Elementary School Age Parties:
Are they to young to Dance? That really depends on what you're trying to accomplish and who is going to be attending the dance. It also depends on the maturity of the kids themselves. Generally, Elementary Schools normally have either an end-of-the-year 5th or 6th grade only dance or a family night involving all grades and the parents.
In either of these situations, the answer is no, they are not to young to have a dance. An end-of-the-year dance for 5th or 6th grade classes is like a quasi prom. It is an opportunity for some to spend one last time with their friends before moving onward to a larger Middle School. It also prepares them for future dances in Middle and High School. And at this age, they are mature enough to participate in the group dances and with each other and still young enough to enjoy some fun games.
With an all grade dance, the younger ones will generally follow their older siblings and friends. Though 1st through 4th graders have much shorter attention spans and may be a little cautious about dancing with one another; they will enthusiastically participate in the group dances and games as well as dance in larger groups of friends. These dances are great for introducing social skills to the younger ones and they feel secure knowing that their parents are right there to watch over or participate with them.
What should the DJ do and for how long? Most Elementary School aged dances should not be more than 2 hours of dancing time; perhaps 3 hours if dinner or dessert breaks are scheduled. The philosophy of "wishing there was more time, rather than wishing it would end soon" truly applies here. Most DJs will have enough games and group dances mixed in with dance music to last about 2 hours. Generally, the DJ will play a game (like the limbo) or have a group dance (like the electric slide or macarena) every 10 to 15 minutes. In between the games or group dances, the DJ will play a variety of music and requests. This approach keeps everyone activeand the party moving; especially for those with shorter attention spans and those who are not into dancing.
What type of Music should be played? Well, basically, Elementary School Aged children either like what their older siblings like or what their parents like and generally it is the later of the two. This age group dances to everything from Chubby Checker's,"The Twist" to Coolio's "1, 2, 3, 4 Sumpthin' New". Generally, the dance classics are always played throughout the night (Celebration, Old Time Rock n Roll, Footloose, YMCA, The Beatles, At The Hop) and some of the very popular newer music is mixed in (Ace of Base, Real McCoy, Coolio, Mariah Carey). DJs will always shy away from playing songs with suggestive or obscene connotation or lyrics for this group and due to time limitations will stick with just the best of the best songs that will please the most people.
The PTA has very little money!!! This is generally the case for most counties, you are not alone. In the past, schools have raised money by charging a nominal fee at the door and selling food, drink and novelty (glow sticks, sunglasses, leies) items. Other schools sponsor family nights with spaghetti dinners or "bring your own food" picnics outdoors to help attract more interest.
Most school events occur on weeknights, which are slower periods for the average DJ company. It is easier to offer special school discounts when the dance occurs on an off night (Monday - Thursday and sometimes Fridays) or off times (between 2pm - 6pm). Most DJ companies enjoy being part of the community as well as the exposure and will gladly offer a special rate for elementary schools. But, keep in mind that there are alot of Elementary Schools in one area and special discounts can only be applied when there is availability; the second and third weeks of June are peak times for DJ companies, even during the week.
What about the adults? Adults are always encouraged to participate in a school dance. The kids see it, they love it and they think it is cool. Many DJs will include the adults in group dances like YMCA or Macarena or even Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances and it is always important for the adults to show support. "Actions speak louder than words" and "set examples by doing" philosophies definately apply here. Adults are also asked to keep an eye out for "drifters" or "trouble makers" and encourage the "wallflowers" to participate. With the adults participating and helping out with watching over the children, the DJ can concentrate on the music, the games and keeping the party fun.
I'm just having a birthday party!!! Well, this is not unusual. Many parents have DJs at their son's or daughter's birthday parties for this age group. Most of what has been discussed above should still apply. Check with your child first and make sure that dancing and a DJ is really what he or she wants and that his or her friends are going to participate. (Check out our Exceptional Vendors Lists for alternative entertainment) Discuss rules and expectations beforehand with your children as well as asking the parents of the ones being invited to do the same.
Most of the games and group dances can be just as fun , if not more so, with a smaller group. The DJ will probally rely more on these than just straight dancing. (Check out the Mitzvah Reception Section, sub section GAMES, for ideas and types of games that can be played) Also, to help save a little money, consider Sunday afternoons or Friday after school parties and check with your daughter's or son's friend's parents to combine two parties in one and share the expense. A small community center, pizza and cake is really all you need for this age group and the excitement of being with friends and having a party with a DJ will create enough of an atmosphere to have a great time!!!
Middle School Age Parties:
What is mashing and these other terms? This is not the same as doing the mash potato!!! Mashing and Slam Dancing is the act of throwing oneself at another during a dance. Head Banging is simply standing in a circle and nodding ones head frantically to the beat of the music. Crowd Diving or Crowd Passing is diving into a group of people, hoping they will catch the person, then having the crowd pass the person over the top of their heads and dropping him/her at the end. These acts are usually done to Heavy Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Fast Alternative, "Banger Music" and "Mashing Music" like songs. Obviously because of the potential liability, excluding Head Banging, most DJ's and schools do not allow this type of behavior. Though the music itself is harmless and fun, many DJs will not play, or even carry, this type of music because of the potential dangers and that a few teenagers just can't help themselves when they hear it. If your son, or daughter, is requesting this type of music for his or her party, please explain to them the "legal" ramifications involved if someone was to get hurt at the party as well as the possible dangers of injury. Generally, and we really regret having to say this, but most of this music is not dancable in the normal sense. It is fun to listen too and if your child is insistent on having only this, perhaps you should consider having "a sit" party, instead of a dance.
What about freaking? Well.. that is just a very, ahhh erotic and close way two people dance together. Sometimes there are three people involved, called a sandwich, with two of one gender on the outside and the opposite gender in the middle. Though dancing like this is totally harmless, in may offend some parents. If this may be an issue, discuss it with your DJ beforehand as well as your child.
Do I need chaperones? Yes, it is highly suggested, but it also depends on the maturity of the group. The presence of other adults, besides the DJ, helps keep the teens focused on the dance and not mischief. It also helps the DJ concentrate on his/her job of mixing the music and leading the games, as opposed to disiplining the group. DJs are there to lead the fun, not babysit.
Generally, a couple of parents per 10 kids is suggested. Chaperones are encouraged to participate, - like holding the limbo stick, judging the dance contest, taking pictures and sometimes even joining in with the dancing - but at times can be just as effective being present. If you are planning a party, have some things for the chaperones to do. Be it a game of cards in the corner or serving beverages and food to the kids, keeping them active is also important.
What are the types of Music that should be played? Middle School aged kids are finding their identity through the music they listen to. You did it, your parents did it and now it is your kids turn. But, with this generation, the categories of music are vast. Most DJs will bring dance oriented music, shying away from heavy metal and heavy rap (less regional and ethnic differences). "Dance oriented" music can range from the Oldies to Old School (80's R and B) to Disco to Top Forty to Techno and Alternative (not all Alternative and Progressive music is Banger Music). The safest bet is to go middle of the road and playing the popular music of today, blended with group dances and selective disco and oldies. DJs will definitely shy away from playing obscene songs and artists and can limit the amount of slow dancing to your preference. Check out the Sound Center Sample Music list, under the 90's subsection for more ideas and review the songs with your son or daughter. These songs are based on major radio play for Progressive and Top Forty radio stations. If you have any questions about requested songs, the dancability of a song or song content, make a list and discuss with your DJ service
I'm having a private party!!! First, don't fear... teenagers are inherently fun, just a little strange at times!!! For Middle School aged kids, we suggest no more than a three hour party. The party does not have to be extravagant, but a little planning does help (see General FAQ's section about planning). Pizza, chips and dip and soda is probally the most common requested food items needed for this age group. Small community centers or even a basement or outdoors on a large patio can work well. If the party is outside, set ground rules and boundaries on how far they are allowed to wander and have chaperones take turns minding the grounds.
Some other tips are to check on who is being invited? Have your son and daughter write up a list of names and try to only invite those people. The more friends of friends who are invited, the more problems you may expect. Get phone numbers and check with the parents to make sure it is okay for their child to come and encourage the parents to come up and meet you when they are dropping off their child.
Another tip is to try and have an equal boy to girl ratio! Generally, girl parties are more fun, because girls are not as inhibited to dance with each other as boys are. An all boys party is an ingredient for disaster. And for some strange reason, the presence of an equal amount of boys and girls, help reduce the boys from getting into mischief. It is also nice to be able to "quiet" them down with a boys ask girls or girls ask boys slow dance.
High School Age Parties:
Sponsored School Dances: Many High Schools have dances throughout the year as means to raise funds for the particular class sponsoring the dance. As with most parties with a large amount of people with various musical tastes, expect the DJ to play a mix of music. A normal High School dance is usually about three to four hours. Theme parties can work well if the students are encouraged to participate with costumes, such as discount ticket prices if they dress the part. Other options to help make the dance more sucessful is to have specific "classes only" dances, such as Freshman only nights.
Proms and Homecomings: DJs for Proms and Homecomings work well because DJs offer more variety than a band and are less expensive. DJs can also take requests, help emcee the introduction of the Prom or Homecoming Court, and make special dedications throughout the night. The music will probally be more middle of the road Top 40, Techno and Alternative blended with group dances and plenty of slow songs. The biggest problem most schools have is getting the students to show up, showing up on time and staying to the end. Some ideas that have worked in the past to increase attendance is offering door prize tickets early and doing the drawings later as well as discounts for photographs and entrance to the dance if they show up by a certain time. Door prizes can be donated by area merchants with videos, music and food items and the DJs can advertise their names throughout the night.
All Night Grad Parties: A DJ at an All Night Graduation or After Prom party is usually used more for atmosphere than dancing. This is normally the case when many other activities are going on and these activities are spread throughout the location. DJs can be used for special events, such as limbo contest or dance contest at specific times. The best place to locate the DJ is away from other "musical" vendors, such as Karaoke, but near the center of most activities. In some cases, you may want to set up a few extra activities in the same room as the DJ with the food and beverages, if a majority of the activities are located elsewhere. This keeps the flow of students in and out of the room and increases the possibility of getting the students to dance. Check out the Karaoke section for more ideas and consider using a DJ/Karaoke Combo for smaller locations or tighter budgets.
Sweet 16's: Sweet 16 parties are still very common and a DJ is perfect for a tight budget. Some parents go as far as holding the event in a hotel or a restaurant with banquet facilities and others use community centers or their own home. The normal amount of time for a Sweet 16 party is between three to four hours, including dinner or lunch and a cocktail (mingling) period. Music can range from the Top 40 to Techno to Alternative, blended in with classic oldies, disco and a few group dances, like Electric Slide, C'mon Ride da Train and Macarena. Chaperones should be present and rules should be discussed beforehand with your daughter and her friends. Oh.. and take a lot of pictures!!!
Other private High School parties: There are many reasons to have parties for your High School aged children and a DJ is the perfect type of entertainment. Also, DJ/Karaoke Combos work well with this age group. Normal High School parties run about three to four hours and the music will vary, depending on the type of party and if there are a number of adults attending as well. Summer Bar B Q's and graduation parties are the most common and for a better price, consider having the event on a Sunday afternoon. Chaperones should be present and rules should be discussed beforehand with your child and their friends.
What should and shouldn't I expect of the DJ? Generally, a DJ should show up about an hour before the start of the event (a few companies charge for set up, check with them when discussing the price). The DJ is there to keep the party moving with games and music, but is not there to "babysit". The more times the DJ has to spend disciplining, the less fun the party will be, which is why chaperones are always expected. The DJ should be expected to conduct him/herself professionally, refrain from drinking alcohol and smoking during the party, dress appropriately, attempt to refrain from playing music with offensive or obscene lyrics, and generally be flexible and work with the group. Most DJ services will provide planner sheets and sample music lists for the customer to fill out. Take the time to review the planners, music, and expectations and questions with the DJ before the event. DJs normally will take request, but should be allowed the flexibility and professional judgement to play those songs which are appropriate. If you have "favorite" songs, indicate those songs to the DJ beforehand.
How much planning is involved? This of course is going to depend on the type of party and the age group you are working with. But some planning should always occur. Beyond the normal planning stages of booking a DJ service, location of the event and what food to serve, you may want to outline how you expect the affair to go. Discuss these ideas with your entertainment and listen for feedback. Most DJ services have performed at hundreds of parties like yours and have valuable insight on what and what doesn't work. Little things like scheduling a clown or a magician before the DJ starts, as opposed to in the middle of the party, allows you to stretch the party out longer and gives you more"bang for the buck" in the sense that the DJ isn't idle. If you bring in other activities like Ping Pong or Air Hockey, turn them into competitions and have the DJ help emcee the final tournament. This will also allow the chaperones to get involved by keeping score and it helps the kids to stay focused on the competition, as opposed to just messing around. Planning a party for you children should not be over taxing, but on the otherhand, your extra efforts will help the party become more successful.
How much lead time do I need to book a DJ? This is a common question for any party and it depends on the month of the party and the DJ service you are using. Typically, 6 months lead time for booking a DJ is recommended and up to a year if a specific DJ is preferred. With most DJ services, Saturdays are their busiest days of the week and peak season is April - June and September - December, excluding November. Friday nights and Sundays are generally not as busy and you may expect a lower price as compared to the Saturday Night prices and more selection of DJs for these days.
What should I expect to provide? Different DJ services have different needs, be sure to check with them for anything special. In most cases, you should be able to expect to provide at least a six foot table and a power supply close by. Banquet tables can be rented from your caterer or party supply stores, or, if you've always wanted a great fold up banquet/utility table, try an office store like Staples. A sturdy six foot utility table only costs about $40. Most DJ equipment can connect into a normal three prong home electrical outlet and the amps drawn are no more than some of your larger appliances. If your party is outdoor, you will probally need to provide some covering or a tent for the DJ in case of rain and to protect their equipment from direct sunlight. If the location is away from the house, be sure to use outdoor extension cords and find ways to secure them down so your friends won't trip over them. If the party is at night, your DJ may require some form of lighting... again, check with your DJ service and they will be able to supply answers specific to their needs.
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Last updated 02/07/97