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Breaking the Ice: How to Get Your Guests on the Dance Floor


Whether it’s your wedding reception or a big anniversary celebration, there is nothing worse than an empty dance floor. A poor playlist will put-off partygoers, but there are some key tricks you can do to ensure your event is a roaring success.

Gauge your audience

Target your song set to your audience – if the crowd is made up of Gen X and Y, then they are unlikely to move to the crooning of Elvis Presley or the Rat Pack, while baby-boomers might not appreciate the dulcet tones of Beyoncé or the rap of Will.I.Am. By targeting the music to the right era and genre, you are giving yourself a head-start to filling the dance floor. Go one step further and ask your guests to make song suggestions along with their RSVP. That way you can be sure to get the music selection right.

Song selection

Although it’s your party (and you can cry if you want to) remember, other people might not share your taste in music, so throw in a few crowd-pleasers if want to get everyone up and dancing. Try classic toe-tappers such as ‘I Want You Back’ by Jackson 5, ‘Footloose’ by Kenny Loggings or ‘Le Freak’ by Chic; whatever the occasion, Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’ usually gets the relatives and friends alike, up and dancing. Mix it up with a few modern numbers, some retro classics and a handful of oldies-but-goodies.

Lead by example

You need to get in on the action yourself if you expect anyone else to get on the dance floor, but wannabe dancers tend to be shy until a few people start strutting their stuff, so it’s a great idea to rope some friends in on the act as well – get those closest to you to help you get the crowd moving.

Timing is everything

Don’t start up the dancing, only to have it stopped again by the buffet opening. Yes, food should always come first, followed by time for digestion and perhaps a drink or two, for courage. Only then can you realistically expect people to start bopping with wild abandon. If you want to slow things down for a cake-cutting opportunity or a late buffet, make sure you have songs lined up which will re-fill the floor afterwards.

Look at the layout

Try to ensure the dance floor is in the middle of the room, so that it is accessible to everyone, and keep all bars in the same room if possible, so there is no excuse to roam. Make sure there is space between the floor and the surrounding tables, as plenty of wallflowers prefer to dance just off the dance floor itself. Equally, if you know there will be a group of elderly relatives, try seating them further away so that they can enjoy the experience without stopping other people getting up to boogie.

Don’t give in to cheese

Finally, in order to keep you on the dance floor, give your DJ a list of Do Not Play songs – this can include any pet-hates from the Chicken Song and Conga to anything by the Cheeky Girls; it’s your party and you have every right to enjoy it!