Earlier this month, I attended the annual Mobile Beat DJ Conference in Las Vegas. This was my 23rd straight year attending, and as usual it was a great week of networking, learning, and a little bit of Vegas-style fun. There were quite a few great seminars about marketing, gear, and performance. My favorite presentation was called “Why People Dance” by New Jersey based Mike Walter who runs one of the largest DJ entertainment companies on the East Coast…Elite Entertainment. Mike’s seminar dealt with the different types of people who attend parties, and why most everyone falls into one of three groups…DANCERS, SKEPTICS, and SITTERS. Understanding who these people are in the crowd and why they are all important is key to being a good DJ. To be honest, this is stuff that most veteran DJs know already subliminally just from reading a crowd for many years, but I never thought about these three types of guests from a purely psychological standpoint and it was really interesting.
Here’s a breakdown of the three groups…the DANCERS are real party people who are out there on the dancefloor most of the night, and will be shaking it to just about everything most of the night from oldies to hip hop. They need little encouragement and are usually a DJ’s best friend. But the SKEPTICS are equally important to a party, and at most weddings, are usually the largest of the three groups. These are folks that need a reason to get out of their seats, and are sometimes looking for a reason to sit back down. Awkward song transitions and genre changes can easily send them back to their seats. The SITTERS rarely dance (for a variety of reasons listed in the next paragraph) and will only get on a dance floor for their all-time favorite song or if Uncle Steve drags them out there. Mike noted during his presentation that DJs should never “force or guilt” a sitter into dancing, and I totally agree with that…but hey, if Uncle Steve does it, it’s fine by me. Sitters, interestingly are the best source of referrals for DJs because if you can get them out to dance, you’re doing a great job. Some of my favorite online reviews are the ones where the bride mentions something like, “Ron’s music even got my Aunt Edith out there…and she never dances!” I love the challenge of having some Aunt Edith’s in the crowd.
So what are the top reasons people dance? Obviously celebration is the most obvious. A person’s attraction to their dance partner is another. Dancing for ritual is embraced in many ethnic cultures, and finally.. to escape life’s reality, or maybe forget life’s problems. Here are the top reasons Mike pointed out as to why people DON’T DANCE…Maybe they don’t know the song, or they’re not in the mood to dance. Other reasons guests don’t dance is they don’t like the song, or possibly lack the confidence to get on the dancefloor. Maybe it’s simply that there is no one on the dancefloor, and they don’t want to be the first one out there.
Most of Mike’s information was garnered from an online survey he put together in the months leading up to the conference. This is an ongoing survey, and is totally anonymous. If you’d like to take the survey (it’s only 10 questions) and contribute to the database, here’s the URL: