All Time Great Party Dance Tunes

I am in love with this Cambridge institution called the Early Night Club - once every couple of months, they turn a tapas bar into a dance club for people who want to get in, get dancing and get out before midnight.

My exuberant love for the place must have been noticeable because the organizer asked me to do a guest DJ spot. It really isn't that big a deal. He is using free guest DJs all night so I am one of many.

But I have to decide what to play. So of course I am looking for all time great party dance tunes. Well, second-tier great party dance tunes. All time great party dance tunes are usually set pieces when a group of people who know and like each other are just relaxing and fooling around. Like acting out Meatball's Baseball Song at a high school reunion (the EHS '86 reunion in '96) or Summer Nights from Grease (too numerous to list and I am kind of bossy about being Sandy). That is definitely the most fun thing ever. It has to be spontaneous and essentially impossible to duplicate. Like a bright moon suddenly appearing over the Carribean sea at exactly the same time CCR's Bad Moon Rising came on the stereo on the boat. (December 2001) Or Sting (when he was cool) going nuts on So Lonely to a live audience at exactly the same time a group of really great friends who really love each other get up from a long, wine-filled dinner. (Washington, 2000). Or you can have it with two people in a car. Like driving from El Paso to Big Bend with J. T. in 1995 and driving from Chicago to Dallas with J.G. in 1989.

It happens a lot at weddings. This and Champagne are why weddings are fun. The last song at my wedding was Tiny Dancer and everyone had their arms around each other in a huge circle singing softly (Brecon, 2002). I was dancing with Rhys in the center and looking at all these people I loved, who had flown into the middle of Wales, so relaxed and happy. (My guests were on the whole phenomenally better behaved at my wedding than I was at theirs now that I think about it)

All Time Great Party Dance Tune moments do not usually happen in nightclubs, which is what the Early Night Club essentially is. Before the Early Night Club I was last in a nightclub circa 2000. I remember very clearly someone telling me (in the middle of a nightclub) that when I was old I wouldn't go to nightclubs all the time. I was furious. I will NEVER stop going to nightclubs, I said. Ah, youth.

So for my set Thursday night I need the great more anonymous party dance tunes. Respect by Erasure springs to mind. That song really commands you to dance. I Don't Feel Like Dancing by Scissor Sisters does too. It's hard to calibrate for age in this crowd and also hard to calibrate for England, because as I have found out from being married to my husband they were listening to all this total crap over here in England in the 80's when we were celebrating the phenomenal genius of bands like Asia, Laura Brannigan and Air Supply.

I was thinking that my set should be themed. Since I am such a sunny optimistic person, I am thinking The Summer of Death for my theme. You could do that forever with all the great Michael Jackson. The problem with a lot of popular Michael Jackson hits is that they turn into endurance constests on the dance floor. They are so long. Mama Say, Mama saw Mama pu saw goes on so long you start to think about his trial. Give me I Want You Back from the Jackson 5 days clocking in at an efficient 3:00. It would be great to play something from Dirty Dancing in honor of Patrick Swayze. She's Like The Wind is too slow, so probably Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance). I am so tempted to play something by the Dead Kennedys for Eunice and Ted - not in a mocking way but in a post-Modern respectful way. I'm not sure I can pull it off, beside, I can't see these women dancing to them.

Then there's John Hughes films. I always loved that scene in Breakfast Club when they were dancing around. But the song sucked. If You Leave is a great song from that, but is it too slow? The theme from Charlie's Angels would be poignant but not too danceable.

Being a DJ may be harder than I previously gave the likes of Samantha Ronson credit for.


  1. Hmm...Summer of Death. Great theme! If you're serious about playing DKs, maybe "Looking forward to Death" would fit. However, I always think of New Order for All Time Great Party Dance Tunes. : )


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