DJ Spotlight: Neil Benen

1. What is your partner dance background?
About nine years ago I walked into the back room of a funky tile shop called Sparks and it literally changed my life. The moment I entered this hot, sweaty, overcrowded venue called Friday Night Blues (FNB), I was mesmerized. That was the defining moment in my dance journey. I immediately started taking lessons from Flouer, who was running the event at the time. My association with Flouer has led to an organic progression from Blues dancing, to DJing Blues, to Fusion Dancing, and to Fusion DJing.

2. How did you discover fusion dancing?
This social partner dance called FNB was actually an intro to Fusion. The music played at that time inspired an atmosphere of intimacy and creativity (though it was not necessarily traditional Blues), and it was truly my intro to Fusion. FNB eventually followed a path toward playing traditional Blues music so that the name Friday Night Blues would reflect what the dance actually was. Because of this progression and change, I feel people became hungry for Fusion again.

3. How did you get started as a DJ?
I loved the music and discovered Spotify’s unprecedented virtually unlimited music library. I started making playlists, and I asked Flouer if I could try DJing one night. She agreed to let me DJ for the first hour of the dance. After the first hour, she asked if I would like to DJ for another hour and then another until I ended up DJing the entire night.

4. What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a fusion DJ?
Finding great music. It’s a job, but a labor of love!

5. What is different about how you listen to music as a dancer vs as a DJ?
They are virtually the same. However, as a DJ, I take into account how the songs blend together, their tempo and length and how I can edit a song to tailor it to the dance.

6. What do you love most about being a fusion DJ?
The thing I love most about Fusion is that I can basically choose any genre of music, as long as I feel it inspires a great dance. With blues, I feel the choice is a bit more limiting, though I find the soulfulness and history behind the music incredibly inspiring.

7. What’s a track you’ve discovered recently that fusion dancers will love?  
Slow Down by The Human Experience