It may take a while before the dance floors are full again. But music remains a priority for couples, even as they host intimate weddings and parties at social distance in person or through video conferencing apps and platforms. Hiring a DJ for your reception – even a virtual one – has several advantages.
A great DJ often starts planning a mix of songs well in advance of the event. “It’s about creating a soundtrack that shows your vision,” said Arman Naféei, a Los Angeles-based DJ whose recent gigs include Gwyneth Paltrow’s wedding to Brad Falchuk. “We’re going to have a conversation where I’ll ask about their vibe and style, their favorite music, and I’ll take all of that into account.”
The ability to customize a set to suit the audience is one of the perks of hiring a DJ. “You never know how things will go,” said William Grand, a Manhattan DJ. “I prefer to organize my music carefully so that I can react instead of sticking to a given script.” Mr. Grand’s clients include actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Murray, but also fashion brands like Versace and publications like Vogue.
There are tunes that always seem to get the guests dancing, regardless of demographics. “Those songs have stood the test of time,” said Lindsey Caldwell, a Brooklyn DJ who mixed up the mix for actors America Ferrera and Ryan Piers Williams’ wedding. “They satisfy the tastes of several generations of people who do not all have the same background.”
Here are some of the tracks DJs keep in their back pockets to get the party started.
DJ Lindsey, Lindsey Caldwell, Brooklyn
TLC, ‘No Peeling’
“I love doing a 90s mini set at weddings. Most guests recognize ‘No Scrubs’ after the first four notes and create the best sing-along moments that make for great photos. “
Enur feat. Natasja, ‘Calabria’
“I want my weddings to feel like a house party and ‘Calabria’ is a nice surprise during main dance time. Anyone can figure out a little two-step step or just jump on it. “
Missy Elliott (feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop), ‘Lose Control’
“I usually play this piece towards the end of the night, when people have warmed up well (and a splash of liquid courage). It’s always fun to see people react both on the dance floor and on the sidelines when it all goes down. “
Benny Goodman, “Sing, sing, sing”
“One of Benny Goodman’s greatest songs, it’s unexpected and has a great build and catchy drums. When the horns enter, there is an energy that touches everyone and usually makes everyone swing around. “
Diana Ross, “I’m Coming Out”
“It starts high right away, so it’s the perfect song to mix in. It’s also positive and energetic, an upper that makes people happy. “
Kimberly Venetz, DJ Alkimist, Washington, DC, Seattle and Manhattan
Sean Paul, “Gimme The Light”
“Don’t sleep in the dance hall! This song gives people the opportunity to get sexy on the dance floor. “
Frankie Beverly and Maze, “Before I Let Go / Beyoncé,” Before I Let Go “
“Whether I play the original version of Frankie Beverly or the cover of Beyoncé depends on the audience, but nobody can resist singing ‘Before I let you goooooo’.”
Fetty Wap (feat. Remy Boyz), ‘679’
“It’s fun, easy and gets people going.”
Avicii – Levels’
“It’s one of those songs that gets bigger every year, probably because of the upbeat mood and the killer vocal sample from Etta James that the older generation knows.”
Daft Punk, “One More Time”
“After all these years it’s still a good club character that brings people together on the dance floor and that the guests like to sing along to. I ended the night with this tune a couple of times and at the end the dance floor has ‘one more song!’ sung! after the music stopped. “
KC and the sunshine band ‘Boogie Shoes’
“As soon as the horn reef sounds, you can hear the crowd cheering and the energy lifted. This song sits in a good mid-tempo bag and since it was sampled by Trick Daddy for ‘Take It To Da House’, it is popular with young and old. “
Taio Cruz, “Dynamite”
“Your grandmother knows the words to this song. Your wedding party too. The choir’s reputation and response provide great interaction for guests. It’s also a great transition song to move in any direction. “
Tom “Doc Delay” Shiner and DJ Abby Klein, Play Something Good, Dallas and Manhattan
Shenseea (feat.Tyga), ‘Blessed’
“This is a fun, self-loving power anthem with a dancehall feel to it. It mixes well with throwback hip-hop, so it’s also versatile, ”said Ms. Klein.
The contours, ‘do you love me’
“Come on. Don’t try to dance,” said Mr. Shiner.
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Talking Heads, “This has to be the right place”
“This song spans three generations, but it avoids being played like some other classics,” said Mr. Shiner.
“It is very suitable for a wedding because it conjures up celebration, love, fate and is romantic but fast-paced,” said Ms. Klein.
Donna Summer, “I feel love”
“It’s one of the most influential disco records of all time. It was released in the late 1970s, but still sounds modern, even futuristic to me. “
Goom Gum, “It’s a lot”
“I always get great feedback when I play this game. It is reminiscent of a classic Depeche Mode track, but with ultra-modern dance music production. “
Madonna, “like a prayer”
“I’m playing a mix of the original and an edit with a more low end. It works well with all ages and when the a cappella break comes it’s like taking everyone to church. “
Drake, “Nice for what”
“He’s had an impressive run in the last decade and this Lauryn Hill-sampled song always gets people going.”
The temptations, “my girl”
“This Motown song wins the Slow Dance Award. Everyone knows it within the first few seconds and I like that it allows people to slow down and become a little more intimate. “
“The drums and bass on this Afrobeats track are enough to get everyone moving. Whether or not you understand Rema’s lyrics, which are a combination of English and several Nigerian dialects, his melodies and vocal cadences are catchy enough to make you sing along. “
Rihanna, ‘You Da One’ (Grandma + Guy Remix)
“An up-tempo Rihanna song? Who doesn’t dance to it? DJ mOma and Guy Furious did a great job with the Afrobeats remix. “