Lindsey Sparks USA dives to strike the ball during the Semi-final match between Italy ITA and United States USA in the Beach Volleyball Womens Tournament at the Beach Volleyball Arena, Green Park during The Youth Olympic Games, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday 16th October 2018. Photo: Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

Funky soundtrack creates party vibe at beach volleyball competition

BUENOS AIRES — The roar of the crowd and the uplifting beats of the DJ have created a party-like atmosphere at the Beach Volleyball venue during the Youth Olympic Games.

While the youthful crowd is clapping their hands and stomping their feet to Shakira’s ‘Loca’ and Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, Spanish music director Tony Rojas is scrolling through his playlist to decide which song should be blasted out of the speakers next.

“Most of the people in attendance are Latin, so they love music and know the lyrics of every song we play,” Rojas said.

With 27 years of experience working for the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) at beach volleyball tournaments across the world, Rojas is an expert in entertaining the crowd and the athletes.

“The organization of the Youth Olympic Games called me to ask if I wanted to be their musical director and here I am,” he said. “But I do not only act as a DJ during beach volleyball matches, as I am also responsible for the playlists at all the other venues and sports.”
The crowd celebrate during the Beach Volleyball Women’s Tournament at The Youth Olympic Games, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday 7th October 2018. Photo: Florian Eisele for OIS/IOC. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

In much the same way as athletes train to compete at the Games, Rojas spent months of preparation selecting play lists.

“We have had to listen to hours and hours of music to make sure the songs did not contain any bad language,” Rojas said. “By now we have made several playlists that could go on for an entire week, continuously. The public want to hear a variety of music and therefore we play a lot of different styles like house, funk and Latin.”

Rojas said he selects songs to fit the moment and the mood — with artists such as Flo Rida and David Guetta setting the vibe.

“Especially when the athletes are feeling either happy or sad, or when the crowd just want to stand up and sing,’’ he said.

Beach volleyball and music go hand-in-hand. The phrase “Please be quiet” is rarely uttered by a referee during any match. Not only does the music keep the fans on their feet, it also motivates the athletes.

“For me, celebrating and dancing to the music helps me to stay calm,” said Swedish beach volleyball player David Ahman after his team’s 2–0 victory over Hungary in the semi-finals. “It allows me to let go of my energy. The crowd has been loud and supportive as well. It is something I appreciate.”

Rojas is already planning his music selection for Wednesday’s finals between Sweden and the Netherlands in the men’s event and Russia against Italy in the women’s.

“We will go all-in with the music to create an incredible atmosphere,” Rojas said. “For the presentation of the athletes, we will be using special songs that have been selected specifically for the final. It will be amazing.”
Story by IOC Young Reporter Jeroen Adriaanse