Topics related to DJ training, trends, set lists, advice, and general information

DJ Battle of the Bands, Third Edition

20 September 2018, Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, Austin, Texas

On March 7th, 1937, Chick Webb and His Orchestra were defeated by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. Duke’s drummer, Sonny Greer, later stated “We tore them up, man!”

But the defeat was not to last. In an epic rematch, Chick (DJ Lian) squared off against Duke (DJ Gina) LIVE (via recorded music) at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs and eked out a single vote victory over Duke. Both bands played great, reaching deep into their catalogs in an attempt to one-up the other player and entertaining the audience throughout the evening. Chick closed it out with Lindy Hopper’s Delight that culminated in a rousing jam circle!

The Winner: Chick Webb (DJ Lian)

Please enjoy the slide show that was presented with all the interesting facts for each of the bands, including a special spotlight on Ella Fitzgerald, the “first lady of song.”


References for the material:

  1. Duke Ellington – Wikipedia
  2. Duke Ellington – Official website
  3. Sonny Greer – Interview
  4. Sonny Greer – We tore them up, man!
  5. Ella Fitzgerald – Wikipedia
  6. Mary Lou Williams – Wikipedia
  7. Chick Webb – Wikipedia

A big thanks to Gina and Lian for their extraordinary DJing this evening!

Awesome Mix – 19 July 2018

As promised, we’ll be sharing set lists or highlighted songs for the various DJs from each Main Room evening. Below are the sets from the 19th of July. Please note that DJing is a skill and each set is created in real time based on the needs of the floor. The exact same songs could be played the following week, but in a different order to create a different feeling based on the dancer’s needs (not that any DJs would repeat the entire content of a set from week to week).

DJ Lian (9 to 10 PM)

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DJ Joanna (10 to 11 PM)

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DJ George (11 PM to 12 AM)


The Track Podcast

Ryan Swift is a photographer, dancer, and DJ based in NYC. He’s been dancing since 1998 and DJ’d around the world, DJing for numerous Lindy Hop exchanges, dance camps, weekend workshops, and competitions, including national events such as the International Lindy Hop ChampionshipsStompologyUltimate Lindy Hop Showdown & Frankie100, and at NYC events like Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing. He has also served as head DJ at events like LindyFest & Lindy Focus. (1) For more information about Ryan, visit his website.

He’s also been the host of Inside the Dancer’s Studio at LindyFest in which he’s asked extremely insightful questions of prominent members of the dance community, such as Dawn Hampton to top level instructors. In 2015, he launched The Track Podcast, where he does longer former interviews with musicians and dancers in the national scene today.

Definitely explore the whole catalog of episodes that are available at The Track Podcast, but I’ve highlighted a few episodes of interest to DJs and dancers below as it relates to playing music for dancers; a veritable who’s who of DJ’s and musicians in the modern scene today.  Each episode has show notes, so you can skip specific topics they cover.

Laura Windley

The Track  014 – Laura WindleyLaura Windley is the bandleader and vocalist for the Mint Julep Jazz Band, a featured band at Austin’s own Hot Rhythm Holiday. She’s been a special guest and vocalist for the Lindy Focus All Star Band, Michael Gamble’s various bands, and many others A renowned DJ in her own right, she has a deep knowledge of music and has been a DJ at events such as All Balboa Weekend, Eastern Balboa Championships, and many more. She is the author of Lindy Shopper. Here’s Laura singing Betcha Nickel at Lindy Focus in 2016 (if you have a keen eye, you’ll see former Austin resident Jonathan Doyle on the sax).

Key highlights for this episode: The whole thing!

Shana Worel

The Track 004 – Shana WorelShana Worel is a dancer, instructor, and DJ in Southern California. She’s been a featured DJ at All Balboa Weekend, Lindy Focus, California Balboa Classic, Camp Hollywood, Lindy on the Rocks, The Balboa Experiment, Rocky Mountain Balboa Blowout and many other events. Extremely well versed in music, she’s a valuable resource when it comes to playing music for Swing dancers and is more than happy to help new DJs learn (especially if that interest includes Lionel Hampton).

Key highlights for this episode:  what is the difference between music for Balboa and Lindy Hop, and a great discussion on the history of Balboa.

Jonathan Stout

The Track 008 – Jonathan Stout – Band leader, arranger, rhythm and lead guitarist, occasional drummer, dancer and DJ, Jonathan Stout is an impressive figure in Swing music. He leads the Campus Five (featuring Hilary Alexander) and The Jonathan Stout Orchestra (featuring Hilary Alexander), as well as a other projects.  Since 2015, he’s been the band leader for the Lindy Focus All Star Orchestra, a band that has produced some of the best and most energetic live music honoring the originals.  [See below for Lindy Focus Playlists (2)]

Key highlights for this episode: what makes a good song for swing dancing and a great discussion on musicality.

Josh Collazo

The Track 021 – Josh Collazo – Josh Collazo is the drummer for Jonathan Stout, the Lindy Focus All Star Orchestra, as well as a host of other bands in the Swing dance world. A band leader as well, he’s had a few projects, such as the The Feetwarmers, an LA based band; in 2015, he started the Candy Jacket Jazz band. He also is a dancer. Outside of the dance world, he plays drums for a little band called Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, a Grammy-winning and platinum-selling American rock folk band. Not only that, he is a dancer. [For an interview specifically about drumming, see below (3)]

Key highlights for this episode: the technique and music theory of what provides an authentic swing era sound, how his passion for swing dancing in the late 90s influenced his development as a drummer, and what it’s like to fill the shoes of drum legends like Gene Krupa and Chick Webb at the Lindy Focus tribute nights. (1)

Michael Gamble

The Track 015 – Michael Gamble – Asheville, NC native Michael Gamble wears many hats in the fifteen years he’s been swing dancing: Bandleader (Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, bassist, arranger, transcriber, and DJ. He also one of the co-organizers for Lindy Focus, one of the largest, best run, and preeminent dance events in the US, not just as a dance camp, but as an event that works to further the Swing dance community through providing the high level instruction, the best music (the transcription projects! more on that in a future post), and being a leader in the Safe Spaces discussion and implementation of creating a welcoming and safe place for dancers. He’s been the head DJ for Beantown, Lindy Focus and the European Swing Dance Championships, and a featured DJ at Herrang Dance CampILHC, and the Lone Star Championships, to name a few.

Key highlights for this episode: how DJs carry the responsibility for furthering jazz literacy in an era focused on live music, and the the challenges of transcribing a classic swing song (1)

Rob Moreland

The Track 010 – Rob Moreland – For fifteen years Rob Moreland has been DJing for Swing dancers around the country, DJing long-running nationally-known venues in Raleigh, LA, New York City, Washington DC, Denver and other cities; one of the featured DJs at StompologySwing Out New Hampshire, and the Nevermore Jazz Ball..  He DJed at the Basie Centennial Ball in 2004 and in 2018 continues to be the head DJ for Lindy Focus.

Key highlights for this episode: DJ mistake horror stories, the differences between DJing at large national events and local regular gigs, preparing for gigs & contest music, and advice he’d give to new and aspiring DJs

If you would like to support the podcast, please contribute via Patreon ($1, $5, and other subscription options available)


1 – Copied shamelessly from The Track Podcast “About” page

2 – Lindy Focus Video Playlists:

3 – Josh talking about the evolution of drumming and how Swing is different than other forms of music – Josh on drumming.

DJ Battle of the Bands, Second Edition

January 2018, the Syndicate held its second Battle of the Bands for another energetic night of Swing greats!

This time, Chick Webb battled Jimmie Lunceford and Andy Kirk, brought to life through the best recordings by DJ Lian, DJ Keli, and DJ George, respectively. Andy Kirk was a surprise hit, but it was a close call between Jimmie and Chick!

The winner: Chick Webb (DJ Lian)!

Please enjoy the slide show that was presented with all the interesting facts for each of the bands, including a special spotlight on Mary Lou Williams, “One of the most brilliant Jazz pianists of all time.”


First Ever DJ Battle of the Bands!

In May of 2017, three historic bands took the stage at the Fed for the Syndicate’s first ever Battle of the Bands! Chick Webb, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman squared off in a “battle royale”, winner-take-all head to head event! How was the Syndicate able to pull off such a feat? Three talented and eager DJs took the booth, presenting the best of each band through recorded music: DJ Lian presented Webb; DJ Joanna, Basis; DJ Kevin, Goodman. We’ve included the slideshow presentation with facts about each bandleader below.

The winner: Count Basie (DJ Joanna)!

Interested in Learning to DJ?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to DJ? Maybe you’re just interested in how to keep a dance party going beyond just hitting “play” on a set list, or maybe you’re curious about DJing at the Fed on Thursday nights?

If you’re a full member of the Fed, you can go through our social dance DJ program for free. You’ll be mentored by some of the strongest DJs in the country (more than a couple of our DJs have worked national and international Lindy Hop and Balboa events), and learn their tips and tricks. Plus, you’ll learn about the history of the music that inspired the dance we love and enjoy on a weekly basis.

There’s no obligation to become a DJ, but we’re always looking for new people to put into our rotation!

For more information, please contact or fill out the volunteer form and indicate you’re interested in becoming a DJ by selecting the Live Music and DJs option and we’ll get you started in our next DJ Flight School!

Volunteer Form

King Porter Stomp

If you’ve danced at the Fed in the Main Ballroom or the Uptempo Side Room (on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month), chances are you’ve heard some version of King Porter Stomp. Created and composed by Jelly Roll Morton in 1905, it was a seminal contribution to what became Swing music a few decades later. One of the most recognizable versions of the tune was the arrangement by Fletcher Henderson for Benny Goodman’s band in 1935.

NPR recently did a story about King Porter Stomp, discussing the specific musical meaning of “stomp”, and Jelly Roll Morton and his influence on Jazz, including a rare audio interview with Jelly Roll himself! Click the player below to hear the story:

Jelly Roll Morton’s original version of King Porter Stomp:

Fletcher Henderson’s arrangement of King Porter Stomp by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra:

Keep scrolling for more links about Jelly Roll Morton, King Porter Stomp, and Fletcher Henderson:

NPR Source Audio for King Porter Stomp


Swing Music 101

In 2016, the Austin Swing Syndicate invited internationally renowned DJ, Kyle Smith, to do a series of talks. Below is his keynote “What is Swing Music” (Swing Music 101). If you’re curious about the music we play at the Syndicate events, or about the history of the music, please watch the video below!

For more information about Kyle, please visit his website, EuclidsFifth or check out his podcast at  Trading Fours Podcast.

We’d also like to give Essam Osman a big thanks for providing the video services for this talk. He’s an awesome member of the community!

DJ Summit 2016

The Austin Swing Syndicate is proud to announce a special guest lecture series about Swing music, DJing, and microphone skills with the world renowned Kyle Smith! Kyle is one of the primary DJs for events such as Camp Hollywood, Inspiration Weekend, Lindy Focus, The Snowball, and is the standing head DJ for the All Balboa Weekend, Lindy on the Rocks, the California Balboa Championship, the Balboa Experiment and many more! His guest lectures at Camp Hollywood, ABW, Korea Balboa Weekend, and the Eastern Balboa Championships have inspired dancers around the world, and the Syndicate is bringing him to Austin to share his knowledge about DJing and Swing music with you!



Swing 101


6 October 2016 – 8 PM to 9 PM: Free with your entry to the dance!

Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs Art Gallery

In this one hour session, Kyle will explore the grand idea of ‘everything swing’.  Through fabulous storytelling, exciting presentation, and tons of audio, Kyle attempts to bring the golden age of swing to life! Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, Count Basie, Trad Jazz versus Swing Music, and much more!


So You Wanna DJ?


8 October 2016 – 12 to 1:50 PM :Free for Syndicate members, $25 for Syndicate non-members

Location TBA

A great class for anyone looking to become a DJ. This class focuses on getting started as a DJ, how to setup your library, basic DJ techniques, software, and most importantly, how to do it right!  Chock full of great DJ information, even helpful for those DJs who aren’t looking for their first gig.


Microphone Skills


8 October 2016 – 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Free for Syndicate members, $25 for Syndicate non-members

Same location as So You Wanna DJ

Are you a DJ? Want to be a MC?  Are you a teacher?  This class focuses on presentation skills, audience interaction, basic microphone anatomy and much more.  Kyle will be focusing on the techniques of presentation, not personal style.

For more information about Kyle, please visit