School dances, what all goes into them?

In most of my other blog posts I talk about weddings (since weddings make up at least 75% of my events), but in this particualr blog I wanted to talk about school dances. I’ll be honest, there are some mobile DJ’s  out there who don’t take school dances seriously like they do weddings because there isn’t as much work  and planningthat goes into school dances like there is with weddings. Some DJ’s even think because school dances are for teenagers, their needs really aren’t “important” and they look at a school dance as a way to make a little extra money on a Friday or Saturday when they don’t have a wedding. However, I disagree with that and realize school dances are a very important part of a student’s academic career. I believe in putting everything I have into making sure EVERY event I do is the best that it can be, and that includes school dances. I was once a student myself and remember going to our school dances, and I believe this time is a very important time in a student’s life because 20 or 30 years from now when you look back at your middle / high school years, the dances you attended will be something you will remember. (I still remember the very first song played at my very first dance in 7th grade!)

Why did I start doing school dances?

When I was a middle / high school student, I remember going to the dances our school had. In high school, we used to have “After Football” Dances. Basically, it was a dance held after each home football game in the gym. I can remember seeing the DJ set up in the gym, but I don’t ever remember him talking on a microphone, he didn’t have much of a light show, and he never really interacted with us. It seemed like our “After Football” dances were more of a time for everyone to stand around, talk, and hang out while an “anoymous” DJ played music we really weren’t familiar with.Sure, hanging out with our friends was fun, but isn’t the purpose of a “dance” to actually “dance”?  When I was 15 and a freshman in high school, I can remember thinking “If I ever become a DJ, I will be a DJ who interacts with the students, motivates them, gets them on the dance floor, and makes sure they have fun.” That’s really what inspired me to offer school dances when I became a mobile DJ,.

Since starting SN DJ Entertainment almost 10 years ago, I have done many school dances, and every one of them has been a rewarding experience. My goal with school dances is to make sure the students have fun. Just like I want a bride and groom to walk away from their reception saying “That was the BEST reception I have ever been to!”, I want students to walk away from their school dances saying the same thing. When you are 16 or 17, there is nothing more important to you than your prom, and at that age, your prom should be the highlight of your junior or senior year. Your high school years are a very important time in your life that you will remember forever.

School dance planning

Typically, the first step is for the school to contact us. Usually they find us on the web, or they may recevive our School Dance Information Packet which we send out to all the schools at the beginning of the school year and just after Christmas. We will usually schedule a consultation, and I will go to the school and personally meet with the students. I’ll answer their questions, we’ll talk about whait kind of dance they are having….my goal is to listen to their ideas and make their ideas a reality.

Once a school decides to hire us, I will then send them our School Dance Information Form, which contains informaiton about music, announcements (for example if they want me to announce the Homecoming Court, Prom Court, etc). Then I make sure I have all the music they want. The students can also email me with any questions or suggestions they may have.

The day of the dance

On the day of the dance, I’m usually up early double-checking both my computers (my main computer and the backup) to make sure I have all the music the students requested. I usually try to arrive at the venue (whether it’s at the school or a venue they have rented) at least 2 hours to set up. Once set up, I test out the sound system, light show, and make sure everything is ready to go. I then start playing some “pre-dance” entertainment music, which varies depending on the type of dance. For example, if it’s a Christmas Dance we will play Christmas music as our “pre-dance” entertainment. If it’s a dance held in October, we will play some Halloween music. For all other dances we may play “TV Themes”, which is a mix of popular TV theme songs, or “Children’s Classics”, which is a mix of children’s music (like “Farmer In The Dell”, The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round”, etc). This is just music the students (who arrive early) will hear as they begin to walk in before the dance, it’s not actually a part of the dance. (You can imagine what students’ think when they walk in and hear the TV themes or some of the children’s songs. They often ask me if that’s what I will be playing all night, and then when the dance actually “begins” and we start playing the “cool” music,  they get really happy.)

Once it’s time to actually start the dance, we will cut off the “pre-dance” music, I will introduce myself to the students, we’ll then crank up the lights / sound, and we begin the dance by playing the “dance” music the students requested. Throughout the dance, a clipboard will be provded so the students can write down their requests.

Games and contests

Games and contests will vary depending on the age group and type of school. Here are some of our most popular contests:

Fast / Slow Dance Contest – This contest is very popular for all ages. We take a line dance song (such as the “Cupid Shuffle” or “Cha Cha Slide”) and we “speed it up” or “slow it down”. The object of the contest is to keep up with song as it’s playing fast or slow.

Trivia – This is another game that is good for all ages. We pick a student at random and we ask them a multiple choice trivia question. The questions can be about history, TV shows, music, and more. The other students can help the student answer the question, and we let the student guess until they get the right answer so nobody ever loses with “Trivia”.

Snowball Dances – This type of dance is mainly used for middle school dances. We play a popular song and the students start out dancing with a partner. When they hear the DJ say “Snowball”, they switch partners. We may say “Snowball” about 5 or 6 times throughout the song. The only rule we have is if somone asks you to dance with them, you dance with them. That way all students can participate and nobody feels left out. It’s also a good “ice-breaker” to get students motivated to dance.

Winding Down

When it gets close to the end of the dance, I usually thank the students, wish them well, and then we finish strong by playing the most requested song of the evening as our final song. Once the dance officially ends, we will go back to playing some “post-dance” music (which will be the same as “pre-dance” music). The students will know the dance is over because we will play the “post dance” music at a reduced level and usually the overhead lights will be cut on to begin clean up. After about 10 minutes of “post-dance” music, we will begin our breakdown procedures.

In conclusion,  I spend roughly 10-15 hours on a school dance from the first consultation, the planning, setting up/ breaking down, the performance time, and traveling time. School dances can be very rewarding and there are schools I return to year after year and I love working with them.

See you in the next blog!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in Pensacola, Florida. For more information about his services, please visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.

 

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