Dancing in the era of rock has been easy. The majority of rock songs are in 4/4 time and are fairly easy to dance to because of it. I guess that makes it easier to improvise dance moves. I think DJs love 4/4 time because its easier to get most people out onto the dance floor. But that’s not all there is.
I am a fan of the band Yes and DJs never play their 70s music. It might be that they dislike really long songs, some clocking in at 20 minutes. Yet many DJs will play Stairway to Heaven or Paradise by the Dashboard Light songs that clock in at about 10 minutes or a medium length Yes song.
Maybe it’s the key changes that turn them off. You have to mix things up to keep songs interesting when they log so much time. But I’m betting that what DJs hate the most about 70s Yes is their time changes. I think that DJs just assume that their dancers will be confused. Very few of them have played 70s Yes.
Someday, somewhere a DJ will play 70s Yes just to see if it kills dancing. I would propose other experiments with Yes music to them.
The thing is, songs with time changes are okay for dancing if you know or memorize the song and thus have a brain that can translate this to your body when dancing. If 70s Yes does kill dancing then I should say we could try a second experiment.
You could bring in a group of Yes fans that dance. They will know the different parts of the song. They will be able to dance to it. Let’s see if this will affect the normal dancers. Will they try dancing to this more complicated music? Will they sit on the sidelines tapping their feet? They probably at least won’t boo the DJ.
Believe it or not, Yes in 1983 put out a popular 4 minute 4/4 song. The strangest thing about Owner of a Lonely Heart was that it made it to number one on the dance charts. No one could have predicted that accomplishment based on their 70s music.
The change in music for Yes between the 70s and 80s was their 1980 album. On it was a song called “Does it Really Happen?: It had a bass heavy part that in my mind is the best part of that song. The first bar was 3/4 time, the second and third bars were 4/4 time and the fourth bar was 5/4 time. It repeated this pattern over and over.
How is this different from their 70s times changes? Well it has the effect of averaging out to 4/4 time despite all the changes. I would like to see unsuspecting dancers try to dance to this part. I’m not sure if they would be able to transfer their usual moves to this song. It’s my belief that some of those moves would still work. Or would the dancers flounder and give up on that part of the song?
To find out I imagine I would have to splice together the three parts of the song that use these complex but simple time changes. The rest of the song has other more complex time changes. So I’d like to get this mashed song to a DJ that is willing to try it out as an experiment. I think these excerpts from “Does it Really Happen?” are not really more complex then dancing to Reggae. But I could be wrong. I would love it if a DJ would try my experiment.