You don’t need the ‘YMCA’ to get people dancing!

When I was trying to come up with a new topic for my next blog, I started thinking about the music that I’ve heard played at “typical” weddings.  No sooner did I start brainstorming did I have a meeting with a potential client that asked me a question I always answer honestly, but never really sat and comtemplated the actual importanct.  His question was, “What are the songs you play at EVERY wedding?”

If you have read the blogs I’ve posted previously, you have gotten at least a sense of the fact that I view each wedding as its own, unique experience specifically designed and created around the subject of the event, be it a bride and groom, company, the child the Bar or Bat  Mizvah is for, etc.  This means, though it is a safe bet that, for a time, a number of the current “popular” songs will be played, there are no typical songs, because the tastes of each person will vary, sometimes dramatically from one event to the next.  As an example, I DJed a wedding this past weekend where the couple really enjoyed country music, so throughout specific parts of the event, country music was played.  In sharp contrast, the couple from a wedding I DJed roughly month ago really liked music considered ‘Down Tempo Electronica’, so that is what was played during their event.  

This brings me to the part of the night where the dance floor opens and we expect people to start dancing.  There are many ways to do this and each DJ has their own idea what works best.  One of the things I always talk to my clients about is the importance of dancing at their event.  I’ve learned over the years that guests at a wedding are very selective in what they remember from the event.  Overwhelmingly, no matter how delicious and expensive it was, guests typically do not remember how good the food was, though they will remember if it was bad, and they do not typically remember how pretty the flowers were, or how great the cake was, even if it was absolutely delicious and the flowers were gorgeous!  What they remember most of all is how much fun they had at the wedding, and this is a direct reflection on the DJ and Emcee they choose.  (On a personal note, this one of, if not THE main reason I enjoy DJing/Emceeing so much!  I really enjoy knowing that ‘I’ was given the opportunity help create such a great event for my clients!) 

As I mentioned earlier, most DJs will have a technique they use at EVERY wedding to get people on the dancefloor, and some of them are more memorable than others, for better or for worse, which brings me to the songs.  There is no question that songs like YMCA and Macho Man by the Village People, Mambo #5 by Lou Bega, Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, the Chicken Dance, the Macarena, and many more are extremely recognizable songs and, because they are so widely recognizable, people will tend to dance to them.  At the same time, however, when you play a song like that, you run the risk of your guests not remembering how much fun they had, how smoothly the event went, or how much they did not want the party to end, but simply remembering that you had the YMCA or you did the Chicken Dance at your wedding.  Sure, you may get a couple of great photos of uncle Lou doing the Macarena, but there are plenty of other ways to get a crowd up, from certain other popular, dare I say, less “cheesy” songs, to particular, pre-determined events that encourage people to make their way onto the dance floor.  These events are all subject to client approval and certainly will not work for every crowd, which is a great reason to make sure your DJ has more than one technique.  Additionally, as I’ve metioned in previous blogs, the ability to “read the crowd” is another way a DJ will know what will work and what will not.

***Geoff Maddox has been a wedding and event DJ and emcee for the past 10 years in Orange County and Los Angeles.  To learn more, please visit

About GME DJ and Event Entertainment

I have been a DJ for about 10 years. Though my main business is weddings, I've DJed everything from corporate parties, to clubs, to sweet 16s, bar and bat mitzvahs, and more! I began singing when I was really young which jump-started my love of music! Not only does this give me a unique perspective, but it also allows me to more accurately assist clients with their music selection! My main philosophy is that a wedding or other event should be a reflection of the bride and groom or the person whom the event is for, and because of that, at the end of the night, they should feel like it was "The best party they've ever attended!", and I go out of my way to ensure that experience!
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