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Rare, interesting, awesome dance tracks needed!
January 19, 2012 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Accidental DJ is on deck - I need alternative/underground/indie/queer dance hits of the last decade, any genre. Help me minimize looking a fool!

So I am DJing an event (strictly amateur hour up here, though - by "DJ" I mean "play songs in an appealing sequence" not actual mixing). And it turns out to be a longer set than I thought, so my meager selection just won't cut it any more. I've been through many, many past questions tagged "music" and found some really incredibly great stuff...but I still need more.

So, mefites, what obscure, outside-the-mainstream, oddball dance hits have you danced to in the past decade or so? They can be from anywhere, pretty much any genre...the crowd likes what the kids like now, you know, sort of house-inflected stuff, bounce, that kind of thing, but I can play what I please and it's easier to find current stuff on my own than older stuff.

I'm especially interested in stuff that was played in queer/GLBTQ circles and in...oh, geez, whatever replaced "conscious" hiphop...Like, I'm going to play this Boots Riley/Galactic track, stuff like that. And what do the kids listen to at all those street party/demonstration things?

Sort of sexually explicit is okay, but not preferred (I'm kind of uptight like that, I just can't help it). Really misogynist/creepy/gross stuff is deprecated, as is intentionally or accidentally racist stuff. (Like, if I were playing eighties music I wouldn't play "Turning Japanese" or "Walk Like An Egyptian".)

Stuff I'm playing already: Yelle, Janelle Monae, Thrashing Doves, Big Freedia, Buzzcocks, Gang of Four, Liquid Liquid, Gossip, Talking Heads. Thank you, mefites!
posted by Frowner to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
just play Prince.
posted by entropone at 6:26 AM on January 19, 2012


Township Funk
Pon De Floor
Fake Blood - Mars
Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above
We Are Your Friends
Pumped Up Kicks
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lord, nearly everything the Magnetic Fields have ever released could fit in this category. If you want one, specific recommendation I'd go with I Thought You Were My Boyfriend or possibly When My Boy Walks Down The Street (although the latter isn't very dance-y.) There's also side-projects like Future Bible Heroes with tracks like Blond Adonis and the disco-y I'm A Vampire.
posted by griphus at 6:31 AM on January 19, 2012


Oh, duh, and You And Me And The Moon.

(There are the overtly-queerest of their songs I can think of off the top of my head. I am sure I missed more than a lot.)
posted by griphus at 6:33 AM on January 19, 2012


Check out MEN (JD Sampson of LeTigre)
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:34 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoops, fucked up the first link: I Thought You Were My Boyfriend.
posted by griphus at 6:34 AM on January 19, 2012


Robyn, particularly remixes of Call Your Girlfriend (e.g., but not necessarily this), and Dancing on my Own
Sia, You've Changed
Solveig and Dragonette, Hello
I also was giving heavy rotation to Studio Killer's Ode to the Bouncer
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:36 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


just play Prince

If you're going to play prince, play Erotic City.
posted by empath at 6:37 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hard Gay Mixtape

Chrissy Murderbot. So good.

I know you said no sexy talk but...Check out Cazwell, too.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:42 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Definitely you need some Hercules and Love Affair: queer band, great beat, very danceable.

Also give a listen to Ladytron and The Faint.
posted by edguardo at 7:26 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anything by Scissor Sisters or Goldfrapp
posted by radioamy at 7:28 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Hearts on Fire" by Cut Copy
posted by milk white peacock at 7:28 AM on January 19, 2012


The last few Erause and Pet Shop Boys albums have had some danceable stuff on them.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:37 AM on January 19, 2012


Special K (and others by Placebo, but that's the one that the dancefloor really went for) and pretty much anything by Scissor Sisters, Ladytron, Goldfrapp or Cut Copy went over well at the best indie queer dance night I frequented. Most of Peaches' original work probably won't suit your taste (it's raunchy) but her remixes might be worth looking into.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:37 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're going to play Placebo, that remix was a MONSTER.
posted by empath at 7:47 AM on January 19, 2012


The Presets
posted by empath at 7:48 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heartsrevolution
Balkan Beat Box
Beats Antique
Lotus
Fischerspooner
!!!
Sneaky Sound System
The Avalanches
Blockhead

there's always a dance party happening in my ipod
posted by edguardo at 7:53 AM on January 19, 2012


This is, imo, the best dance record of the past 5 years.
posted by empath at 8:01 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miss Kittin
Felix da Housecat
Scissors Sisters
Tiga
posted by empath at 8:05 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not new, but you can put this on if you need a bathroom break and it always, always, always works.
posted by empath at 8:20 AM on January 19, 2012


Le Tigre - Deceptacon (DFA remix)
posted by hydrophonic at 8:23 AM on January 19, 2012


I'm sorry for post bombing, but this music you describe is my all-time favorite.

Check out:
Big Freedia
Kid Sister
Kylie Minogue
posted by Lieber Frau at 10:06 AM on January 19, 2012


I'm a queer dance party organizer (for a very political organizing group). I don't DJ but help select DJ's to play at our parties. There are a lot of good suggestions here! Ours is a more pop-focused party so I don't have ideas for house-influenced or bounce tracks. BUT I just wanted to pop in here and give a couple hints on the fine art of DJ'ing.

1. Have some "pee tracks" that are long enough and popular enough that you can walk away from the booth. Newbies often forget this.

2. Play Robyn. She's universally loved right now, and really is the bridge between the tastes of gay men, lesbians, and political queers.

3. If you are DJ'ing in that hotspot period (when the crowd really wants to dance but is not super trashed yet) be flexible. Cut a song after 1 chorus if people start to empty out. This is something newbies often have trouble with, they will try to stick it out for the entirety of the song (because they like that track, or they get nervous, or they think it's "wrong" to cut the song early). Just cut it. Remember that you can't dictate to the crowd, sometimes a track just bombs. Throw on Robyn or Le Tigre to fill up the dance floor again and just pretend nothing happened.

4. As the night progresses, you should get more ridiculous. Every political queer music snob has a secret soft spot for some Rihanna, Beyonce, Britney, Mariah (if they're older), Whitney (gay men), Missy Elliot (lesbians), or dance remixes of Adele (younger crowds). Have some of these to fall back on towards the end, because when people get trashed their music taste tends to go out the window. You might get requests for this stuff.

a couple song ideas:

-Check HypeMachine for dance remixes of non-mainstream music like Grizzly Bear or whatever's hot on pitchfork right now.
-The closest thing to "conscious hip-hop" that I can think of is something like MIA. Galang or Paper Planes.
-La Roux hasn't been mentioned yet, she's queer and dancey
-The Knife, Heartbeats (good song for end of night/hookup time)
-Santigold, Big Mouth
-People MIGHT be really into this? Depending on your sense of humour.

Good luck! MeMail me if you have specific questions for me.
posted by 100kb at 10:08 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Moonlight Matters remix of Adele is literally the best thing.
posted by empath at 10:11 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are DJ'ing in that hotspot period (when the crowd really wants to dance but is not super trashed yet) be flexible. Cut a song after 1 chorus if people start to empty out. This is something newbies often have trouble with, they will try to stick it out for the entirety of the song (because they like that track, or they get nervous, or they think it's "wrong" to cut the song early). Just cut it. Remember that you can't dictate to the crowd, sometimes a track just bombs.

I'll just add to this -- if you're 100% sure it's a good song, try it again later. Sometimes you just played it at the wrong time. Sometimes you have to play a song 2 or 3 times before it clicks...
posted by empath at 10:13 AM on January 19, 2012


Oh man, I used to do EXACTLY THIS at my brother-in-law's house. He'd have small dance parties in his basement, of around 20 or people. Towards the end I ended up playing some music and had pretty good success with the following tracks:

"Too Young" by Phoenix

"Other Girls" by Tigercity

"Hot Mess" by Chromeo

"All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem

"Love Vibration" by Josh Rouse

Lastly, its not from the last decade, and I bet you already know this, but pretty much ANYTHING by Michael Jackson will ensure that people get their booties shakin'. This is particularly true with the track "P.Y.T." Its most definitely a dance floor DJ cliche, but it is for good reason. Sorry to all the mefites now dancing in their office chairs from clicking that link.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 10:19 AM on January 19, 2012


I absolutely love this one:

Goldtrix presents Andrea Brown "It's Love (Trippin)"

Very hard to find a decent version on YouTube, unfortunately.
posted by Dragonness at 11:09 AM on January 19, 2012


opinions vary on whether or not it's funky enough but i'm partial to dancing to califone's two sisters drunk on each other.
posted by entropone at 12:23 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, mefites! This looks like you may have solved my DJ quandary. And thanks for the tips, 100kb and empath. That part about the mood and cutting songs off is really helpful - I've cut things short in the past, but always with a vaguely guilty feeling...
posted by Frowner at 3:57 PM on January 19, 2012


And a follow-up: my initial co-DJ came through after all, so I had less time to cover than anticipated. Also, when you have a failure of technology, the "crossfade" function on iTunes isn't actually as bad as you might think.

And what really gets the kids today onto the dancefloor? Was it Lesbians On Ecstasy with Big Freedia doing "She Like To Party"? Was it Janelle Monae's irresistible "Tightrope"? Was it Hercules and Love Affair?

No, it was Canada's answer to Vanilla Ice, Snow, and the deathless nineties hit "Informer". Which honestly is pretty fun to dance to, and Snow seems to be a nicer person than many a white reggae musician.

I also recommend La Roux and "Bulletproof", which has a really, really big sound.

Anyway, I went into this whole thing with a lot more confidence thanks to music from Mefi...and the knowledge that I had that 15 minute version of "I Feel Love" if everything really went pear-shaped.

It turned out to be an absolutely fabulous evening with great sets from the other DJs, an amazing mix of radical crowds and a lot of money raised.
posted by Frowner at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2012


No, it was Canada's answer to Vanilla Ice, Snow, and the deathless nineties hit "Informer". Which honestly is pretty fun to dance to, and Snow seems to be a nicer person than many a white reggae musician.

I add, much later, that on further reflection I think it's pretty screwed up to play "Informer" and urge anyone reading this not to play it. The song was, I think, recorded in a fairly innocent way - Snow seems to be an okay white guy with real ties to black reggae musicians, the story in the song is something that actually happened to him - but it is not okay for white folks to sing in " black" vernaculars, and it easily tips over into minstrelry. It's a song I regret playing and if you play it you will probably strike at least some of your audience as ignorant and white privilege-y.

Once I figured out that I'd been dumb about this, I have decided to educate myself more about music by musicians of color, both by reading various things (Can't Stop, Won't Stop) and so on and by doing some reflection on music, race, community, rhetoric.

If you're looking for great songs to play instead of "Informer", I guarantee that Santigold's "Disparate Youth" or "Go" will be more effective on the dancefloor and are really great songs to boot.
posted by Frowner at 8:32 AM on July 13, 2012


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