More than Sports: The Mood Boosters

Blog by Ninja Priesterjahn:

Sometimes, when Tobias Rudig attends a side event at a Swatch Major Series tournament, nobody recognizes him. “People just walk past me,” he tells us. Indeed, the 35-year-old is one of many important crew members involved in the smooth operation of each Swatch Major Series tour stop: the DJ from Tirol is the brain behind the music which booms out of the speakers.

Many of the songs you hear on the Center Court are composed and produced by the Austrian. Together with his older brother, Florian, Tobias has been entertaining beach volleyball crowds on the FIVB World Tour for 13 years. Everything started with a cassette player in a gym, where Tobias put together his first music mix by winding the tape with a pencil. Years later, the mini disc player with 999 songs has been the measure of all things, but in the meantime, the duo, known as the Roodixx-brothers have an app with thousands of songs – now get started with one click.


New songs at the World Championships

For the World Championships in Vienna this summer, Tobias is producing some special songs. They will be a combination of classical music fitting with Vienna which will be perfectly matched with beach volleyball which Tobias believes will cast a spell over the thousands of visitors expected on Vienna’s Danube Island.

Tobias is really looking forward to the World Championships in his home country. “Playing in Austria you have a clear idea of what the people like,” he explains. In Poreč or in the USA, the music has to meet the cultural preferences. That was also why Tobias and Florian gained respect when they where hired to entertain the crowd at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the birthplace of beach volleyball last summer. “That’s like if you asked someone from the Maldives to be responsible for the Hahnenkamm downhill race in Kitzbühel,” Tobias says. Nonetheless, the brothers did a great job at Copacabana – even impressing US foreign minister John Kerry, who admired the “incredible energy” made by a packed stadium of 12,000 fans.

Music conveys emotions. “A horror movie would not work without music,” Tobias says knowingly. The idea to mix emotions with music and speech came back in 1996 when Tobias and Florian – themselves two former beach volleyball players – they were playing the German-Austrian junior tour. “I always thought what if all people could understand what is happening at a beach volleyball match, and if they would love it the way we do,” Florian says. So he and Tobias started to fill the breaks between the rallies. Nine years later, when Florian has the microphone in his hands at the Klagenfurt Grand Slam for the first time he could not believe it. “It was a Tuesday, and women’s qualification and there was hardly anyone in the stadium – but I never felt as nervous in my life before.”

“I love them, they create a great atmosphere” Karla Borger, German Beach Volleyball Player

Tears at the Fort Lauderdale Major

Nowadays you could not imagine any beach volleyball center court in the world without the sound of the Rudig brothers. “I love them, they create a great atmosphere,” Karla Borger, silver medalist at the 2013 World Championships says. On the subject of atmosphere, Tobias’ highlight so far in 2017 has been the men’s quarterfinal at Fort Lauderdale Major between Lucena/Dalhausser and Olympic champions Alison/Bruno. “It was the first time for us to play overseas and everyone told us, ‘people won’t adopt it’,” Tobias says. But it worked out and the fans loved it. “You feel great when you have the crowd under control. That happened in Fort Lauderdale and I cried, when I realized it.”

Having played as a setter, Tobias has a feeling for the game. “By now, I can watch the games peripherally. I do not have to see an ace, I hear it,” he says. Furthermore, he can empathize with the players but, most importantly, he knows their favorite songs. “Of course I play it, because that helps the players to perform.” But sometimes that isn’t always the case. “Former German national player Britta Büthe always asked for Atemlos by  Helene Fischer,” laughs Tobias. “That song, I played a little reluctantly.”

Austria expects

Florian currently presents a sports talkshow on Servus TV – but he would never dream of missing a beach volleyball tournament. “Entertaining the crowd at the tournaments is something we build ourselves. My hearts is in it and I would never swap this for anything else,” he says. Florian was also an announcer when the European Football Championships came to Austrian in 2008, but he knows that beach volleyball is most convenient sport for accompanying with entertainment and music. “The worst thing for us is if the favorite team of the crowd performs badly,” Florian says. “You try all the time to support it in a positive way, but if the performance is missing, it can be difficult.” Therefore, he and Tobias hope for great performances of the Austrian teams at the World Championships on Austrian sand.

The stadium in Vienna will be similar to the big arena in Rio – the perfect conditions for Tobias and Florian to present their favorite sport in the best possible way.

Author: Ninja Priesterjahn. Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series.