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Evacuate The Dance Floor



It is one of the biggest fears of every couple, an empty dancefloor. In your mind, you envision your family, friends, and loved ones dancing the night away creating memorable, lasting moments but then reality sets in and you see a handful of people dancing, or worse no one at all. What could be the cause of an empty dancefloor? The majority of the time everyone looks to the Band or DJ as the reason. However, there can be many other factors which keep the floor barren.


Ok. Let’s address the elephant in the room. The Band or DJ. Yes, it is true, if the entertainment you hired for the evening is not playing music that people connect with, then you will see people sitting, talking, or worse yet leaving. I was DJing a wedding not too long ago, and the wedding in the room next to me had about 75-85% of the attendees go because the DJ was playing all techno music and after 30min of hearing the same thing over and over the guests just chose to leave. Their experience was an unfortunate one. A Professional DJ (for weddings) or Band should know and act like it is not about them, but instead, it is about the guests and more importantly the bride and groom. They should go out of their way to create an atmosphere that will want your guests to be on the floor dancing until their feet hurt. The Professional DJ or Band should know how to read the guests and know when to switch things up to due to people tiring out, or if what they are playing isn’t working. In this industry there are many songs that individuals will fall back on because “it always works for me” and then when it doesn’t they do not know how to readjust, or at the least, it takes time.

How do you know if the DJ or Band you are considering is up to the task? You could ask for referrals, read online reviews, or watch videos. Those are great tools and I highly encourage that practice. You can also start by looking into organizations that have standards for their members. A group like the ADJA is a starting point to find DJ’s who hold themselves to a high standard when it comes to everything DJ related. What about going and visiting them during a wedding? More often than not many wedding venues do not allow people to attend the reception, even if it is for a handful of minutes. The reason is that it is a liability issue for the site, especially if you are not using their venue for their wedding. Now, if you are using that same place, you might be able to work something out with the management. What is the best way to find out about your DJ or Band? Meet with them, and ask situational questions. I LOVE meeting with couples. Before you sign a contract, you should meet face-to-face. A practice that is becoming less common, but I always encourage my couples to get together with me before signing. This allows us to get to know one another, to see if we are a good fit to work with one another and to ask questions of one another. So, meet with them and ask questions about insurance, planning, how do they handle an empty dancefloor and anything else you can think of that involves your wedding.


What are other factors that can contribute to the number of people dancing?


Your song list. While the entertainment can be very skilled if you limit them to your song choices you are also limiting the number of people who will be entertained by that music. Once, I was told that the only music I could play was 90’s alternative music during the reception, and I was not allowed to take requests. Needless to say, once the dancing got going there were very few people on the floor. The couple looked surprised, because they were dancing and having a great time but they noticed that most people were just sitting there. They asked me why no one else was dancing? I asked if I could switch things up a little and then go back to mixing in their music requests. Next thing you know the floor filled, the night went along very well, and everyone left happy. If you went through the process to meet and talk with your entertainment and have asked the right questions, you should feel comfortable enough to allow them to do their job to the best of their abilities. While it is your reception and you should want to hear the music you want, remember that there are guests who are there to support you, and you should want them to have a great time as well. However, be leery about requests.


Requests. The definition of a request is “an act of asking politely or formally.” Many people believe that a request means the same as a guarantee. Let me tell you that it does not mean the same thing. I always ask my couples if they would like for me to take requests. More often than not, they don’t have a problem with me taking and playing requests, but it is a part of the reception that can clear the dancefloor. Especially, if the song requested is in direct contrast to the atmosphere created. If there are certain people you know that will request crazy, rude, or downright offensive music it is best to have a general no request policy or at least a “check with me” guideline in place with your entertainment. At the very least, your vendors should know what will kill the vibe and act accordingly.


Pictures. It is your wedding and everyone is there to see you. They want to see you and interact with you. When the reception is in full swing, everyone wants to have an incredible time with you, and they are always looking for you. A photographer has an incredible, time-consuming, and artistic job. Within your venue, there are possibilities of creating the perfect shot. Sometimes that is based on the natural light. I want that moment for you, we all do, however, that moment shouldn’t last an hour. The longer you are away from your guests, and the dancefloor the more people will being to look for you, and they will leave the dancefloor to do so. If you have specific pictures that have to happen once the dance floor is open make sure that the entertainment knows this in advance of the reception. Informing them will help in programming music and keeping all your guests on the floor.


Sparkler Pictures and Sendoffs needed there own place on the evacuating the dancefloor list, and for a good reason. The photographer typically leaves about an hour or so before the reception ends. One of the trends in reception pictures are the sparkler pictures and pictures of the sendoff. If you are planning on doing one or both of these types of photos, this will guarantee everyone is off the dancefloor for a period. Why? Because of the time it takes to organize, and execute. If this is not discussed with the DJ/MC beforehand, it can be disastrous for your dancefloor once completed. The DJ/MC should announce these pictures and help organize it as efficiently as possible, and all the while reminding everyone that the reception is not over and dancing will keep going after these photos are done. These are fantastic pictures, and they create another cool moment for everyone! Just remember to communicate with your DJ/MC.


Drinks. People love an open bar, and liquid courage can bring people onto the dancefloor for some great pictures, videos, and memories. However, what can evacuate the dancefloor faster than a terrible song choice? A broken bottle, glass, or worse. As the evening goes along, more people tend to bring their drinks onto the floor, and as much as your entertainment can announce to everyone to keep drinks off the dancefloor, it almost always happens. Then bottle breaks or glass, then the venue has to turn on the lights bring a broom and mop out clean up and then wait for the floor to dry. Is there a solution? Ask the venue to have a drink table set up near the dancefloor once dinner has finished, and before you ask no the DJ table is not a place to set your drinks.


Family. Believe it, or not some people just do not enjoy dancing. When I am planning with couples, I always ask if the extended family or friends attending are big into dancing and partying. This question can open up various ways of addressing your dancefloor. However, if you know beforehand that your aunt, uncle, or third cousin do not dance at all, you should not be surprised not to see them on the dancefloor. However, if those family members are sitting down, smiling, nodding their head, or tapping their hand and feet to the music, rest assured they are having a good time. They are just expressing it differently.


The dancefloor is where many wonderful memories are created and I want your reception to be everything you envisioned. As your are planning your wedding just remember the few topics listed here to help keep your dancefloor filled. If you have any questions, comments, or you would like to know more about how I can help you fill your dancefloor just click here. Thank you for reading and as always enjoy planning your wedding.


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