From your dad’s daggy moves to conga lines and The Nutbush, the dance floor plays a big part in most wedding receptions.
With that said, you might be feeling the pressure to get your dance floor playlist just right. How do you know which tracks to play? Will everyone love a vintage J.Lo tribute as much as you? Any d-floor soundtrack is a balance of classic crowd-pleasers and Top 40 tunes. But you’ll also need to take into account the vibe of the room, because there’s no point spinning a Celine Dion ballad if everyone is looking to cut a rug. We couldn’t think of anyone who knows more about this balance than the professionals, so we asked a world-class band and a top-notch DJ to share their know-how and dish on a couple of their guaranteed dance-floor fillers.
It's not just up to you
Good news: having a band or DJ play at the reception means the pressure of delivering a killer playlist doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. “Choosing a band that has the skills to read the crowd and play the most appropriate song in the heat of the moment to get everyone up and dancing is essential for a great party,” explains Nick Wilkins, a key musician from Baker Boys Band. “A band that knows what you want without you needing to choose every song. A band that will transform your handful of suggestions into a night of party music that leaves your feet sore and happy!” Being able to read the room should be one of your band or DJ’s top strengths. It’s a skill that'll come in handy for knowing when to play Beyoncé, the moments that call for John Farnham, and why some Kanye tracks are best left until after your older guests have gone home.
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Which one is best? We find out.
Over-preparation could be a mood killer
It’s almost impossible to create a playlist where each of your guests will love every song. Even Nick admits that preempting what people will like and what they'll dance to can be difficult. “When we perform at a wedding, we’re not just playing to a small group of friends with the same musical tastes,” he explains. “We’re playing to the most important people in the bride and groom’s lives: family and friends spanning a broad range of ages, dance floor inhibitions and musical tastes.” What does that mean for you? Avoid bombarding your band or DJ with a lengthy must-play list. Giving suggestions of what you do and don’t like is helpful, but a hard-and-fast list of tracks means your band or DJ won’t be able to take requests or read the dance floor. Of course, if there are songs that absolutely have to be played then let your musicians know, but remember to be flexible.
Giving suggestions of what you do and don’t like is helpful, but a hard-and-fast list of tracks means your band or DJ won’t be able to take requests or read the dance floor.
Avoid the same-same tunes
Having an iPod that’s a mix of just one genre or artist is great for pottering around the house or running on the treadmill, but it might wear thin pretty quickly when played on a continual loop at your reception. “If you’re using an iPod at your reception, make sure you provide for everyone,” explains Bruce Harrison, a Melbourne-based DJ. “Also, don’t jump from one genre to another too quickly. Grandma will love a bit of Elvis but won’t stick around for long if something by Eminem or Macklemore is the next song played.” Asking your guests for song suggestions is also a great way of making sure there is something for everyone. Have your guests submit their songs with their RSVPs or via your wedding website if you have one. This will make sure your guests get up and boogie when they hear their track, while still giving the band or DJ room to do what they do best. Bruce recommends a list of 20 or 30 bands, artists or songs.
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Ideas for traditional, modern and surprising tunes.
The tried-and-tested tracks
Do you really think we’d leave you without some must-play tracks? Of course not! These tunes come endorsed by Nick, Bruce and our dancing shoes…
- "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie
- "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen
- "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
- "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston
- "Pony" by Genuwine
- "Happy" by Pharrell Williams
- "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
- "Uptown Funk ft Bruno Mars" by Mark Ronson
- "Hey Ya" by Outcast
- "Crazy in Love" by Beyoncé
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