Group Dances at Your Wedding – What Couples Need to Know

GROUP DANCES – Our Thoughts 

Group Dances & audience participation songs are the enfants terribles of the wedding dance party. From classics like The Twist and the much maligned Electric Slide (it’s a Bunny Wailer track!) to more contemporary works like Blanco Brown’s ‘The Git Up’ and the Cupid Shuffle, they’re either something you’re dreading or something you can’t wait for at your own event. Here’s our thoughts on what to keep in mind before including them or cutting them out entirely.

Most of our clients  put the ‘group dances’ on their DO NOT PLAY list and want everyone to freestyle dance the whole evening. 

At Stylus, we take our client requests as gospel, and if our client request lists (and DO NOT PLAY lists) are any indication – these songs can be sticking points for couples. It’s important for you and your partner to talk about how you feel about them and understand the pros and cons of group dances – and why this one decision may have a bigger impact on your wedding day timeline and your party than you think.

If your wedding is populated by mostly 20 somethings who go out clubbing every weekend – we might not need to lure them onto the dance floor with anything other than bangers – but many weddings have a wide variety of guests in attendance and, in many cases, our uncle’s freestyle dance moves aren’t legendary.

Let’s take a moment to understand what a group dance is and how it can be used.

A ‘Group Dance’ is a song where we’re asking the audience to engage in a specific way. There are a lot of types – and group dances include the Copperhead Road, Before I let Go by Beyonce, Shout,  All I Do Is Win, the Harlem Shake, We Will Rock You, every Carolina Shag song like Carolina Girls and Ms. Grace, and all ballroom dances like the swing, waltz, rhumba, hustle, salsa, and two-step. Slow dances are a subset as well, it’s just a much smaller group. Also included, the Hora, the Kola, the Dabke, and the Dab. 

A second subset of group dance is Sing Along/ Call & Response songs – like Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Believing, What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, Truth Hurts by Lizzo, Mr. Brightside, and Wagon Wheel.

From your DJs standpoint – these are powerful engagement options to help your guests develop the party vibe and cohesion that creates memorable experiences. They’re simply tools to engage your audience. It’s also a great way to switch up the energy and develop the floor. We find we get a much more involved dance floor when we can provide opportunities to dance to different styles of music throughout the evening.

The reasons some couples don’t want the group dances are pretty simple – they hear them at other events and want their wedding to be different. When thinking back to all the events you’ve been to before – how many weddings would you consider as ‘different’ and what made it so?

It’s our experience that every single wedding is different – not just because of the music that the couple loves but also because we’re at a one-of-a-kind event with your specific elements, at your specific location, with your unique combination of friends and family. In most cases – the things that make a wedding different are unique to you and your guests, not necessarily because the playlist didn’t include a group dance. 


Group Dance Wedding 1

Looking back at my own wedding, some of my strongest memories are the dances that engaged people who didn’t engage as strongly with other songs I requested. This included the Cupid Shuffle where I taught my 90 year old great aunt to do the dance and Bohemian Rhapsody where everybody got crazy during the drop (Thanks Wayne’s World!).

Another reason to avoid group dances is that you simply don’t like the song – and that’s a great reason to avoid them at your event. If you hate a song – you shouldn’t hear it. There’s also a reason many of these songs are played at events featuring large groups of people – since the number of songs that people jump out of their seats for (especially early in the evening) are actually not as big as you might think.

Group Dances are, by several orders, the most requested songs at weddings. It’s likely that many of the guests at your event will enjoy them. They are also a powerful tool in your DJ’s toolkit – an element that can be used effectively to build a great party.

The truth is that there are likely going to be some guests at your event who aren’t as comfortable as you might be, and they are more likely to get engaged with a slow dance, a group dance, or an audience participation dance like the Anniversary Dance.

The downside of banning group dances is probably a little different than you’re thinking. Yes, your guests will probably get involved and the DJ can pack your dance floor with a great group dance song choice, but choosing not to allow the DJ to use a group dance can have a bigger impact on your timeline than you think.

Your DJ can fill the dance floor almost immediately with a group dance, whereas they might spend 10-20 minutes, or even more with certain groups, trying to build the dance floor organically. Consider your actual party time (after dinner service and formalities) and how much time you’re willing to let guests mingle before engaging.

Another aspect to consider is guest sentiment. The music is a little different than other elements – like the food or the photo booth. Whereas your guests would be OK accepting your menu choices and recognizing that asking for something off menu was not possible. A caterer will rarely have to say, “Sorry, the bride has specifically requested that no allegery-free or vegetarian options be avaialble this evening,” and your guests will treat the music very differently and can often get upset when we tell them that we’re unable to play group dances. 

This extends to some of your other song choices as well – if you know your guests are going to love Hip Hop, Country, or EDM – but you hate that style of music -you may consider putting a few of their favorites on your playlist BECAUSE you know they’ll like it. You’re probably not going to look back on your wedding and say “I’m so glad I didn’t play that one song my friends liked.”

If a big dance party matters to you, you might consider which group dances you’d be OK with. This can supercharge your dance floor and give your DJ the opportunity to work in a greater variety of music. Plus, your mom has probably been on YouTube trying to learn the Wobble. 

We love your insight and we also love it when clients leave it at our discretion – because that lets us avoid them if we can or use them if they’re needed as we help you create a memorable party to celebrate your wedding day. Please remember to let your DJ know how you feel.

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