Very Loud Music in Salsa Clubs

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by SalsaTO, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. SalsaTO

    SalsaTO Son Montuno

    SalsaTO.ca is wondering why Latin DJs play the music so friggin' loud and distort the sound so much that his his trouser legs vibrate in that sonic boom and why his ears ring for days - even with hearing protection? Any answers out there or is everyone else deaf too?

    Are the DJs so hearing impaired they have to crank it up loud so they themselves can hear it? Or is this something peculiar to the Salsa scene?

    Looking for opinions and observations folks!

    Let's 'hear' about your hearing experiences in the clubs people! Good, bad, ugly, distorted, deafening or quiet..

    I went to a UofT Faculty of Music in Toronto Thursday evening before a latin event and marvelled about the music and the nuances that filled a hall without blasting me out onto the street. And this was a percussion recital too!

    The latin event later in the evening left my head ringing like a bell and two days later, my hearing is 'dull.' I'm having to ask people to say things again as I am not picking up their voice the first time around... And I wore hearing protection that night too.

    Any promoters want to weigh in on this... Would like to 'hear' from more DJs and even some musicians. Speak up so we can 'hear.'
    #1
  2. SalseraRita

    SalseraRita Son Montuno

    I haven't had problems with the music being too loud. However, in my scene we sometimes have the opposite problem - the music is too quiet. Because some of our salsa nights are held in a lounge-type business, the workers don't let the dj put the music on loud enough, instead they want it to be sort of ambient music. :roll: As a result, the dancers have trouble hearing the beat, especially the changes in the music. I'd say that's much worse. In clubs though, the music is usually normal, not too loud at all. I guess it all depends on the dj and the owners of the place. :cool:
  3. Nicole_de_reve

    Nicole_de_reve Son Montuno

    I always find the music too loud. The first time I went to a club I actually had earplugs in. I soon realized that wouldn't work as the leads kept trying to talk to me, and I couldn't hear them either.

    After three years of salsa dancing, I have measurable hearing loss. And I am only 22!! Please help minimize this if it is at all under your control.
  4. ajohnson4

    ajohnson4 Son


    I second the notion that the music is too loud as salsa clubs. At practice or at lessons, the music is loud enough that we can enjoy it yet we can still hear the instructor speak via the microphone or we can talk to each other if we are close enough without having to scream in each others ears.

    At certain salsa clubs, I find sign language is used as much as verbal language for communication because of the music being as loud as a sonic boom. I once asked a DJ why the music is so loud and he said "yo sista, if da music is any softa, people be complaining, you get?" which I translate to "some people are requesting the volume be cranked as loud as possible."

    The good news is, there are some salsa clubs that aren't so loud as Rita can attest to!
  5. salsamarty

    salsamarty Rhythm Deputy

    My wife and I got earplugs from an audiologist at a local hospital. They decrease the sound level uniformly by 25 db. They can interfere some with conversations but I would rather miss some chit chat than endure ringing in my ears. The sound level is loud enough in our clubs that the ear plugs are worth it.

    The sound level at the San Francisco Salsa Congress evening sessions were ridiculously loud and distorted. It was very frustrating because the musicians are excellent if you could only listen. It hasn't been this way every year but 2009 was really bad.
  6. kerry.alder

    kerry.alder Sonero

    For work, I am sometimes required to travel and when I travel, I try my best to check out the local salsa scene. From my limited experience (there are a lot of countries I have yet to visit) this is what I have experienced so far. 75% of places have the music blasting at too high a volume with certain places having it so loud, the walls shake. 25% of places have it at a level where when within proximity of another person, you can hold a conversation.

    I wear industrial strength ear plugs if I discover the place has audio at an uncomfortably high volume. My long hair covers my ears so no one usually knows I have them on unless they try to talk to me. Even if they try to talk to me, they sometimes believe the lack of understanding is due to interference from the loud audio system although an interesting skill I have learned to pick up is reading lips :friend:

    Do a lot of others use ear covers for protection as well?
  7. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    I absolutely recommend carrying earplugs and getting used to communicating with them in. I used to carry the cheap foam ones in regular clubs before I danced salsa and if someone wanted to communicate I used to just cup a hand over one ear and get them to shout... they would be shouting anyway because of the volume levels in the club. There's a feeling of isolation when wearing ear plugs that takes some getting used to but it's well worth it.

    I'm used to salsa clubs being quieter than regular clubs but have occasionally found places to be too loud, or found myself socializing with a crowd of people who are right in front of a huge speaker.

    In my salsa band I play two huge loud cowbells and have a trumpet and trombone right by my ear. I gave myself tinnitus one weekend (which had three sustained drumming sessions in it) which is mild but permanent. On reading up about that, I learned that 1 in 4 musicians has impaired hearing... but knowing that still probably wouldn't have saved me from tinnitus because it's one of those things that "happens to other people".

    Even prior to getting that I had some upscale earplugs that I got from a world drumming shop. They were less socially isolating --- better for communication --- than the foam ones, but had little handles that stuck out of my ears and drew some funny looks and references. It never ceases to amaze me how we prioritize social ridicule over scientific fact in so many things...

    Finally, last week I got some impressions made to have some proper musicians' ear plugs made. Hopefully with those I will have protection from worsening my tinnitus whilst also having reasonable communication abilities and won't have little handles sticking out my ears! The three types of ear plugs ar exponentially more expensive though. In UK prices it's something like

    foam: £5
    reusable: £30
    moulded: £160
  8. chrisk

    chrisk Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm also regularly experience the issue of the music being too loud, when I got out, either locally or to an event somewhere. At first I ignored the issue, but when I then sometimes noticed a temporary tinnitus afterward or the next day, I decided to get some hearing protection. I first consulted three different audiologist about what hearing protection is available and which would suit my needs best. In the end I decided to get some specifically molded plugs with a special -15db filter (Elacin ER FlexComfort), although they cost quite a lot about 200,- Euros. But they include the possibility of replacing the -15db filter with a -25 db filter for some additional Euros, like salsamarty has. But so far I found the -15 db filter to be enough for my ears.

    It took me some time to get used to wearing them when going out as I'm locally was the only wear to wear some. But once I noted how they feel comfortable and allow me to dance as well as having a quick word with some people, I would start wearing them whenever they music was too loud in my ears. So, you won't fit me these days without any hearing protection, except if the music is surprisingly low.

    Additionally I have to add that it's not easy as DJ to keep the music at lower level. Lately I did some DJing, when one of our DJs sometimes when abroad, and always tried to keep the volume at a reasonable level. But nearly every time people asked me to increase the volume to the point, where it starts to hurt your ears. Thankfully the last two times this happened, I could refrain from turning the music up to the rules that I was given by the owner.

    So it seems to me like there's a majority of people who want to hear the music with an incredible loud volume. Therefor people, like me, who want to protect their ears from any damage, have to invest in some good hearing protection.
  9. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander

    I have always been using earplugs for at least for the last 7-8 years or so. So I don't even know when the music is too loud. I have no problem hearing a close-by conversation with my ear plugs. Its actually easier. It has something to do with the tuning hairs in the ears. Thats what Daniel Levitin wrote in his book 'This Is Your Brain on Music'.

    As to why the DJs or bands play really loud ? I think they buy into the theory that loud sounds stimulate more than quiet sounds. Since people are still attending with or without earplugs the sound people cannot be proven wrong. An empty house would prove them wrong.

    The musicians and DJs rarely suffer hearing loss as they may/should be using the expensive professional hearing protection that cost around $200 per set.
  10. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca Capitán Del Estilo

    DJ playing the music too loud - a sign of a lack of professionalism. There's an easy way to prevent or solve the problem - just go on the dancefloor and see how it sounds, then adjust as necessary (and whilst you're there get the tops and bottoms right as well please). It's not rocket science.

    It happens to us all occasionally, it's the repeat offenders who annoy.
  11. SalsaTO

    SalsaTO Son Montuno

    Outrageously Loud Music in Salsa Clubs

    Awlright! Now we know the scene in North America and in GB at least is notoriously loud.

    Are there any venue managers, promoters or owners who want to weigh in? We've heard from your patrons, now, let's hear it from the horse's mouth.

    I have yet to see a DJ wear any sort of hearing protection, and those expensive headphones are usually plugged into another music track that is blasting away.

    Was at a live salsa band show last night. At least two of the musicians, the keyboardist and the drummer wore hearing protection. The keyboardist was seated ahead of the drummer and literally right below two trombonists. At least the some of the musicians are protecting themselves.

    While we're waiting, why not visit the site below and take an online hearing test. Find out much you hearing you have lost. Perhaps that will push someone to save what hearing they have left. Not an audiologist's office, but a good start.

    http://www.freehearingtest.ca/index_flash.html
  12. redsalsero

    redsalsero Sonero

    this reminds me of last nights dancing @ my town.
    i think Some Dj's play music so loud because all boxes are concentrated at one place. when your close to the boxes i can imagine you feeling the sonic booms and exp the music so loud. i know because i sat on one of those boxes.
    now the place is pretty big so you can dance everywhere. but at the far back the music becomes less louder. i didnt enjoy the music with lots of space to dance. and i wouldnt enjoy the music with so lil space.

    but yeah still doesnt explain djs playing music so loud even when the place is smaller.
  13. UnlikelySalsero

    UnlikelySalsero Rhythm Deputy

    As a rule, all clubs are dangerously loud! At least that is what you should assume. There is one exception in LA that I've found so far, and I'm sure there are a few out there, but that's NOT the norm.

    It's even the same for some classes at studios (hip-hop and some jazz classes come to mind.)

    I have worn musicians grade, custom ear-plugs for around 4 years now. You can have conversations and wear them for hours at a time without an issue. One of the best investments of my dance life.

    I'm an extremest in terms of music quality. A few years ago I purchased a "Sound Level Meter" to help with setting up my surround sound system. The meter allows you to measure the sound volume (db) and with the proper test tones, you can tune a system for a specific area of the room.

    I took the meter to one of my favorite clubs and was blown away. The meter was registering 101 to 117 db while the band was playing. Once you cross the 100 db sound level, "safe" exposure starts getting measured in minutes rather than hours. At 115 db the hearing experts say you shouldn't have more than 2 minutes PER WEEK of exposure.

    (www. etymotic.com/ephp/erme-ihp.aspx for an exposure chart)

    The thing that surprised me was this was NOT the loudest band that plays there... I thought of them as "moderate" or "low" in terms of overall volume.

    (I am starting to measure a few clubs, as research for an article I'm writing on this exact topic.)

    [PLUG ALERT!!!]

    I wrote about ear protection in two articles, both written a couple years ago.

    Check these out:
    www. unlikelysalsero.com/2007/04/practicing-safe-salsa-ear-protection.html

    www. unlikelysalsero.com/2008/01/darned-adults-music-too-loud.html

    In my mind EVERYBODY should be wearing ear protection. In theory the clubs should turn things down a bit, but that won't happen.

    Take matters into your own hands, at least get the quality plugs for musicians that are under $20. Available at most music stores or on-line (see blog articles for links).

    The cheap foam ones are designed to block sound, not just cut the volume. They make it tough to have conversations because they don't block all frequencies evenly. You don't care if you are blocking a jackhammer from damaging your ears, you just want less volume even if the sound is changed.

    Musicians want sound volume reduced, but want minimum sound change. Plugs designed for them are much higher quality and perfect for dancers.

    When you are ready, invest in yourself and get the custom plugs. You'll keep them years and you can have conversations without removing them.

    Don't expect the DJ's or clubs to change.
  14. UnlikelySalsero

    UnlikelySalsero Rhythm Deputy

    I don't mean to be a pessimist, but as long as the club is full, they have little reason to change.

    Few people realize the damage because it takes months/years to be obvious. Since most people aren't wearing hearing protection, others assume it's safe.

    Few pay attention to me because I'm older, and the younger ones often don't believe it will happen to them.

    I never say anything unless I'm asked, and every once in a while someone notices my earplugs and inquires. But they generally take months or more beyond that point before they get their own.

    Almost nobody leaves a club because it's too loud. Few people stop going to a club because it's too loud. Even if the crowd got smaller, clubs would rarely believe it's because the music was too loud. The Hip-hop clubs are packed, and they are even louder than most salsa clubs.

    As long as everybody appears to be having a good time, the few people who complain are ignored.
  15. miranda

    miranda Son Montuno

    I am not a DJ, event promoter or a venue owner. I am an instructor though. When I teach, I usually keep the volume at a moderate level so I can communicate with my students orally. With my beginner students, we are often counting out loud, as in 1-2-3-4. However, I often get asked by students to turn up the volume of the music so they can "feel" the music. That is why some people like the volume as loud as that of a chainsaw.

    Like many, I too use foam ear protection at clubs as I find it very necessary. Now I know the clubs in Argentina are not alone in being too loud. North America and Great Britain is the same. Do any countries have salsa clubs with decent volume levels?
  16. SalseraRita

    SalseraRita Son Montuno

    This is true. I actually have stopped going to non-salsa clubs in my town because the music is far too loud and it gives me a headache. :(

    Until now I never realized this is also a problem in salsa clubs around the world. Like I said before, we don't have that problem in salsa clubs in my town, and from all the festivals around Europe that I've been to, I've never heard music being played too loud. Then again, I avoid dancing/hanging out near the speakers.
  17. Salsa Bear

    Salsa Bear Sabor Ambassador

    Ditto. The music's ALWAYS too loud for me, though it's often not too bad. The worst was a recent celebration of the Dominican Republic's independence that I attended. At the beginning of the event, they were BLARING merengue, though they turned down the volume when more people began arriving.

    The noise level is one more reason I'm thinking of ditching the club scene for ballroom dancing.
  18. ShineGuy

    ShineGuy Son Montuno

    Clubs are loud in Toronto too. I thought that was the norm but now that you mention it, I like my ears and would like to continue hearing. Funny enough, its loud everywhere with the exception of the Sunday Social. Ever since their new DJ I actually thought the volume was "too low." But now that I put it in perspective, maybe that's how it's supposed to sound like. I sometimes see him walking around the dance floor and just stopping on a spot. I thought it he was crazy looking up into space, I guess he was just checking the sound.
  19. Offbeat

    Offbeat Clave Commander

    Thanks for bringing up this topic.

    I think just as they have a regulation banning smoking in public places like clubs, they should have a regulation prescribing maximum permissible sound levels in public entertainment places. Other than that I don't see this problem being solved. Most clubs I have gone (non-salsa being worst offenders) have the music blaring way too loud.

    Totally agree about the clubs. They are really loud. I have given up on the clubs ever bringing down volume to reasonable levels.

    I never seen Salsamarty without ear plugs.

    It has never worked telling DJs that the volume is too loud. I can think of only one DJ that is responsive to that complaint.

    I taken hearing tests and my hearing is normal. Yet I have a very hard time listening in crowded environment, especially with loud music going. I am always amazed as to how others are able to have conversation. Either I am too lazy to concentrate on listening when there is a background noise with music added to it or suffer from some strange hearing problem :)
  20. UnlikelySalsero

    UnlikelySalsero Rhythm Deputy

    BTW - The brand that are referenced in my blog article allow you to change the filter. That allows you to decide on 9, 15 or 25 db of sound reduction. (If you have the additional filters.)

    Personally I like the 15 db, because it's enough reduction for me AND I can still have conversations with the plugs in. I found the filters online for around $20 each...

    Here are the filters for my plugs:
    store.microsonic-inc.com/901-er-15attenuators.aspx

    Maybe something similar is available for yours. (Maybe the same site?)

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