Pacing and Pauses

There’s a wanky old bag of bullshittery that often comes in discussions about jazz music with mop heads. Some nob stretch once said ‘the greatness of the jazz musician is the notes he doesn’t play’ and a load of dick stretches since then repeat it, thinking they sound like they know what they are talking about. What a load of crap. It just sounds thoughtful and mysterious, so people repeat it because they think jazz is this really intellectual art form. It’s not. It’s just fucking great music played by top drawer musicians but there is nothing highbrow about it. It’s just fucking great to drive fast to. Especially Django Rheinhardt. Driving round the Andalucian roads at speed with the roof down, your girl dressed like Audrey sitting beside you, listening to Django, is one of life’s top drawer moments. A bida bida bida a bom bom bom bad a dam dam dom dibba dibba dibba dibba dabba doo doo doop… and so on.

But in a pickup – a lot of value can be demonstrated in what you don’t say, when you don’t say, what you omit, etc. For example, we’ve all heard it said many times that if someone asks what you do for a living, if your answer is casual and doesn’t go into too much detail, then it leaves them guessing. Personally, I prefer to play it straight, as I demonstrate in my infields, I just go honest and let them know what they want. I rely on eye contact, body language and smiles to make up for what I surrender in terms of mystery. There’s no right or wrong answer. Just personal preference.

I’m not sure I heard too much about pauses though. The pauses are absolutely crucial. One of the first rules I teach is to speak slowly and leave gaps.

You see the thing you’re looking for early in a pickup is the stack. The thing that takes you from the open to the conversation. Often you have to provide the stack yourself.

So this is infield from one of my recent coaching clients which he was happy for me to share with you. Take a look at how in his first day with me I worked on his pacing and speech and take a look at the difference it made.



1 – The first set, as you can see, he talks far too quickly. He blasts her with too much adulation, too many ‘y’knows’ and most importantly he gave her no chance of having a conversation. He loses her at 00:15.

2 – This set is, though still not perfect, is much better. He may still over egg the compliment but his words are not raining down on her like hail stones. He gives her brain a moment relax and she invites him into conversation at 00:56. This set goes on for about ten minutes longer than I edited here.

3 – This final one he gets even better still. Check out the beautiful long pause around 1:38. She fills the pause by actually giving him the stack: ‘I like fresh fruit’. He then goes into cartooning her, characterising her as the girl who loves all fruit whiile she giggles along. Again, this set goes on for ten minutes longer than I edited here.

Just by slowing it down, he gives everyone time to think and the girls do his work for him. In the third set he is presented with the ideal opportunity to cartoon his target. You get a girl to buy into your playful characterisation and you’re well on your way to building that tender, playful, intimate connnection that you can then carry in to your text  conversation. Your texts are not mechanical, administrative messages to arrange a meet – they are a continuation of your fun bond and intimate experience.

It’s the pacing and the pauses that won him these later sets and one step closer to admirable game.

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