The five songs guaranteed to fill the dancefloor

The dancefloor is prime real estate at a wedding reception, so you want to keep it moving all night. But creating a song list that caters to everyone is a tricky beast. Here are five types of song you should throw into the mix to help encourage all ages to get up and Blame it on the Boogie (sorry).

The power ballad

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a power ballad – preferably one that originates from the movies or a 1980s hair metal band. Whereas a normal slow song will really only draw couples to the floor, a full-on power ballad will also draw groups of friends more than willing to sing their heart out as they deliver an interpretive dance routine to such gems as Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, You’re the Voice by John Farnham, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship and, of course, the first among equals – (I’ve Had)The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing.

Something that’s on the charts now

We’ve all heard people say there’s no music now, only noise, but that’s patently untrue. Yes, the top 40 charts showcase plenty of songs that would be pretty hard to bust a move to – yes rappers, we are looking at you – but that doesn’t mean they’re non-existent. Just think Katy Perry, Beyonce, Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, or our own Guy Sebastian or Jess Mauboy – all of whom have a great track record with upbeat anthems. And for the ultimate proof you only need to turn to Taylor Swift, who set the dance floor alight with the catchy Shake It Off. We defy anyone to hear that and not immediately take to the dancefloor.

The cheesy song with built-in steps

For the most part, the Macarena has been consigned to history, but there’s one occasion guaranteed to drag it back out – and that’s a wedding. There’s just something about a day of “I Do” that reinvigorates songs, which come with a readymade dance routine. Think YMCA by the Village People, Nutbush City Limits by Ike and Tina Turner, Blame it on the Boogie by the Jackson 5 or even the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp. The best bit is, you’re guaranteed to get good photos or video footage, be it a new generation trying to learn the steps or a groomsman who just can’t seem to keep up with everyone else.

Something sentimental

People often mistake sentimental for sappy, but nothing could be further from truth. This is about picking a song that has special meaning for you, whether it’s the Foo Fighters, Fergie or Fleetwood Mac. For your second dance of the night, you could feature a tune your parents used at their own wedding. Alternatively, you could enter the reception to your grandma’s favourite Frank Sinatra hit. Another idea for just after dessert is to play a song from the first concert you went to together. The main thing is to have your DJ or band leader announce the significance of each tune first so your guests can fully appreciate the moment.

One for the oldies

Wedding musicians and bands will tell you the first people on the dance floor are almost always the older guests, so make a point of catering to them. You could play a rock anthem by Bon Jovi (surprisingly very danceable), something sexy from the Rolling Stones or Bryan Ferry or a tried and true favourite such as Abba’s Dancing Queen. Other categories to consider include big hair bands (Def Leppard or Guns N Roses), dynamic duos (Hall & Oates, the Eurythmics or Wham), homegrown hit machines (Icehouse or INXS), dynamic divas (Kylie Minogue or Olivia Newton John) or enduring stars such as Elvis or the Beatles.

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