This past Wednesday (5/6/15) I was the DJ for Chicago's Dance Dance Party Party (aka DDPP, or when I'm extremely lazy, which is often, I call DDP). I made my mix one long mp3 which you can stream or download here so you can groove on it at your leisure. I find that not only are my mixes composed of songs I want to dance to, I also enjoy running to my mixes as well -- as much as I can say I enjoy running, which is, not a lot, but good music makes a task I don't like doing (running) infinitely better.
What I am finding is that there are some songs that are good dance songs that are also good running songs, but this is not always true that every song that is good for one is good for the other. By and large I have found that I enjoy strutting down the street to Johnny Marr's solo albums but dancing to them is difficult. This is not surprising to me; I read an interview with him where he said something to the effect that he writes songs that people will feel cool when they're strutting down the street listening to them, which I can totally see. I tried to put his amazing song Generate! Generate! on a trial DDPP playlist. It got high marks for when I was listening to it out running down the street (feeling cool, of course), but in the privacy of my own bedroom, it didn't pass the dance test (so it didn't end up in the dance mix). That is, it was a challenge figuring out how one dances to it. However, one can jump up and down on the bed to it, so it passed the Jump Up and Down On the Bed test with flying colors. I should mention though, that a diploma from that particular university (Jump Up and Down On the Bed U) is pretty useless in the rest of the world.
A good way to figure out the potential success of a song in a dance environment is if I can easily figure out how to dance to it. If I can't dance to it, it doesn't go on the playlist. I will admit that often I am heartbroken because a particular tune will be a great song, but it doesn't pass the dance test. It breaks my heart when I realize that it will have to go on some other non-dancing mix for a later time. Maybe it will have to be for running only. Killing my darlings! And by darlings I mean, songs I can in no way assume any ownership over writing whatsoever but hope that I, in sharing that I like them with the rest of the world in a personalized and curated context, will communicate my superior taste and skill, which, now that I think about it, is pretty teenager-y of me.
One final note: I constructed a sound collage that made me chuckle for my first song (the warm up song where you stretch out, not quite moving and grooving just yet), inspired by a particular trend I noticed in contemporary music. It's a montage of parts from songs where they tell you to raise your hands in the air. Sometimes they command you wave them around (like you just don't care), sometimes they demand that you merely raise your hands up, sometimes they want you to throw them in the air. Listening to this collage I made later, I thought, hmmmm, this sounds like something the guy from the Evolution Control Committee would do, which I thought was pretty awesome. That montage? Three fucking minutes long. You're welcome.