fucking tonight.”
That was the line. And it repeated. Again and again.
The next song was another good groovy song, no issues there.
The song after was about the female anatomy and I’m pretty sure I heard the word pussy in there, but only once.
Now, let me make a few things perfectly clear. I have no issue with the subject matter. None. My view on sex? AWESOME! I love it! Bring it on! Even better when it’s highly sensual and flirtatious.
In fact, I’d say 80 % of the blues tunes I have are about sex. Someone is cheating on someone else, so and so is gonna get ‘busy’ with his woman, what’s her name is gonna show her man how it’s done and how lucky he is, if he can’t satisfy her, she’ll do it herself, etc. Is all in there. And I love it. More on that in a minute.
Women? I love them. Beautiful creatures. I like how they look, how they feel, how they think, how they sound, how they smell etc. Their mind is fascinating. I love their body parts and how they decorate them with fabric and jewellery. I’m a big fan of their peaks and valleys. I’m a man, I know what I like and I’m not afraid to admit it. Call me what you want. Keep your judgements to yourself.
My favouite word in the English language? Fuck. I love it. It is such a useful word. Verb, adjective, noun. It can be used in so many creative ways, mean so many things, and in so many situations. But, there is a time and place for such a word.
Are we clear on that? I have no issues with the subject matter or the language on it’s own. What I do have issue with is how it is all put together and in a time and place that isn’t appropriate in my strong opinion. There was a time and place for that song. That wasn’t it. And you all accepted it.
How many of you remember George Carlin? Do you remember his “7 words you can’t say on television”? Here’s a reminder. In 1972 he did a monologue with his 7 words. These are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, motherfucker, cocksucker and tits. Think that’s old school and not in use? Think again. To this day, 2014 you still can’t say those words on TV.
Lenny Bruce. Anybody know how he is? In 1966 he was arrested for saying eight words, and his are, in alphabetical order. Balls, cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, penis, shit, and tits. Some of his words are also on Carlin’s list. And to this day, you still can’t say Carlin’s on television. They are considered offensive.
Some modern music is loaded with lyrics that are nasty. Lyrics talking about ballin’, pimpin’, bitches and hoes, and even the N word (you figure it out) can be so in-your-face that you just can’t get away from hearing it. Shock value? What for? My opinion on it? Completely tasteless and without any class what-so-ever. On top of that, it tends to be rather offensive.
Back to the blues music I was referring to. The subject matter is definitely not one you’d bring up in church. But the lyrics use clean words that are strung together in ways that you actually have to pay attention, listen, and use your brain to put two and two together. In that way, all the sexual innuendos are quite entertaining, and in my opinion, pack more power without being offensive. Now don’t get me wrong, not all blues are clean. I also have several that are nasty. I wouldn’t play them in a class.
So, back to our scene. Here we have a song with offensive language. And it’s 1:30. Now, yes a convention after midnight is definitely an adult playground, and I love it. But that’s no excuse to play a song with that kind of lyric. Ok, for those of you who say well, it’s late night and maybe it should be played at 4:30. Um, NO! I don’t care how late night it is. Nasty and foul don’t belong. There are songs that deal with mature subject matters like sex and drugs and heartache in much classier ways that are just as groovy and sexy.
I brought the issue up with a DJ who is primarily a late night DJ. He was shocked at what was played, and what it was followed with. He didn’t care what time of night it is. Offensive language is offensive language and for the most part doesn’t belong for social dancing and is completely without any class. His view is that there is a time and place for everything and some songs should almost never be played in a public venue.
Before class one night a few months ago I went out for dinner with a few people and two of them are DJ’s. I asked them them their opinion on foul language in the music we dance to. They agreed that it just doesn’t belong. If it’s that in-your-face it’s offensive and takes away from the magic of words in song. On top of that, it’s considered offensive.
One of them did say that if the occasional f-bomb or s-bomb is dropped and it actually adds to the song because no other word would, then fine. I can agree with that. In fact, at an alternative Milonga I have been to there is a song that sometimes gets played where the f-bomb is dropped. I don’t remember the actual lyric, but the story of the song is of a woman in New York who is broke and is tired of getting pushed around. She has her last 50 bucks in her pocket and someone pulls a knife to mug her. The line is “And I’m like, Fuck You.” and the melody picks up again. I’m ok with it. It happens once, says it’s thing and moves along. I wouldn’t play it before midnight. After 1 am I might but I’d have a good look at the crowd first and base my decision on them.
Another instance I ran into almost 6 months ago now was at another local dance. The DJ was playing some pretty groovy music. At around 10:30 I hear the word fuck and shit in the same sentence in the chorus. I mentioned it to the DJ and that I think it’s a little early in the night for that. His response was something along the lines of ‘well, they never listen to the lyrics when they are dancing anyways, so I’ll play it when-ever I want’. What? Really?
This is part of my problem of why you Westies are disappointing. You aren’t paying attention. You have no idea what you are listening to. You are all adults. You can handle topics like sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, gambling, heartache etc in your music. But you aren’t noticing what the songs are actually saying. And in the case of “raise your hands in the air if you’re fucking tonight.” you were all raising your hands to be ‘musical’ but had no clue what was being said. You weren’t dancing to a song about making love. You were dancing to a song about fucking. If you were raising your hands to be musical, what’s next for that song when you finally clue in, grinding your crotch into your partner’s ass?
All the DJ saw was a group of people grooving to the song he chose. Since he saw a crowded floor, you sent him the message that you all like that song, and that it was acceptable. Guess what. He’ll play it again. Great. We now dance to songs about fucking. I’ve never been more proud to be a Westie. In case you haven’t figured it out, that was sarcasm.
So, dear West Coast Swing Community that I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life being proud to be a part of, I ask you this. Where is your class? Where is your sense of dignity? I know you have it. Why are you letting it go? Because times are changing? Because this is a ‘street dance’? Give me an answer that isn’t full of bullshit, please. Why can’t we maintain some class and dignity in our community?
There is an old school Westie who writes about the change of WCS. This individual just bitches and moans about how it isn’t the way is used to be blah, blah, blah. I don’t give a fuck about their opinion primarily because they don’t offer a solution. So I’m not going to play that game. My opinion is that this dance evolves, and it should. I have a better idea.
Here is my suggestion. Get to know your music. Start paying attention, people. And start talking to your local pros and Djs. You need to talk to them about music and what you think should or should not be played. Your Djs are playing music for you to dance to. Most Westies will dance to damn near anything. If you aren’t paying attention they are only guessing what you like. If they see a packed floor they’ll play the song again. How about when you hear a song you like why don’t you go up and tell them you liked it. Then go the step that they actually need. Tell them why you liked it. That will help them find more songs like the one you like. And thank them for what they do. Their job is tougher than you think.
To the Djs. Choose a little wisely. Most times you do. Why not use the TV as your guide line? You probably watch too much of it any ways but you know what can and can’t be said on TV. If it can’t be said on TV, should you be playing it at your dance? You have a tough job. It’s not one that I want and would not do well. You are under a lot of stress. But for those of you who plug in your ipod with a playlist you built three days ago, uh, no. You aren’t a dj. You are a jukebox. A DJ reads the crowd and chooses accordingly as they go. A good one chooses wisely and still keeps people on the floor.
So, does that sound like a good idea? Let’s all start communicating and putting a little more class back into West Coast Swing.