The Magic is in the Mix
Updated: Aug 26
Music preference is such a subjective experience, and with the digital technology of immediate and infinite choice, we can develop very honed and specific tastes. In this regard, building playlists for dance can seem an intimidating business.
‘Brand New Crisp Biscuit’
I remember growing up with vinyl. The coolest people would try to get to the many independent record shops around London as fresh deliveries of 12-inch singles arrived with the latest club sounds; the ‘brand new crisp biscuit’.
The difficulty in sourcing and affording this music added to its mystique and value. So much has changed since then; in many ways the world of music is a more egalitarian one now. And incidentally, DJs were predominantly male, white, aloof, too cool for school. Maybe that bit hasn’t changed so much.
Back to the mix. In the context of conscious dance practice like Flomotion, we are interested in all experience: feelings, thoughts, the physical and spiritual dimensions. Music ignites different feeling/body/consciousness states; a varied soundscape, which we use in a deliberate way to evoke a diversity of experience.
Gabrielle Roth, founder of 5 Rhythms (5R) dance, devised 5 ‘Waves’, each with their own character, tempo, and feeling: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. When you dance the 5R practice, the facilitator will play one, two, or three tracks from each of these styles, and then begins the whole process from the beginning.
Music is for Dancing
Flomotion grew out of the nightclub, warehouse party and rave scene of London in the 1980s. We had moved beyond rock n roll and punk, and even white people were dancing freely to reggae, soul, African, Latin, jazz, rare groove and eventually house music. Music was for dancing to, not the backdrop to loud conversation over a pint of beer. That was for the pub.
A Different Sound, A Different Rhythm
I remember going to (Notting Hill) Carnival and afro-Caribbean nightclubs, and loving the mix of sounds, and later at large raves, where there were different rooms at the same event, showcasing different DJs and live music. The idea that you could be deep into a heavy reggae beat and then find the tempo had changed; a different sound, a new mood, a new feeling was on the dancefloor.
Nothing worse for me than uniformity and endlessly repetitive rhythms. The aim at Flomotion is to keep the dancer involved and engaged, not wanting to leave the dancefloor or disconnect; a change of tempo and rhythm and there is something new to relate to.
Familiarity and Newness
Cover versions are common in dance practice sessions. Something attractive about a familiar tune in a new style; people can experience familiarity, and newness and surprise. Each playlist for Flomotion is freshly created for the event.
It keeps the feeling of unpredictability and uniqueness. Participants have reported the pleasure of not knowing what to expect each week whilst being gratified by a familiar format.
The Spirit of Diversity
World music, especially African and Latin American music are regular fixtures on the Flomotion playlists. Not only do they provide a great dance experience, they have a distinctive sound, evocative of the cultures from which they arise. Diversity of sound is suggestive of diversity of experience, and that is a guiding idea of Flomotion.
We are social creatures with many layers of consciousness. We are probably at our best when we are open, pluralistic and able to go beyond our own stories and biographies. Music and dance are great enablers in this regard.
Music moves us, it takes us places both outside and inside.
So, at Flomotion, expect to feel funky, chilled, clubby, exotic, ecstatic, calmed, touched, fragile, internal, free and much, much more. It’s all in the mix.