A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 24, 2017
“Dancers count 5-6-7-8 because musicians took 1-2-3-4”

"Dancers count 5-6-7-8 because musicians took 1-2-3-4” is a saying that has been printed on an image. There are several technical answers.

“Wondering why drummers usually start songs with ‘1,2,3,4’ but dancers seem to always start routines with ‘5,6,7,8’” was posted on Twitter on January 23, 2009. “Why do musicians go ‘1 2 3 4’ and dancers go ‘5 6 7 8’?  That always bugged me” was posted on Twitter on November 17, 2009.

“I just noticed that dancers count 5-6-7-8 because musicians took 1-2-3-4” was posted on Reddit—Shower Thoughts on February 17, 2017.


Twitter
Whit Lanier‏
@vwhitson
wondering why drummers usually start songs with “1,2,3,4” but dancers seem to always start routines with “5,6,7,8.”
9:52 AM - 23 Jan 2009

Twitter
Ben Semisch‏
@BSemisch
Why do musicians go “1 2 3 4” and dancers go “5 6 7 8”?  That always bugged me.
6:56 PM - 17 Nov 2009

Twitter
Richard Smith‏
@techsupportrich
Why can’t dancers count 1 2 3 4? Musicians count 1 2 3 4. With dancers it’s all 5 6 7 8. Is 5 6 7 8 somehow better or more accurate?
3:50 PM - 26 Dec 2009

Quora
Why do dancers begin counting on beat 5?
Maurizio Mastroianni, Recreative Rhythmic Gymnast (in AG and RG gyms)
Updated Jul 17, 2016
Dancers group beats in half phrases, musician group beats in bars.

In most of the traditional 4/4 music, phrases (basic melodic or harmonic concepts) are 4 bars long and half phrases are 2 bars long, that is 2 x 4 beats = 8 beats. So dancers count 8 beat groups, in this context.

On the other hand, musicians usually count bar by bar, that is 4 beat groups in the same context.

Quora
Why do musicians count “1, 2, 3, 4”, and dancers count “5, 6, 7, 8”?
Peter J Saleh, Dance accompanist @ Juilliard School, Ailey Extention, & Joffrey. SUNY Purchase
Updated Nov 24, 2016 · Upvoted by David Leigh, I’m an opera singer at the Metropolitan Opera.
(...)
Dancers use 8, possibly also to facilitate learning longer phrases of material in one “chunk”.

Musicians use 4, possibly to allow for “chunking” while keeping it easier for the eye to take in while reading music. This is similar to how two 4-digit numbers are easier to quickly read and recite than a single 8-digit number, and why phone numbers in the United States are still broken up 123.456.7890, instead of being all run together [yes, I know about area codes and exchanges but they are increasingly archaic in practice]

Reddit—Shower Thoughts
I just noticed that dancers count 5-6-7-8 because musicians took 1-2-3-4.
submitted February 17, 2017 by averioste

Reddit—Shower Thoughts
Dancers only use 5,6,7,8 because musicians took 1,2,3,4
submitted April 4, 2017 by GreatestOfAllTime4

Reddit—AskReddit
Why do dancers always start off with “5, 6, 7, 8” instead of “1, 2, 3, 4”? (self.AskReddit)
submitted June 16, 2017 by meantia

Reddit—Shower Thoughts
How come bands use “1,2,3,4” to start but dancers use “5,6,7,8”
submitted August 25, 2017 by KyuFuzu

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Thursday, August 24, 2017 • Permalink