Planning your music choices

I can work from as many or as few song choices you decide to give, however, the more you supply, the more of an idea of what you like i get, so can tailor the music more to your tastes. A DJ can only make so much of an effort to get the crowd dancing, the party largely depends on your guests, so take their music tastes into account too! some questions to ask yourself and things to do while planning your choices:

  • is it upbeat and well known enough (by your guests) that people are likely to dance? (if its a slow song, would it be suited to earlier on in the evening, or perhaps during the buffet? if so, compile a separate list of “background” music)
  • whilst a long list of songs is a good way to gauge your tastes, bear in mind you can only play 10-15 songs per hour, so supplying a list of 100 songs could be counter-intuitive. try narrowing down your choices a little to songs that you think would work well on the dancefloor
  • highlight 10-15 songs in total from the list as “must plays” – basically, i will work around those as the core of the night, fitting in as many songs from the rest of the list as possible, whilst attempting to keep the dancefloor busy.
  • go through your music collection with your partner. have a night in with a bottle of wine and start listing songs that make you think “ooh, we HAVE to have that one played!” – listen to these songs. think whether or not they are likely to get people dancing. If they arent, stick them on the “background music” list
  • as well as the first dance, think of a song to follow it on with. something that will get everybody on the dancefloor – good examples of this include “your love keeps lifting me higher” by jackie wilson, “i gotta feeling” by black eyed peas or “ABC” by the jackson 5.
  • think about the end of the night. try to finish on a high note. play a slow one a couple of songs before the end, then finish off with something that will get everyone dancing together. I tend to play the “last” song 5-10 minutes before the end of the night, so theres always room for “just one more” without annoying the venue staff who want to close up and go home!

As a general rule, i tend to play classics that everybody knows to begin with (after the first dance at least) – lots of 60s/70s and recent pop classics. This keeps the older members of the crowd happier. After 9:30/10pm or so, once everybody is sufficiently lubricated, breaking into an indie half hour is a lot easier, as people are more likely to dance once theyve had a few glasses of wine! prepare a list of songs/bands/genres to NOT play! people say “no cheese”, but everyone has differing opinions on what constitutes “cheese” – try and be a bit more specific. whilst abba and the village people is what a lot of people consider cheesy wedding music, other people may think the spice girls or 90’s pop is to be avoided. specify as many bands/songs as you can – again, the bigger the list, the more of an idea of your tastes the DJ gets! make sure you also list any songs that bring back bad memories or that you really don’t like. For example specifying a large indie playlist, but mentioning NO OASIS OR SMITHS is a big help. As a general rule, i tend to avoid “songs with dance moves” (think YMCA, oops upside your head, cha cha slide, black lace, and that sort of thing unless you specifically state you want some of that stuff in advance! – i deliberately dont have a lot of these songs in my collection so unless i’m asked for them in advance, i wont be able to play them if they are requested on the evening…)