Spinning dance sets as a club DJ is much harder than being on the radio. There is no more direct feedback in the world than having the dance floor clear. When you’re getting people to dance live it’s all about responding to what the crowd does.
Even more challenging is playing sets for adults and kids. I go for the songs that work as adult dance classics, but also give the kids beats and words that will inspire them to shake it.
Here are five dance songs that will work with kids of any age.
Let’s start with the greatest party dancer of all time, the creator of funk music – James Brown. He gets us going with “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”
The Beatles swing in next with the rock classic “Twist and Shout.” Songs that tell kids to move their body go over really well.
Kids love hip-hop. I’m not above playing the occasional top hit (if it’s a good song), but Young MC’s “Bust a Move” works just as well and has that crazy-cool chorus.
The very best rock songs for dancing have a go-go feel. Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” amps up the energy so much it’s practically undeniable.
If you are spinning a party and the dance floor clears, there are a few songs from James Brown and Michael Jackson that almost always bring them back. For Michael Jackson I’m partial to his early “Off the Wall” album and the song “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”
Just try not to dance to this. I dare you!
Still want more, you’ll find a set of 20 songs for kids of all ages here in my Family Dance Mix.
Tune in to Michele Fridays at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features for Experience Music Project, the University of Washington, The Smithsonian and NPR.