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Family Dance Mix: 20 Tracks For Kids of All Ages

Posted by on March 21, 2013


DJing on the radio at KEXP and spinning a live room are drastically different.

In the radio box you are broadcasting into space. Your biggest view of your audience is online. You’ll hear what songs the listeners like on social media, get emails from all over the world and write back and forth about music.

Commanding a live room with sound is much more difficult.

It’s hard to imagine a more honest form of feedback. If the crowd doesn’t like the groove they clear the dancefloor. That leaves you with an empty space and the even harder task of bringing them back in.

It was only recently that I started doing real family gigs. It’s a real art to find tracks the kids love and that don’t make the parents crazy.

This mix works for all ages. By now each song has been tested in a variety of party situations.

You’ll find legendary artists like: James Brown, The Beatles, The Gogos, Young MC, Abba, The Clash, The Scissor Sisters and Blondie.

These are mostly familiar tracks (since most people won’t dance to songs they don’t know) from the genres of soul, funk, hip-hop, pop and rock. I also sneak in a newer track or two.

1. James Brown – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”

The perfect party warmup, this 1965 track is known as the first funk single. No other artist except maybe Michael Jackson is as surefire to bring your partygoers to the dancefloor.


2. The Beatles – “Twist and Shout”

I love John Lennon’s sassy introduction to this 1963 song from their “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” era. Like many of the best dance tracks this one tells you to move your body.


3. Richie Valens – “La Bamba”

This Richie Valens crossover hit is one of my favorites from childhood. It was on a record left behind in my dad’s 1950s collection. Though it was released way back in 1958 the beat and energy are still undeniable.


4. The Romantics – “What I Like About You”

Detroit pop-rock band The Romantics tore up the airwaves with this in 1990. It still shakes up a room in the best way.


5. Parliament – “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off…)”

This 1976 funk classic is the heart of the 70s – a decade of creative freedom and soulful music. Download the shorter version when you make your mix.


6. Ursula 1000 –  “Electrik Boogie”

New York City DJ Ursula 1000 brings in an easy-to-dance-to club track from 2007. This is the kind of less familiar track that I like to sneak in between classics when spinning a party.


7. Sonny J –  “Can’t Stop Movin'”

A more modern and even less familiar song from 2007, this Jackson 5-influenced sound takes the energy up a notch but still feels like song they’ve heard before.


8. Jackson 5 –  “ABC”

Young Michael Jackson was one of the best musical performers of all time when this song dropped in 1970. The kid in all of us loves this track.


9. Scissor Sisters – “Take Your Mama Out”

This 2004 acoustic-guitar based pop track will get the whole family on the dancefloor.


10. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy”

From 1982 this edgy rock hit has a bit of the gogo in it. All the best rock songs do.


11. The Clash  – “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”

One of the greatest bands of all time, the Clash were experts in pop, punk and rock. Anyone can identify with the dilemma presented in this catchy 1982 rock track.


12. Blondie – “Dreaming”

From 1979 this pop song is sexy and sophisticated.


13. The Ohio Players – “Love Rollercoaster”

Disco is underrated. This 1975 dance song reminds us that some music is just supposed to be fun.


14. Young MC – “Bust A Move”

This vintage 1989 hip-hop joint is undeniably motion-oriented.


15. Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”

From Michael’s best album Off The Wall this single is the anthem of true dancers. It also has the tendency to bring anyone who’s been hovering, considering a dance, into the action.

I love this stage of the set because you see who your dedicated dancers are going to be for the rest of the evening.


16. Soul II Soul – “Back To Life”

From 1989 this soulful hip-hop song is dancefloor magic.


17. Abba – “Dancing Queen”

This ochestral pop hit from Swedish band Abba gets almost every crowd in the mood.


18. The Monkees – “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone”

From way back in 1966, the groove on this Monkees song brings in go-go and pre-punk riffs.


19. The Gogos – “We Got The Beat”

Girl band the Gogos released this energetic pop hit in 1980.


20. Otis Day and the Knights – “Shout”

This final track of my family dance mix reaches out and grabs the audience with dynamite soul dynamics and a call to the dancing beast in all of us.


Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features forThe SmithsonianExperience Music Projectthe University of Washington and NPR.


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