30 Songs to Get Your Guests on the Dance Floor

little kid dancing at a wedding

A friend recently told me her biggest fear about her wedding is that people won’t dance. So I asked friends on Facebook for surefire songs to get guests on the dance floor. Here’s what they came up, with a few additions of my own:

  1. “I Want You Back,” Jackson 5 — I’ve written about the dancing allure of “I Want You Back” before, and when I asked friends for suggestions, this song came up immediately. Also, I personally witnessed a wedding last weekend that started the dance set with this song. It did indeed bring the crowd to the dance floor.
  2. “Groove Is in the Heart,” Deee-Lite
  3. “Get Down On It,” Kool & the Gang
  4. “Love Shack,” B-52s
  5. “It Takes Two,” Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
  6. “All the Single Ladies,” Beyonce
  7. “Hey Ya,” OutKast
  8. “Jungle Boogie,” Kool & the Gang
  9. “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train),” Quad City DJ
  10. “Come On Eileen,” Dexys Midnight Runners
  11. “Shout,” the Isley Brothers
  12. “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Bon Jovi — People don’t so much dance as wail this song and make big sweeping arm movements. Still, it’s funny.
  13. “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond — Sweet Caroline produces a similar reaction to Livin’ on a Prayer, strangely enough, though people are more likely to throw their arms over someone’s shoulder and sway to the music.
  14. “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Def Leopard — Another wailer.
  15. “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” They Might Be Giants — This one sounds like a strange choice, but for the right age group (30-ish), it’s a hit and will result in lots of jumping up and down.
  16. “Upside Down,” Diana Ross
  17. “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins
  18. “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen — It’s probably going to get tired any day now, but I saw a crowd get down with wild abandon to it this weekend.
  19. “Vogue,” Madonna — Expect people to actually vogue — and expect to laugh at it.
  20. “Thriller,” Michael Jackson — People like to dance like zombies.
  21. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” Michael Jackson
  22. “Kiss,” Prince
  23. “You Shook Me All Night Long,” AC/DC
  24. “Celebration,” Kool & the Gang
  25. “Build Me Up Buttercup,” the Foundations
  26. “Twist & Shout,” Beatles
  27. “Independent Women,” Destiny’s Child
  28. “1999,” Prince
  29. “Back in Black,” AC/DC
  30. “Dancing With Myself,” Billy Idol

I had no idea Kool & the Gang would get so many shout-outs.

Two things to note: Keep the age of your audience in mind. This playlist would probably go over best with a 30ish crowd. Also, don’t forget regional classics! A friend from Tennessee told me the song that got the biggest reaction at his wedding was “Rocky Top.” As a former Tennessean myself, I have to admit: I dance my little heart out to this one every single time. The couple hosting the Michigan wedding I attended last weekend had similar thinking in mind when they played “California” for the many Californians in the crowd.  So play songs that will tap into the regional pride of your guests.

Tweak the above list to your liking and hand it to your DJ as songs you would like to hear at your reception. Oh, and check out my dancing roundup post that has all sorts of music tips on first dances, reception entrance songs and more.

Please add to the list! What songs have you seen that caused a dancing frenzy?

Photo by David Bracho

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40 Comments

  1. We had a live 6-piece jazz ensemble play jazz standards all night.– Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael. Almost everyone danced — it was romantic. The choices above are great for high-school reunions, clubbing and the like, but after all we do to make a wedding reception beautiful and elegant a lot of people jiggling around to “Groove is in the Heart” (or any other song on that dubious list) doesn’t add anything to the mix.

  2. A six-piece jazz ensembles sounds wonderful! But I don’t see anything wrong with playing songs from clubs you know your guests will dance to either. It all depends on what you’re going for and what you think your particular guests will like.

  3. as a dj… honestly… you never know til you read the crowd. definitely great choices up there. i always ensure brides know they are in control of their music. any dj that does not take down a short or long list of your songs you want to hear is not a dj you want. keep in mind though, we’re here to help and if you have chosen 30 slow songs, we’re their to help you intertwine your choices with what will make the crowd get up. strange things do happen… i played the cha cha once and the dance floor was empty. crazy! give your dj room to tweak as the night progresses but make sure they know what you want – make that dj earn his money!

  4. I agree that the crowd and tone of the wedding is what dictates. If I had jazz music playing the entire time at my wedding there would have been a lot of people sitting- and my husband and I are in our 30’s as were most of our guests. One of the biggest hits of the night was “Shake Your Tail Feather” from the Blue Brothers movie, awesome tune!

  5. “Shake Your Tail Feather” is a perfect example of a song some people would go wild for and leave others saying, “Huh?” Thanks so much for sharing, Gabrielle — you’re right, you’ve got to know your audience!

  6. i love that groove is in the heart made the list. i have it on my ipod and dance to it every time it comes on. even at the gym! i’m sure people must think i’m strange. i was surprised bust a move by young mc didn’t make it though. love that one too

  7. This list is great! And Larkin, the one that had the Jazz band, you were probably the one with the dry wedding too I’m guessing?

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