Group dances and audience participation songs are the “enfants terribles” of the wedding dance party. From classics, like “The Twist” and “The Electric Slide,” to more contemporary works, like Blanco Brown’s “The Git Up” and “The Cupid Shuffle,” they’re either something you’re dreading or something you can’t wait for at your wedding. Here's our thoughts on what to keep in mind before including them or cutting them out entirely.
Most of our clients put the group dances on their do not play list and want everyone to freestyle dance the whole evening.
At Stylus, we take our client requests as gospel, and if our client request lists (and do not play lists) are any indication, these songs can be sticking points for couples. It’s important for you and your partner to talk about how you feel about them and understand the pros and cons of group dances, and why this one decision may have a bigger impact on your wedding day timeline and party than you think.
If your wedding is populated by mostly 20 somethings who go out clubbing every weekend, we might not need to lure them onto the dance floor with anything other than bangers. However, many weddings have a wide variety of guests inattendance and, in many cases, your uncle’s freestyle dance moves aren’t legendary.
What is a group dance?
Let’s take a moment to understand what a group dance is and how it can be used.
A group dance is a song where we’re asking the audience to engage in a specific way. There are a lot of types. For example, “Copperhead Road,” “Before I Let Go” by Beyoncé, “Shout,” “All I Do Is Win,” “Harlem Shake,” “We Will Rock You,” every Carolina Shag song –like “Carolina Girls” and “Ms. Grace” –and all ballroom dances –like the swing, waltz, rhumba, hustle, salsa, and two-step.
Other subsets of group dances include slow dances, cultural songs like the Hora and Dabke, and sing-along songs like “Sweet Caroline,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo and “Wagon Wheel.”
What’s the debate?
From your DJs standpoint, these are powerful engagement options to help your guests develop the party vibe and cohesion that creates memorable experiences. They’re simply tools to engage your audience. It’s also a great way to switch up the energy and develop the floor. We find we get a much more involved dance floor when we can provide opportunities to dance to different styles of music throughout the evening.
The reasons some couples don’t want the group dances are pretty simple, they hear them at other events and want their wedding to be different. When thinking back to all the events you’ve been to before, how many weddings would you consider “different” and what made it so?
It’s our experience that every single wedding is different. Not just because of the music that the couple loves but also because we’re at a one-of-a-kind event with your specific elements, at your specific location, with your unique combination of friends and family. In most cases, the things that make a wedding different are unique to you and your guests, not necessarily because the playlist didn’t include a group dance.
What should I consider in my decision?
Looking back at my own wedding, some of my strongest memories are the dances that engagedpeople who didn’t engage as strongly with other songs I requested. This included the “Cupid Shuffle” where I taught my 90-year-old great aunt to do the dance and “Bohemian Rhapsody” where everybody got crazy during the drop (thanks “Wayne’s World!”).
One easy reason to avoid group dances? You simply don’t like the song. If you hate a song, you shouldn’t have to listen to it on your wedding day.
If you don’t hate them, consider that group dances are the most requested songs at weddings.It’s likely that many of the guests at your event will enjoy them. They are a powerful tool in your DJ’s toolkit to effectively to build a great party.
The truth is that there are likely going to be some guests at your event who aren’t as comfortable as you might be jumping on to the dance floor. They are more likely to get engaged with a slow dance, a group dance or an audience participation dance, like the anniversary dance.
With this in mind, banning group dances can have a bigger impact on your timeline than you may realize.
Your DJ can fill the dance floor almost immediately with a group dance, whereas they might spend 10 to 20 minutes, or even more with certain groups, trying to build the dance floor organically. Consider your actual party time (after dinner service and formalities) and how much time you’re willing to let guests mingle before engaging.
Another aspect to consider is guest sentiment. The music is a little different than other elements, like the food or the photo booth. Whereas your guests would be okay accepting your menu choices and recognizing that asking for something off menu was not possible. A caterer will rarely have to say, "Sorry, the bride has specifically requested that no allergy-free or vegetarian options be available this evening."
Your guests will treat the music very differently and can often get upset when we tell them that we’re unable to play group dances. You may consider include a few group dances, or other types of music your group enjoys, because you know they will like it. After all, you are probably not going to look back on your wedding and say, “I’m so glad I didn’t play that one song my friend liked.”
If a big dance party matters to you, you might consider which group dances you would be okay with. This can supercharge your dance floor and give your DJ the opportunity to work in a greater variety of music. Plus, your mom has probably been on YouTube trying to learn the Wobble.
Possibly consider letting your DJ know to avoid
Either way, remember to let your DJ know how you feel.
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