Let’s Pay Our Dance DJs

After conducting a survey around our dance scene, it seems that our awesome DJs are not actually being paid to provide music for "for-profit" events with the exception of the Toronto Swing Dance Society. That's crazy.

Arthur and Erin dancing at Dovercourt

After conducting an informal survey around our dance scene, it seems to me that our awesome DJs in Toronto are not actually being paid to provide music for “for-profit” events (the only exception is the Toronto Swing Dance Society). That’s crazy.

As a dance DJ myself, I have probably poured more time and money into this passion than I will ever make back actually dj’ing so I know how much any type of remuneration helps us continue truckin’ on. Then I thought about the DJs that I actually invite out to play for our Yonge & Bloor Blues dance and realized that we don’t actually pay them either. This will change starting July 2nd for our next blues dance. While we do not make a boat-load of profit from the actual dance itself, it’s only fair to pay DJs for their time and expertise.

My friend Kevin Sue keeps saying that the best ideas are the ones that pass the common-sense test. I truly believe that this is one of them. For things to change in the scene that I am a part of, I have to actually start doing it myself first. This will keep me grounded and honest. Hopefully it will also keep me motivated to push for ideas that I believe in and at the end of the day, also keep me excited about dancing. 🙂

So let’s get on and start paying our hard working DJs. Everybody wins when the music for dancing gets better.


  1. Makes sense to me. Obviously these people give generously of their time and passion so it makes sense to encourage them if we can. 🙂

  2. I don’t understand the attitude towards dance teachers in the swing community. Coming from a dance form where the custom is to compete for 10-16 years, then take a rigorous teacher’s exam, it’s foreign to me that a dance teacher wouldn’t be paid at least as much as a DJ. The cavalier attitude towards lindy hop teachers makes me unsure of the value of my contribution.

  3. I agree that DJs should be compensated for the time, money and skill that goes into being an effective DJ. I use the word ‘compensated’ because money isn’t the only form of payment. If were going to have a honest discussion, it should at least be acknowledged that Simon does provide compensation in the form of free entry and credit to future events. That being said, I still think that at the very least DJs should be given the option to be financially compensated. Personally, it would be nice to get back some of the money I’ve spent on music or to receive money acknowledging the boat load of time spent on building a set list.

    When Jane and I hosted a dance at the Yoga Lounge a few months ago, I got into contact with Alain Wong in Montreal and Mike Thibault from Rochester, two reputable DJs. They both agreed that compensation is a good thing, but Alain did mention that sometimes DJs don’t get paid. However, this all depends on what the budget of the dance is how much money is coming in. We made enough money that night, so we paid the awesome Erica and Arthur before we paid ourselves.

    Bottom line, I think DJs should at the very least have the option to get paid. How much they should get paid is a topic I don’t really have time to comment on. DJing is an art form that requires a considerable amount of time, money, effort and creativity. It’s growth and sustainability, like many art forms, requires essential resources, one of which is money. This is obvious isn’t it?


    Your friendly neighborhood Lindy Hopper,

    Phil Bourassa

  4. Totally agree. Let’s pay our DJs. (well, the good ones, anyways) I think they provide an excellent service scouring the interweb (or the library/used cd shops/etc) for new [old] music.

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