Party Planning Hack #1 - The Sound of Music


Party Planning Hack_The Sound of Music

I have a simple yet often neglected party-planning tip that can create immediate atmosphere, lift the mood of any party and the best part is that it doesn’t cost a dime! This thought came about when I recently attended two very different types of events – one was a birthday party for a 5 year old and the other was a chi-chi trunk show for high-end jewelry. As I sat there enjoying the food and mingling with guests, it felt like something was missing and as I looked around the room, it dawned on me what it was. It wasn’t the lack of anything physical – it was the silence or the lack of music that was missing!    

Admittedly, I am not a big music person - I couldn’t tell you what the latest hit songs are let alone who sings them nor do I know the words to one complete song barring Christmas carols! But, I am a big believer that music is instrumental in enhancing the atmosphere of all festive events - from romantic ballads serenaded throughout a wedding, to the latest Top 20 songs blasting at a Sweet 16, to the boppy nursery songs at a first birthday. Nowadays, technology has enabled us to simply plug your iPhone into speakers, build a playlist on Spotify and voila, the energy level of the party is immediately elevated!

I read one great advice on knowing what party music to play from a Glamour magazine many years ago that still sticks with me today. The secret is to play music from the era when the majority of your guests were in their teens/mid-20s. Though I am not a musically inclined person, I could see the logic behind that advice. I’m a Gen X and anytime I hear a classic from the 80’s especially if it’s dance-worthy, it always conjures up such happy memories!

Let me also explain what “dance-worthy” means. It’s a term that my husband and I coined when we were planning our wedding back in 2005. We were determined to have our guests dance-the-night-away so we spent a considerable amount of time “dance-testing” a list of our favorite songs. This required dancing to each and every one and giving a pass or a fail based on the ease of the song getting us up on our feet and grooving to each one. There were quite a few surprises as songs that we thought were shoo-ins (eg. Michael Jackson, REM, David Bowie) really weren’t that easy to dance to!

So if you’re planning a party that includes dancing, to help you get started and to spare you hours of dance-testing your playlist, I’d like to share with you the list of songs that we came up with. Here they are in no particular order - simply add your our own favorites + get ready to dance the night away!  

Warning:  All songs after 2005 have not been “officially” dance-tested so use at your own peril!!

From the ‘60s & ‘70s
Tom Jones – It’s Not Unusual
Chic – Le Freak
Wild Cherry – Play that Funky Music
Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
KC & the Sunshine Band – Get Down Tonight
Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)
Barry Manilow – Copacabana
Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation
Rick James – Super Freak
Village People – YMCA
Kool & the Gang – Celebration

From the ‘80s
The Romantics – What I Like About You
Abba – Dancing Queen
B-52s – Love Shack
Bee Gees – Staying Alive
Banarama – Venus
Prince – Let’s Go Crazy
The Primitives – Crash
Billy Idol – Rebel Yell, Mony Mony
Katrina and the Waves – Walking on Sunshine
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
N Trance – Stayin’ Alive
Duran Duran – Rio
Aha – Take On Me
Run DMC – Walk This Way
Madonna – Express Yourself, Live a Virgin
Erasure – A Little Respect

From the ‘90s
The Donnas – Dancing with Myself
Heavy D & the Boyz – Now that We’ve Found Love
Christina Aguilera – Lady Marmalade
Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart
Jennifer Lopez – Let’s Get Loud
Smash Mouth – I’m a Believer
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – Boom Shake the Room
Brittany Spears – My Prerogative
Cher – Believe
Ini Kamoze – Here Comes the Hotstepper 

From the 2000’s+
Outkast – Hey Ya!
Black Eyed Peas – Let’s Get Started, I Gotta Feeling
LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem
Shakira – Waka Waka
Beyonce – Single Ladies
Pharrell Williams – Happy
Adele – Rumor Has It / Rolling in the Deep
Lady Gaga – Edge of Glory
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
Mark Ronson – Upton Funk ft Bruno Mars
Pitbull – Fireball ft John Ryan
One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful
Amy Winehouse – Rehab
Rihanna – Don’t Stop the Music
Carlie Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
The Script – Hall of Fame
Jennifer Lopez – Dance Again, On the Floor


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