Back in the ‘90s and early ‘2000s days of mobile DJing, you’d always go to parties and hear the same thing for cocktail (and/or, God forbid…) dinner hour: elevator music.

Whether it was the odious but necessary Kenny G and David Sanborn pap or the wildly popular at the time “New Age” music (noodling) of Andreas Vollenweider and his Windham Hill brethren, we were all being transported to the Great Beige Benign of the music world for at least two hours at every party, after which we’d have to attempt to resuscitate our audiences to the point that they could actually arise from their chairs (or perhaps an impromptu nap on the floor) and try to move their limbs vigorously enough to simulate dancing.

Do I sound a little sardonic here? I’m sorry. You’ll have to forgive me, you see, because I had to live through it!

OK – enough: so here’s the good news – it’s 2023 and we have come so far! We are in a time when the vast “musicverse”, if you will, is easily explored and we can choose from many paths that help us discover new and wonderful music based on what we have already liked and chosen before. Via things like Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon and YouTube, we are also able to see what others have chosen as well, based on liking the same things, and can take self-guided tours from there.

So, how does this play into your party planning? Well, in the past, you could try to describe a certain style to your DJ and go out on a bit of a limb to try and give your event a bit of a different or unique flavor, but now, you can precisely identify exactly what you like and easily share it with your DJ and then, at the event, with your guests.

This of course is a great thing, but you should take a moment to understand the power that you wield here via the music: as always, the music can make or break your party!

Consider this: when people are standing, talking and drinking or sitting and eating, they are not being actively engaged or solicited by the music or being asked to dance to it. It is exclusively a listening or even just an ambient background environment. The good news here is that you can play pretty much anything you want during this time and not have to be liable for the dance floor result that it will produce. You essentially have musical impunity! Thus, it is the perfect time to express yourself and inject your personality into the event. Ideally, during this time, your guests should be thinking to themselves “this is SO Mike and Tina!” and really feeling that they are at your wedding and not just a wedding… get it? : )

Now, when you are actively engaging and soliciting your guests by asking them to dance to a song, that’s different. The best thing to do here, especially at the start of the dance set, is to try to find the center – the middle ground where everyone meets and enjoys and understands and participates. I mean, you could continue to play your wildly esoteric crazy music here, but just be prepared to be leading a parade with no followers behind you. Not pre-judging here, just trying to help keep it real re. your expectations. In conclusion, the moral of the story is have fun, go crazy and personalize the heck out of your cocktail and dinner hours (I suggest that you give each “chapter” of the story its own feel), but when it comes time for the dance music, think of the dancers first… think of the party first… and you’ll not go wrong.