Sorry for the goofy title. I couldn’t resist! Being in the business of entertainment coordination, I have visited the topic of audience participation thousands of times. I have done the Y.M.C.A. probably somewhere between 800-1000 times, second only to the electric slide. How many people do you know can honestly say that!?
Let the truth be told, no matter how much fun it looks like I am having each time I do a conga line, these audience participation songs are not on my iPod. As a matter of fact, I don’t know anyone who listens to Hands Up in the car or while showering. My point is that these songs have a specific purpose and they should be used [played] appropriately… that is, if they are used at all. The topic is very debatable. Some people think that songs like the Cha Cha Slide are cheesy and others think they are fun. A bride might be mortified if the chicken dance is played at her wedding, but her parents can’t imagine a celebration without it. How about you? Will you have audience participation at your wedding? Do you generally do the electric slide when it’s played?
Without a clear idea about the desired atmosphere for your reception, there is no right or wrong. If you know, however, that you want a very elegant affair, you may want to stay away from group dances. On the other hand, if you are shooting for a more relaxed atmosphere these songs might be more fitting. This theory is good for the two extremes, but what about the majority of couples who’s vision and planning creates a middle of the road scenario. These couples often describe the elegant aspects of the wedding in the same sentence that they explain their wish that their guest get crazy on the dance floor. Where does audience participation fit into this situation?
It is my believe that you rarely NEED to have audience participation songs to have a good time. Sure, I think they can be fun from time to time. I also agree with some DJ’s that praise these songs’ ability to often loosen people up. However, times have changed and with those changes are new trends. There was a time when the electric slide might be a DJ’s first song to open the dance floor or perhaps the guests would ask for it a second time. It was these group dances that made the reception fun. No longer is that the case.
Today’s bride has many more resources from which she can get new ideas and explore DIY projects that make her wedding unique. There has been a gradual turn toward directing guests focus to decor, specialty stations such as a candy bar, and mini-activities like guest decorated memory albums and photo booths. Dancing has always been a significant portion of wedding receptions and will likely always remain so. However, with new and distinctive reception styles such as cocktail receptions and iPod receptions become popular, emphasis is moved from the dance floor to other creative aspects.
I do believe that at many wedding receptions their is a handful of guests who would enjoy doing a few select group dances. Particularly the older guests. It can’t hurt to evaluate whether these guests will even get up to do a group dance and you might be surprised at the number of younger guests that join them on the dance floor. The difference today is that these songs are not used to get people on the dance floor so much as they are used to break up the dancing with a splash of nostalgia.
Bottom line is this… if you think these songs are cheesy and you don’t want them played… don’t have them played. If you have a secret passion for doing these dances, by all means have the DJ spotlight them all! Furthermore, if your aunt Tilda really wants to do the electric slide, ask the DJ to make it a special song for her. Doing one or two shouldn’t cheese things up as much as you might think. Either way your guests will likely enjoy the uniqueness of your reception that reflects your personality and tastes.