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Jim's Blog

The DJ's Not Always Right

I have a list of "rules" that if a bride and groom follow them, they WILL have a successful wedding reception.

Yeah. That list is being torn up today and being discarded. Because all the rules were broken this weekend and I had two FANTASTIC wedding receptions.

First was Patrick and Alyssa on Friday night. Friday just happened to be the hottest day of the year so far and Alyssa wanted their dance floor to be outside. Everything else would take place inside but the dancing and "events" would be outside.

What that told me was A) Nobody was going to leave the air conditioning to dance and B) Did I mention it was the hottest day of the year?

When I was setting up it had cooled down to a mellow 98 degrees. I was sweating like a pimp in church.

It took a while but by 10 pm we finally arrived to the "Open Dancing" portion of the evening. Up until then I wasn't trying to get people to dance. Hire me and I'll explain why.

Anyway, I had already been hit with a few requests before the dancing started so I opened with those. To be honest, I just didn't have much faith in the requests and thought I would get them done and out of the way so we could move on to the more popular stuff.

First song: "Brown Eyed Girl".

The guests attacked the dance floor. It was almost like the dance floor had offended them in some way and they were stomping on it to pay it back. I didn't have the heart to tell these folks that the heat index was now 96 degrees. Because they were acting like it was the first week of April out there.

Second song: "La Lambada"

I've never played this song but I knew we had a few Cubans in attendance and since it was requested, I figured I'd give the Americans a rest and let the Cubans take over the dance floor for 3:42.

The dance floor GREW. Americans, Cubans, Scottish, Japanese, Russians .... it was a United Nations session on the dance floor as it got to be elbow-to-elbow on the dance floor.

I was in shock. I would have danced along but honestly, I didn't even know the song.

Third song: "We Didn't Start The Fire"

Okay. Here's where I could send them off to get something to hydrate with. NOBODY was going to dance to this. I knew that already. The bride's little brother requested it and I figured we'd all get a laugh as he danced by himself on the floor while people laughed and cheered him on.

THE DANCE FLOOR GREW EVEN MORE. Who in their right mind would be out there pogoing in formal wear in 96 degree heat? Was there something going on with this crowd that nobody told me? Were they all from an insane asylum and the joke was on me??

I have no idea. All I know is this is how it went for the rest of the night. No matter what I played, no matter how odd the request, these people danced their lives depended on it. By the time we got to the hard rock portion of "Bohemian Rhapsody" (yes you read that right), EVERYONE was head-banging, jumping up and down and screaming at the top of their lungs.

I was in awe.

Like I told them "Since we're all going to be taking showers when we get home anyway, let's earn those showers."

And they did.


I was bummed all day Saturday.

Brian and Amanda hired me almost a year ago for their wedding. They had seen me at two previous weddings and Amanda had fallen in love with my style. She had even stalked me at a bridal show and she knew in her heart she wanted me to be the DJ at her wedding.

Fortunately it worked out and a deal was signed.

Then came the bad news. She was going to be breaking almost all of my rules for a successful wedding reception.

1) It was an afternoon wedding and reception.

2) There would be an alcohol.

3) It was in the church fellowship hall. I'm sorry, I'm a former Catholic Altar Boy. I have a lot of respect for the Lord's House. And I'm under the impression that the Lord wouldn't approve of people getting down to the "Wobble" or "Baby Got Back" in his house.

So while Amanda was counting on a reception like her previous experiences with me, I just could not think of a way to make it happen. You can't break my rules and have a successful reception.

....Or so I always had thought anyway.

I started to play some uptempo music and just for kicks I thought I'd try to see if people would be responsive to dance. So I said a few things on the mic (which I won't go into here because I'm DEFINITELY going to try them again someday) and a small dance floor started. Nothing huge and most of the guests were just watching the people on the floor.

Then I tried something I had read about, heard about and been told to try ... but had never tried. I guess I just always thought it really wasn't my "style" so I stayed away from it.

And when I tried it, the dance floor EXPLODED. It even caught my good friends Heath and Amy Stone with Stone Images Photography off-guard. They went scrambling for their cameras and began snapping photos of this because it was like a Bigfoot sighting. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. A FULL dance floor within a minute. Honestly, I wasn't even READY for people to dance ... I was really just kind of messing with the guests more than anything.

This sent me to scrambling as well. I wasn't about to let a full dance floor go to waste. Whatever I played next worked because faces lit up, more people came to the dance floor and Heath, Amy and I stood on the stage with our jaws dropped, We all had the same feelings going into this: A crowd sitting on their hands while the hours past. Suddenly we were faced with a dance floor that would rival the craziest frat party's Saturday night dance floor after a football win.

"What did you do?" Heath asked.

I gave him the only response I could muster.

"I don't know" I said blankly. "They just ... were there".

And this is how it went for the rest of the party. Defying all "party logic", these people proved my rules were stupid and useless. They were here to celebrate Brian and Amanda and they weren't going to let little things like sunlight and sobriety get in their way. We had probably the longest Conga line I've ever seen weaving through the Fellowship Hall, in between tables and the dance floor and EVERYONE IN THE ROOM was on that Conga line. It was so long you couldn't distinguish the front from the back. They sang when they said they couldn't sing. They danced even when I didn't want them to dance (Yes, there are times when I don't want your guests to dance. Just ask me and I'll explain).

As the party began to wind down it looked as if a hurricane had blown through. The floor was littered with glow sticks. Amanda was barely able to walk after dancing in her heels the whole time. Brian made the decision to end the party a little early so we got glow sticks passed out to everyone, turned all the lights off and as Brian and Amanda danced in the middle of a circle illuminated in glow sticks to Semisonic's "Closing Time", I stood there in awe, wondering how I could have been so wrong about such a party.

The truth is ... the one rule that they adhered to was the hardest rule of all ... everyone Brian and Amanda invited were FUN people. You have to have guests who are ready to have fun if your party is going to be any fun. If you invite a bunch of fuddy-duddys, your party is going to be more like a funeral than a celebration. All it took was a little coaxing and they took over and turned this into one of the craziest parties in recent memory.

So a big thank you to Patrick, Alyssa, Brian and Amanda. Between the four of you, you taught me to not prejudge a party based on facts and wait until I get the chance to be in front of your guests and be given the opportunity to rock their socks off.

Today, Sunday morning, I am beyond exhausted.

But this is the best exhaustion I have ever felt.

Thank you again!

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