Shall we dance?


When I was at school I dreamt of throwing those awesome house parties you see in movies.  Parents out for the night, open house, let’s break the lock off the drinks cabinet and have some fun, right?  It never quite happened.  Sure, there were evenings when the ‘rents would clear out (with full disclosure, of course) and I’d dutifully await the throng of teens eager to get this party started.  It’s not like nobody ever came, but it’s definitely like not everybody came.  My big moment never quite materialised.  I was never the hostess with the mostest.  It turns out I’m a better guest than a host.  But now I’m getting married.  Suddenly, the true significance of what I’m about to do has dawned; getting married means I’m throwing a huge party.  A party people are obligated to come to.  And will expect not to suck.

The ceremony is easy, given that it’s pretty much taken care of in its entirety by the registrar and the venue.  Sit guests in room, play music, walk in, ‘ooo’ ‘ahhh’, I do, he does, done.  But what do you do next?  Photos, apparently, which should take some time.  A few drinks, some milling about and congratulating one another.  Then what?  The wedding breakfast will certainly kill some time and if you throw in the speeches, you should have secured everyone’s attention for a good few hours by this point.  And then it’s on to the reception proper, which begs the question: what makes good wedding entertainment?

One thing is certain.  When at a wedding, people like to dance.  There aren’t many opportunities in life for a good old shindig where the assembled masses can shake their thing from dusk ’til dawn.  There’s a snag here, though.  Our guestlist ranges from 7 – 70.  Unlike my imagined house parties there’s no predetermined style – the kids might be happy dancing to Hannah Montana, but I doubt the grownups will.  Likewise, there are some grownups who would be content with nothing but The Rolling Stones, others who love a good old seventies disco, those whose loyalties lie with Lady Gaga and even one who can regularly be found spinning for the Dubstep scene.  Whatever that is.  Apparently you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

I pondered this thorny issue for not very long at all before settling on at least one definite: there will not be a DJ.  The thought of ‘Oh What A Night’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ being inflicted on the eardrums of my nearest and dearest fills me with dread.  As does the prospect of the dancefloor being hijacked by an over-zealous Alan Partridge wannabe armed with a microphone and a copy of ‘Love Shack’.  Factoring in the eclectic range of musical tastes making an appearance leaves the horrifying thought that each person might only end up hearing two songs they like and covering their battered ears for the rest.  I’m probably overreacting, but this kind of uncertainty very nearly brings me out in hives.

We’re left with a choice: live entertainment or DIY.  DIY has its own raft of issues, ranging from sound system to playlist and while I’m happy to spend time creating a set for, say, a car journey I think the stress of creating a smooth, flowing playlist for 3 hours of wedding reception might do me in.  So it looks like the decision is made by default.  It’s got to be live entertainment.

I’m not suggesting this doesn’t come with its own back catalogue of difficulties.  Not by a long shot.  First, we need to narrow down the genre.  A Kings of Leon wannabe act isn’t going to cut it (too high school), nor is a harpist (too pretentious).  Guests need to be able to dance to it, recognise it and also leave it in the background while sitting in the bar.  The Boy came through with words of wisdom.  “It’s our wedding,” he said.  “Let’s have what we like.” What do we like?  A whole range of things, but for this I think we like something that crosses generations, has a broad spectrum of sounds and tempos and that people can dance to.  A jazz band it is.  Hours were spent trawling through the not insignificant number of duos, trios and quartets available for hire.  Too slow.  Too obscure.  Don’t like the vocalist’s sound.  Too expensive.  Sounds like a cheap hotel bar.  The list of ‘no’s goes on and on.

Eventually we settled on a trio with a vocalist, piano/guitar and double bass.  Will people dance? I’m hopeful.