Last night, at the end of Yonge and Bloor Blues, after our last blues song we turned back on all the lights and I played a couple soul/motown songs to wrap up the night. The people who were still around and still wanted to dance got a chance to bust out the moves one more time and we got an upbeat end to the night.
I did it without thinking much about it, but when discussing it with Randy later, I realized that I did it because I don’t like anti-climactic ends to the evening. Maybe it is just a personal preference (I walk out disappointed when the end of a movie is anti-climactic, I prefer things to be wrapped up in a neat little package), but I feel that I have more fun at a dance when I get a chance to release any residual energy and dance hard one last time at the end of the night. There can be the instinct as the dance progresses to lower the energy level and then call it quits, but I think that the best DJs/Bands will respond to the dancers’ energy level and but then push them to dance harder when the energy gets low.
It is like the fade-out/defined ending distinction in songs, but at the macro level. I (and many dancers) prefer it when songs end with a defined bang instead of fading out into silence. Plenty of great songs with fadeouts, but ideally most of them would have a distinct ending. Ideally the night should be ended on a high note and the dancers should be able to get some closure.
In the dance world, it can be difficult to accomplish this defined ending, because dances will sometimes run for an undefined amount of time (i.e. until people get tired/bored and leave). At Yonge and Bloor, we don’t have the problem because a large majority of our dancers leave in time to catch the subway, so our dances come to a natural end about 1ish. (And then Randy tries to convince people to get Pork Bone Soup)
At some lindy hop events organizers give a satisfactory ending to everyone’s night by having concurrent lindy hop and blues rooms until the end of near the end of the dance. People can choose their own adventure, and if they want to dance hard just before they leave to wrap up their night, then they can. Alternatively people will finish things up with swing and soul or gospel sets before the end of the night so you get an extra chance to get your groove on.
I have a bit of a pet peeve about organizers/DJs/whoever is responsible (no time for the blame game) who come to a foregone conclusion about how the night is going to go down and where the energy will be at any one time. At lindy hop dances, the pre-determined (insert arbitrary time here) is not “blues-o’-clock” in which you play progressively lower energy music until people get bored and leave, nor is it necessarily “west-coast-o’-clock”, or “disco-o-clock”. It all depends on the dancers, and only partially, they should be pushed in an energetic direction. Don’t decide that people are out of energy, because when you do so, you are killing the night instead of keeping it on life support for as long as possible. If it is indeed disco-o-clock, better make sure that it is a welcome change of pace that will ultimately inject new energy into the tired/bored/uninspired dancers. None of this wimpy lullaby disco stuff. (While disco was an arbitrary illustrative choice, I do firmly believe that a disco afterparty is a great idea.)
These are all just my personal thoughts, I am sure that I am not the only one who likes to wait for that last good dance before leaving, and I hope that I am not the only one who likes to see dances end on an energetic note. (Energetic organizers yelling at people to leave doesn’t count).
Possible times to close out the night:
-Your (Somewhat) Friendly Neighbourhood Kevin Temple