WHERE a song is played or INTENDED to be HEARD – and possibly DANCED to – tends to affect its structural composition – catering to the expected acoustics as much as the audience.
There are often recognizable difference in songs MEANT to be heard (and danced to) outside in a grass meadow, or in an open plaza, or on a city street, or in a sports stadium, and those inside a concert hall, or in a crowded tavern, or in an elevator, or on a car radio, or on an iPod. I’m not a musician or song writer so can’t really explain what specially changes how but do know that different music is INTENDED for and better FITS different types of venues and (listening and dancing) environments or conditions.
It is not just tempo or differences in rhythm and instrumentation or what lyrics, if any, focus on, that tends to make each dance style better “fit” some music better than others. A dance that is bouncy needs music that is bouncy and a song that is smooth needs music that is smooth. And there is a reason that some dances travel (either around the room or back and forth) while others stay basically in the same place or circle one way more than the other.
There is music and there is dance and the names and definitions people use for them are not only just made up but also not really needed – at all. People can and often do dance differently to the same music. There is NO “correct” way to do so – other than that whatever is done has some consistent connection to what is heard (and with one’s partner if dancing together).
While music and movements CAN be numbered, dancers should be moving to SOUNDS heard rather than simply numbers. TIMING can depend upon which instrument or rhythm is listened to and matched. It is possible to dance (which is MUCH more than just stepping) on/to almost ANY “count” – as long as it is consistent – and there should be NO “count” that is NOT danced (in some way) – even when it is a “rest” when instruments and singers are “quiet”/”silent”.
Most songs have more than just one single continuous rhythm that never changes – and within any named style there are also many songs that sound quite different from each other. SO, there is NOT just ONE way of dancing even to a single song all the way through, let alone to different songs of the same “genre”. And it is VERY common for different people even from the same place as where the music “originated” to dance differently to it.
IF you are dancing ALONE, you can do whatever you want.
If you are the FOLLOWER, it is the LEADER who chooses HOW to dance to the music playing – and what direction you two go and what patterns you do when (within limits of each of your abilities, and the interpretation of what is heard – and the space available).
People do NOT all dance the same – even when they are from the same place – so there is NO reason that you could NOT dance however you prefer EXCEPT if that means no one else is able to dance with you OR you get in the way of others dancing differently.
MOST of what people call different kinds of music and how people dance to it is NOT really whatever it is called – AND the names also usually refer to more than one thing.
The CHARACTER(ISTICS) of any style of music and dance style are what make it distinct and recognizable. One of the main reasons for controversy regarding fusions is that it is often NOT distinct or recognizable – from other (similar) fusions.
The most common fusion for “urban” dance styles seems to be considered Modern R&B – code for “urban contemporary” rather than authentic Rhythm & Blues – and so how people dance tends to be more and more the same no matter what style of dance they claim to be doing.
Many of the currently popular URBAN (nightclub) dance styles are danced to slower music than the music that preceded it. Kizomba is usually danced to slower or more fusion-type songs than Semba; Salsa danced in a slot (especially “On2”) is usually danced to slower or more fusion-type songs than Casino or Son; Bachata danced outside of the Dominican Republic is usually dance to slower and more fusion-type songs than what is usually regarded as Traditional; West Coast Swing is usually danced to slower and more fusion-type songs than Jitterbug or Jive or Lindy or most other styles of “Swing”. There are many other examples.
Music often adapts to who it is meant for and dance also adapts for the music heard – which then becomes written and played for that type of dancing (style and venue).
© 2016, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.