The $20 DJ—Shana Worel

In this series, we’ll be asking a challenging question to a variety of DJs to address a common situation for those just starting out.

Say you want to start DJing, but you have no swing music in your library. You have $20 to buy 20 songs online, and you want to have enough variety to do a great 30 minute set to get your feet wet. Which songs would you choose to spend your money on?

How I approached this:
I approached this from the point of view of having healthy proportions of different types of songs. I’m aiming at a dance with primarily Lindy Hoppers with a few that might do Balboa or Collegiate Shag. I want most of the songs to be in a comfortable tempo and style range, with a few exceptions for specific purposes.

My breakdown:
9 in-the-pocket solid swing-era (or swing-era style) songs, 125-170 BPM
5 songs not quite in the swing era, but still great for swing dancing
1 birthday jam song
2 solo jazz dance songs
2 faster songs, ~190 BPM
1 slower song ~110 BPM

My songs:
9 in-the-pocket solid swing-era songs, 125-170 BPM:
A Smo-o-o-oth One – Benny Goodman Sextet
Afternoon of a Moax (Shake, Rattle ‘n’ Roll) – Charlie Barnet
He Ain’t Got Rhythm – Benny Goodman
Jump Session – Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart
720 In The Books – Jan Savitt
Peckin – Duke Ellington
One O’clock Jump – Count Basie
Wham – Glenn Miller (My favorite version is from The Missing Chapters Vol. 3, which isn’t available online at the moment)
Stealin’ Apples – Fletcher Henderson
5 songs not quite in the swing era, but still great for swing dancing:
Hop Skip And Jump – Artie Shaw & His Gramercy Five
Shufflin’ And Rollin’ – Buddy Johnson
Hallelujah, I Love Her So – Count Basie
Drop Me Off At Harlem – Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong
Now You Has Jazz – Louis Armstrong
1 birthday jam song:
Cole Slaw (Sorghum Switch) – Jesse Stone
2 solo jazz dance songs:
T’ain’t What You Do – Billy May (For Shim Sham)
Dipsy Doodle – Ella Fitzgerald (For Tranky Doo)
2 faster songs, ~190 BPM:
Lindyhopper’s Delight – Chick Webb
Flying Home (or Flying Home, No. 2) – Lionel Hampton
1 slower song ~110 BPM:
Your Feet’s Too Big – Fats Waller

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