?Should Dj’s Cross Fade songs at Salsa Socials?

In the world of commercial music, the ability for a DJ to seamlessly cross-fade from 1 track to another is without a doubt one of the top 3 signs of their skill. The more seamless the changeover (no noticeable change in beat or tempo) the more skilled the DJ.

DJ Chilli - Hot on the Decks

In the Salsa Scene however, cross-fading as a measure of a DJ’s skill  has been met with much more debate. There are in-fact 2 separate camps;
1. Those for it &
2. Those against it.

Those Against It:
These are usually the dancers that have a deep appreciation for musicality and dance within the music. They like to hit the breaks and groove to the beat.
As we all know, the end of a song usually has the most noticeable break & so these dancers want to hit it and hit it HARD! If a DJ Cross-fades from one song into another, the final break will never be hit and these dancers will feel cheated.

As for the 2nd main reason, well the end of the song means the end of a dance. Once a song ends, everyone says thank-you and moves on to ask other people at the party to dance. When a song cross-fades, the less musically attuned dancers wont know a song has ended which results in them walking on & off the dance-floor at random times during songs rather than simultaneously at the end of a song.

Those for it:
These are usually the more social bees who believe Musical Dead-Space at a social event is a big NO-NO! They have much less qualms about getting on the dance-floor 1/2 way through one song and walking off 1/2 way through the other and much more concerned about there being a constant vibe of music just like at a commercial social event.

So, on my quest to become one of South Africa’s best Salsa DJ’s, I would like to hear what you (yes you reading this blog right now) think. So please give me your opinion:

Do you think Salsa DJ’s should cross-fade songs? (& leave a reason why!)

Till next time, remember to Live, Laugh, Love & Salsa (with some Bachata)…

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About Chilly

Causality - I believe for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cause and Effect. I am the cause - what will be the effect?
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11 Responses to ?Should Dj’s Cross Fade songs at Salsa Socials?

  1. Hilton says:

    Personally, I prefer it when songs are not cross-faded. I’ve had way too many awkward moments when both myself and / or my partner are not sure if a song has ended or not, yet don’t want to offend each other by (potentially) walking off half-way through a song. On the other end of the scale, you usually don’t want to dominate someone’s evening by dancing with them for four songs in a row (exceptional circumstances aside). That’s just rude 😉

    So, here’s another question: If the DJ *is* cross-fading, how do you politely finish that dance, assuming that you happen to miss the switch between songs (or the DJ is just that good)? Everyone gets tired at some point, and you’re bound to encounter those one or two people whom you just struggle to dance with once in a while (no matter how good either of you are).

  2. Emma says:

    Hmm… I would go for against it. It’s great to actually get into a particular song. If they’re all fading into each other it just becomes a crazy stream of sound. Plus I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t realise the change and would just keep dancing til the music stopped – never. :p

    • Emma says:

      *I would go against it”… or something to that effect. Obviously these word issues are what’s causing my procrastination for writing my essay right now.

  3. nikos says:

    Being primarily a Salsa DJ, since the beginning I learned that most of Salsa music is not meant for being beatmatched and blended the way other genres are. Salsa music alone covers several similar yet different rhythms like guaracha, guaguanco, son montuno, etc. All of these have their own distinctive percussion patterns, most of them are being played by live musicians, which means their tempo is varying. If you are doing a Latin music night which covers all popular latin styles – bachata and salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, cha cha, timba for example, all of them have a really different tempo and feeling so beatmatching them would be tricky. Probably the only of these styles which would be beatmatchable would be reggaeton, and more recent merengues since the music is produced by digital means, and the tempo would most probably be fixed.
    Most of the latin djs I have heard they don’t normally beatmatch salsa, bachata, etc. but they do mix reggaeton and latin house. What they do most of the time with these live styles – they “notematch”, for example one song is finishing with a note or a percussive accent and they mix in a song which starts with a similar accent. Salsa is not the conventional house music. Basically its a couple dance themed music. Not designed to keep the same couples dancing all night.

  4. Rosa says:

    I also prefer the song to be played till the end. I have been disappointed too many times when a song, especially one that I know and love, has been ended half way, specifically if you know what to expect. However at the same time, one doesn’t want to linger on the dance floor waiting for the next song to start playing, and when there is a dead beat, it kind of directly or indirectly signify time for a break or partner switch (whether one wants to or not), that dead beat can also feel awkward.

    One suggestion would be to fade the song into the next one, but only once it is ending (to satisfy those who would like to dance to a whole song). I might be wrong, but I see dancing social salsa different from “normal” disco in that, in the disco club the DJ can cross fade as they wish as the dancers are usually dancing without partners and can leave the dance floor when they feel like it, while in salsa dancing there should be some courtesy towards the dancers, and then ultimately the dancing partners in regard to finishing a song.

    Hilton, for those who would like to (politely) deny their partners of dancing with them all night long (lol!!!!!!!), would be to politely refer to needing a drink (you could offer her or him a drink which they might turn down) or some fresh air, with a light promise to continue dancing later. Most likely you will be dancing with another partner, (or you can avoid them entirely). So unless one is not been hunted down or stalked, you will break free and have a chance to dance with other people. Just be nice about it :-). The dancing partners should also take a hint and not take it personally.

  5. nikos says:

    Being primarily a Salsa Dj, since the beginning I learned that most of Salsa music is not meant for being beatmatched and blended the way other genres are. Salsa music alone covers several similar yet different rhythms like guaracha, guaguanco, son montuno, etc. All of these have their own distinctive percussion patterns, most of them are being played by live musicians, which means their tempo is varying. If you are doing a Latin music night which covers all popular latin styles – bachata and salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, cha cha, timba for example, all of them have a really different tempo and feeling so beatmatching them would be tricky. Probably the only of these styles which would be beatmatchable would be reggaeton, and more recent merengues since the music is produced by digital means, and the tempo would most probably be fixed.
    Most of the latin djs I have heard they don’t normally beatmatch salsa, bachata, etc. but they do mix reggaeton and latin house. What they do most of the time with these live styles – they “notematch” (not sure if you can call it this way), for example one song is finishing with a note or a percussive accent and they mix in a song which starts with a similar accent. Salsa is not the conventional house music. Basically its a couple dance themed music, not designed to keep the same couples dancing all night.

  6. Pete Burch says:

    If you’re going to be a salsa DJ then you play the songs they way they were originally recorded or performed. Period. “Ordinary” DJ’s can cross-fade with impunity because most of the songs they play just fade out at the end anyway.

    Why would you water down the very essence of what makes salsa what it is just to cater for the numpties who can’t hear or won’t learn where a break is and what to do with it?

    I’m still getting to grips with breaks, musicality and swish-looking endings but it’s what I aspire to. If the culture changed to fading out, I’d be robbed of part of that aspiration so I might as well hang my dancing shoes up now. (Actually, I’d just stop going to that DJ or Promotor’s gigs and take my custom elsewhere).

  7. Andrea says:

    Can I leave my answer now Chilly? =)
    In general DJ´s should fade the songs together so the party never stops. But! as you all point out there are some songs that have great ends where you can make a gran finale if you want or were you can leave your dance partner in a polite way. (I do not agree with the dance partner switch though, because if you are that new to Salsa that you don´t hear when the song ends, you might even confuse breaks in the middle of the song as an end… As far as I know, the “partner dance rules” are that you dance two songs and then get off the dance floor. If you leave earlier it is saying “thanks, but no thanks” and if you want to dance more it is “I like dancing with you”)
    I think the trick to be a good Salsa DJ is to play until the end, perhaps always (even though the end is not WOW), and make the breaks between the songs only as long as necessary. Sometimes no break, sometimes a four second break. I definately think it should not be more than a four second break. Count in your head and you will see…
    Also, as salsa songs are not identical but a lot of them match anyway, a good DJ should be able to change the song and not make it sound like the same one, even to an untrained ear.

  8. Tumbao says:

    I think that all here are in agreement. It’s a no-brainer in my opinion, and I share my opinions as a dancer; dj and musician.
    No to cross-fading Salsa music. Period.
    When Salsa music is not allowed to run its course, I think it a little rude to the dancers and to the musicians both playing and listening. The same can be said for jazz; classical; rock and other genres of music that has both a long shelf-life and minimum 50% of the instruments are played by living breathing creatures. Most people that give a damn want to hear the entire song. A Latin dance floor is usually alive with so many different rhythms; the job of beat-mixing songs WELL is difficult to do and should therefore be attempted only by skilled technicians.

    However, in my opinion this rule should apply to the end of the song only. I have on occasion heard a few Salsa mixes both recorded and live where the dj merges two tunes of the same tempo seamlessly. Not only does it work, but the dancer is given even more characteristics to play with in the same dance. Think Salsa romantica for 2 minutes bolstered by Salsa dura all the way to the climax. Explosive with the right partner!

    I think that the onus is on the listener to educate themselves and fellow dancers.
    1. Ask the right questions from people that know the answers.
    2. Learn about Latin music styles and how to relate to them.
    3. Listen to Latin music every moment you get.
    4. Listen again without trying to count out the music. One cannot listen and count at the same time (guys).

    @Hilton (girls too), if you don’t fancy dancing any longer, maybe you could excuse yourself from it. I’m sure that she can also tell when a song is around 10 minutes long instead of just the 5 minutes you bought into. So offer her a drink which she will probably decline and smile a wish/promise of another dance another time.

    Que viva la Salsa!!

  9. Tammy says:

    No cross-fading – the end of a song is important – sometimes it comes to soon, sometimes it is something to look forward to! It can be dramatic, it can be polite, it can be uncomfortable, it can be amusing, it can begin and end a relationship (dancing of course – though i bet there is evidence of something more permanent!), it is an integral part of social salsa, how can you even suggest skipping over it for the sake of seamless melding. I understand that smooth cross fading is a sign of DJ skill (no noticeable change in beat or tempo) – but salsa music changes all the time, that’s part of its charm (the guessing game, am i still on one or is that now five ….) – besides, since when is a salsa social about the DJ’s skill …. its about the dancing ….. and as proved by one of your previous articles – a good number of us will salsa to anything!!!

    So …. I say ‘NO’ Chilly, big thumbs down ……

    xx

  10. Wil says:

    Very interesting question, though I think there is more than one answer. If your DJing at a Salsa Social…I would says “HELLLS NOOOO” For the reasons you pointed out..”salseros and salseras love to hit those breaks and feel the music. They want to be able to move on to the next dance and relive the same experience. But on the other hand if your DJing at a club its a totally different case…Because you need to keep the music pumping.

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