It’s your BIG DAY! Don’t leave anything to chance. We at Houston Party Ride asked some of Houston’s top wedding DJ’s their advice to making your reception one to remember!
“As a DJ, you are literally the life of the wedding reception. Sometimes, people are hesitant to let loose. What are some tips and tricks to packing the dance floor?”
To pack the dance floor you have to speak TO the crowd, not AT them. The DJ provides the energy and once the energy is in the atmosphere, the DJ directs the energy into the crowd and lets them know that it is OK to release their inhibitions! That is the spark that ignites the flame and then BOOM…The party is on! My motto is “Don’t be nervous, I am at your service.” “If you can dance at your seat, then you can dance on your feet.”
–Houston’s Premier DJ’s
Well, any good DJ will tell you, the best way to liven up a crowd is to find that person that is wanting to ‘let loose’. Find out what song will trigger them…. could be a line dance, or just ask them. Once everyone else sees them having a good time, they’ll want to be a part of it!
–Good Time Music
At DJ Norro Events our ultimate goal to insure client along with their guests have a great time. Before the dance floor opens it’s important to observe the crowd and also be mindful of the playlist your client has put together along with their requests. Every time before the Dance floor opens I always ask myself this question. How can I get everyone moving? Here’s some tips that work out for me:
A. Observe your crowd (Age, Gender, Culture) – Based on your observation helps determine what music you could open the dance floor with.
B. Select popular icebreakers (Line dances, etc) – A lot of these songs are known to get your crowd warmed up
C. Interact with your Crowd – This is normally the fun part. Getting your crowd involved with the songs you play, it’s always great to choose songs that gets your to crowd to interact back with you by allowing them to sing, jump, first pump, etc.
It’s always great to motivate your crowd and remind them that their celebrating a special day, and creating memories with that special couple.
-Noris Albert, DJ Norro Events
The main way to get people on the dance floor is to play what THEY want to hear, not what the DJ wants to play. At some events, like a wedding, you’re hired to cater to their requests; it’s their personal event. Sometimes people hire me to do the Def Jam Blaster show where I play what I want, sometimes they hire me to do their personalized requests. A professional DJ knows the difference.
-William Ross, Def Jam Blaster
To answer your first question, there are many tips and tricks to getting people to let loose and have fun on the dance floor! For starters, aside from great song selections, a great timeline is very important. What I mean by that is you want to build energy throughout the night and the best way to do that is to place activities that help you build momentum is a sequential order that flows! For example you do not want to have toasts and speech after you have opened up the dance floor! Also, some of the best activities to transition from dinner to dancing is the anniversary dance!
Also, have your bride and groom out on the dance floor for the first song is great as well because you can sort of guilt trip folks into come out to join them on the dance floor! ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if you REALLY love our newly weds…. we need you join them out on the dance floor!!
-David Settle, DJS Entertainment
I usually try and take as many requests as I can to make it an enjoyable experience for all. Even those that may be nervous about dancing usually get on the dance floor if it is a song they like. I try and make it as personalized as possible that way everyone gets into a dancing mood. I always try and play upbeat songs and mix the classics with today’s hits. I try my best to make it a fun, party type atmosphere for all.
-John Papasideris, JPAPA Productions
Sometimes when a party is dead I try to play some line dances. I might play the most popular current dance or depending on the crowd I might play an older one that everyone knows the moves too. I also try to remind the guest that this is a celebration and we owe it to people that invited us to party. If I do play song and I see people moving in their seats but scared to get on the floor. I might walk over and try to get them to step out on the floor and shake they groove thing. If none of that works I might remind the crowd I am taking requests but you are required to dance if you request a song and I play it. Alcohol always helps too. After the drinks kick in people tend to loosen up a bit.
-D.J.’s “R” US
I use the current mood and energy in the room to dictate how I pack the dance floor. If the crowd is already in a party mood, I will hit them right away with a fun, high energy song but if everyone is more laid back and reserved, a smarter approach may be to start with a slower song or line dance. Another ice breakers strategy is to do an anniversary dance, which gets all the married couples out on the dance floor.
There are really no tricks to getting the dance floor full but once the crowd knows the DJ is a professional, it gives people permission subconsciously to let loose because they trust they will be taken care of when they are out there dancing!
Being hired as a DJ for any event, you are the main entertainment for the night. I always get a playlist from the bride of songs she wants played. And usually she will ask friends and family for help getting the list together. So once I have that list, I make sure I have every song on that list, and I use that as a reference on how to plan my night. I will play a few songs from a particular artist on that list during the dinner and I will read the crowd and see how they react to the music. Then when the dance floor is open for dancing, I will have a good idea of what will get people moving and having fun. I use my experience and knowledge of music to insure that the event is fun and enjoyable for all ages.
Well as this may seem like an easy question to answer….it truly is not.
First off I start reading my crowd as soon as the cocktail hour begins.
What is the age range of the crowd, are they drinking a lot already are they not drinking a lot. Are the being conservative are they laughing and joking. These are my ways of telling how the night may go once we open the dance floor. If the bride and groom choose to do a money dance or Anniversary dance I always do it right before we open the dance floor. I am basically forcing people to come out and dance. Then once we open the dance floor usually they are like..well we were already out there lets go again..lol.
Then there is the opening song…This is where age comes in play. If there is a lot of an older crowd I usually open with something they can dance to..Eart Wind and Fire September is a good one. And with that song i have come to realize that it doesn’t matter how old you are…usually everyone gets up and Dances. Now if it is predominantly younger age range, then it can be a bit more tricky…this is everyone likes different things..but there is always a few songs that will get the dance floor packed. The Big hit songs that just make you wanna get up and dance. 24k by Bruno Mars is a great example…then you go into a line dance right after (the wobble, cupid shuffle etc..).
And that’s how it works for me anyways you get people on the dance floor for 2-3 songs back to back and they will keep coming back. Once you switch from that style and if people start dwindling down then you know to switch it back to whatever was keeping them dancing.
The first thing I teach my team is to create a comfortable environment so guest feel that it is ok to relax and have some fun. We work hard at removing early tension like what do I do, where do I go, where can I sit, do I help myself to food and drinks? It is important for guest to feel like it is safe environment before they let their hair down so to speak.
Next we warm the audience up by playing music during dinner which we call our toe tapping set. During this time we are identify personalities and types of music that get the most responses essentially we are reading the room.
Then we like event that are designed to give guest a big toe test like the anniversary dance where all the married guest get up and dance for short time as we count up to fine the couple that has been married the longest.
Once we get them out once it is easier to get them to come a second time. Now for the tricks:
1. We use a stir step music format. Which means we play 2 similar songs and then jump up in beat. So we are constantly picking up the pace and then starting over with the styles the host as requested. The 2 songs sets give guest more time out on the floor and again to build their comfort on the dance floor. Nothing worse than watching sally drag uncle bob out to her favorite George Strait song and loosing 2/3 of the song to convincing uncle bob to come out and then 60 sec later changing it to party rock and watching uncle run back to the safe zone of his table.
2. Go back to those personalities you identified earlier and get them to bring their tables out.
3. Play line dances and we actually start them this way you don’t have that awkward 30 sec of “ok, who is going to start this off?”
4. Do call outs like this next song is dedicated to all the brides cousins this help gets groups out.
5. Props yes party props you can give a grown adult a party prop and it like a license to be silly. Have you heard of a Hora Locca?
Now that you have some groups working the floor now is the time to play songs so you can merge smaller groups in to one big group. Nothing like watching grandma do the “dougie” and do it better than the groomsmen. The key is to know your audience and that is done early at the event then know what your host wants and then make it happen no matter what!!!!
First, after I know what type of event I am doing; age group, any steps I need to follow and so on, I play the most popular and familiar songs first then announce that I’m taking requests. And that’s pretty much the ice beaker there.
Line dancing for group sessions is always a “go to” win situation. As a DJ when you get a good read from the crowd then these steps should never fail. A few jokes on the mic are good too.
–DJ Ray Young
Compiled by Houston Party Ride