Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mr. DJ

Anyone who's known me long enough has heard my rants about wedding DJs who play the same hackneyed old songs over and over again. You know the playlist: Celebration. Old Time Rock and Roll. We Are Family. Brick House. The Chicken Dance/Polka. The Electric Slide. Baby Got Back. Sweet Caroline, for crying out loud. Blah, blah, blah.

But here's the thing. I've come to believe that these songs are essential to the wedding experience. Now before you go hitting me upside the head and asking me if I've lost my damn mind, allow me to explain.

A couple weekends ago, I worked a wedding that was nothing short of remarkable. There was more food at the reception than I've ever seen, the decorations were superb, the food was excellent, and the people were happy. The couple had hired a team of DJs, who came with an elaborate setup that included two big-screen TVs, four (count 'em, FOUR) DJs, a light show, video cameras, and a still photographer who snapped candids that were played on the TVs throughout the night (alternating with footage from videos, random video effects, and even live video from the floor). Sounds like a recipe for fun, right?

Well, kind of. The DJs did an admirable job; in fact, I commented at the time that it was like going to a really cool club, with all the attendant atmosphere and music.

But ultimately, that was the problem. It was like going to a club. Something I can do any weekend night. It wasn't like going to a wedding. Oh, sure...the dance floor was full, the musical transitions were seamless, and everyone had a good time. But when the night was over, I realized they had done none of the traditional dances. And when the DJ started to pack up for the night, the crowd insisted they play One. More. Song.

Guess what they asked for?

"The Cha-Cha slide".

Yep. Even the alcohol-infused guests had figured it out. This was a WEDDING, dammit, and they wanted to dance to those old wedding chestnuts. The DJ pulled out some other unknown song for the encore, once again showing that while "Daddy may know best", it's also possible to completely misread a crowd.

I'd hire these guys in an instant for a private party. But for a wedding? Never. The next time I find myself complaining about hearing "YMCA" for the umpteenth time at a wedding reception, I'm going to do my level best to remember this one. It may have been trendy...but it wasn't good.