Jerry Bruno Productions Archives | Cleveland Music Group
The equation really is simple math:
Focus on Guests + Delivery of Great Guest Experience = Desired Behavior (Dancing)
But not everyone is good at math, so class begins now – a year before the test.
There are so many factors that can contribute to (or take away from) a full dance floor at a wedding reception or other special event. Many of these factors have nothing to do with the DJ. Time and location of the actual ceremony, venue of the reception, weather, parking, traffic all have an influence on the guest experience and therefore on the dance floor itself. Obviously, we can’t control all of these things, but as entertainment consultants we have to help clients become aware of these factors, control whatever can be controlled and adapt them to contribute to a full dance floor. This takes careful planning from the very beginning of the planning process. The actual event may be a year from now, but because there are so many things – let’s call them “dance floor factors” – that can be controlled and need to be planned far in advance, our team’s job is to start filling the dance floor…now.
Jerry Bruno Productions‘ Agent, Band Leader and DJ Geoff Short is proud to be a new part of the DJ Video Network, a DJ-focused website dedicated to webcasting videos about the DJ profession. Geoff produces DJ gig log videos and other performing arts documentary videos the DJVN recently included his video channel “Call-Back with Geoffrey Short” on its programming line-up! Check out Geoff’s show at: http://djvideonetwork.com/youtube/call-back-with-geoffrey-short
A-ggres-sive Re-quest-er: (lat. Requestus Obnoxious); aka Party Neanderthal – 1) Wedding reception Guest (usually male) with an inability to handle social drinking in any civilized way – usually presenting itself with the alcohol-induced hallucination that unless the creature hears a particular inane song of choice IMMEDIATELY, it will die – usually leading to verbal assault on the band or DJ on duty.
What is it with some people? Throw back a few drinks at a reception and they start treating the band or DJ like their own personal ipod. Don’t get me wrong – we always want guests to have a great time and keep the dance floor full and polite requests are expected and even welcomed at many events. But you know the type – the drunken goon whose beer-goggles (or, in this case, earphones) lead him to believe that unless the band plays the particular song of his choosing, the Earth will crack open like a walnut. Ironically this pickled heckler’s “requests” are never really requests at all, but insistent demands bellowed after every song that isn’t his tune of choice.
And why is it that it’s never like a really unique or interesting song? I’m really starting to believe these buffoons’ musical vocabulary consists of “Hang On Sloopy” and “Let’s Get Drunk and Screw”. I’ve even started mentally giving a prize to the first over-served party boy to loudly demand we play “Shout” (usually somewhere near the top of the 2nd set)!
I realize this makes me sound like a party snob or something, and I really don’t mean to be. I like a good drankin’ song as much as the next guy. But the fact is, these types of guests can be really disruptive to a band or DJ as well as the other guests. Even worse, they sometimes get threatening (I’d love to be a fly on the jail cell wall when this guy tries to explain to the cops that he assaulted the DJ because he wouldn’t play “Sweet Caroline”!). It’s a good bet that this obnoxious guest hasn’t been in on any of the planning for this reception and probably doesn’t know that the DJ has strict guidelines from the clients who are paying not to play certain songs or types of music, not matter how politely the DJ might try to explain that. Not to mention the fact that we actually do like those tunes too and would have played them in due time anyway. They’re great party songs. But for most artists, the more a guest screams at us, the less likely that guest is to ever hear that song at this event. We are there to do a job and like, everyone else, demand the respect that affords.
I guess I’m a little biased. I’m not a song requester type. In all my years of experiencing live music, I’ve never felt the need to infuse any of my personal song preferences into a band or DJ’s set list. I’m sure it’s because I’m usually the one performing the music week to week and I know how constant requests can take your eye off the ball of trying to keep the dance floor full. But when I’m not performing, I’m usually cool with whatever the band plays. I just like watching live bands and DJs perform their craft – good or band, to me it’s always interesting. The actual songs being played have little to do with it for me. It’s either a good dance song or it’s not. And if the setting I’m hearing said music in happens to include some social drinking, that has a much different effect on me than it seems to on the song request bully. After a couple drinks I’m digging every song and become the friendliest dancer on the floor! This band is AWESOME!!!
So if you’re an Aggressive Requester – and you know who you are – take it easy. Just let the band or DJ do their thing and enjoy the night. If you don’t like a song….go get a drink. Scratch that – go get a cup of coffee. But if you think you can’t handle that, load up Hang On Sloopy, Brown-Eyed Girl and Shout on your ipod and jam the night away…from the comfort of your car…..out in the parking lot!
Just kidding – we’ll get those tunes on in the next set!
Geoff is the Sales and Promotions Manager at Jerry Bruno Productions and is a DJ and the bandleader of JBP’s band The Avenue.
The beast was among them…dressed as one of them..and it was hungry.
The newlyweds were flushed with excitement. They had painstakingly planned every detail of the reception….the perfect flowers…the perfect band…gourmet dinner…special dances…the……toasts…
It wouldn’t be long now. It had been too long since the thing had fed. The unsuspecting victims were just now enjoying the salad course. Soon the thing would eat too. Only one thing would satisfy its insatiable appetite…time. And lots of it. It was just waiting for its cue…
…”and now ladies and gentlemen…a special toast from the Best Man…”
The timeline was dead.
Fiction? Unfortunately in too many cases, no. I always remember a “toast” being something along the lines of “over the teeth and through the gums, look out tummy, here it comes!”..but too often a well-wishing Best Man or Maid of Honor sees this custom as their 15 minutes of fame – literally…15 minutes.
One question I always like to ask clients is “what is your goal for this reception”? Most people say that they want their guests to have a great time, to stay and dance and make the event one people have great memories of. In short, they want to throw a great party.
So why do so many people seem to forget what makes a great party?
True, a wedding reception is not an ordinary party…but there are some ingredients for successful parties that are universal, no matter what the occasion. One of those ingredients is the ability for the hosts to take the focus off themselves and put it onto their guests. This may seem contradictory to the very reason this event is happening in the first place- to celebrate the new union of the two most important people in the room. But the happy couple is THE reason everyone is there in the first place and the big white, fluffy dress is a big clue as to who the center of attention is. Making 200 guests – who have already dedicated an entire day to celebrating the rookie-weds – continue to sit through long speeches and toasts to further drive the point home can be the very definition of overkill.
And it can kill your timeline.
The bride and groom are most likely not going to be aware of what time it is – or rather, how much time they’re losing – at any given point of the reception. Nor should they. But the band the bar and the bus boys definitely know what time it is. That’s our job as planners and bandleaders and DJ’s – to keep things moving and on schedule. And ready or not at the end of the night, the party is going to come to a close. Hopefully by this point it’s your guest’s feet that are tired from dancing and not their rear ends from sitting all night. You’ve probably paid good money for the band or DJ. You should get the most out of your investment and let them do what they do best..fill the dance floor. I’ve seen more than a few brides with that surprised look as though the dancing just started, and it seems we’re “already” thanking the audience and going into our last dance.
Besides, wedding toasts are kind of like inside jokes – filled with memories that approximately 2% (according to statistics I just made up for this blog post) of the entire crowd were involved in and thus, care about. Making guests endure long winded speeches about things they weren’t involved in is kind of like inviting friends over to sit through a slide show of your last trip to the Grand Canyon.
Don’t forget the show business aspect of throwing a party. Appeal to the larger audience. More elements that everyone can enjoy – like dancing, eating and drinking – can help ensure a fun reception.
None of this is to suggest toasts should be done away with. But if brides and grooms make it clear to their respective Best Men and Maids of Honor from the very beginning of the planning process that their timeline is limited, things can move more swiftly to the true business of partying. A brief toast can still be funny, congratulatory and heartfelt.
And the time-eating beast will have to eat elsewhere.
At the time of this posting, Geoff was the Sales and Promotions Manager at Jerry Bruno Productions (now Cleveland Music Group) and the bandleader for its band, The Avenue.
Being in a special event band gives us musicians a very special perspective on things that can make the difference between a successful event and one that is primarily remembered for Uncle Shemp dropping his pants and passing out in the middle of the dance floor. It’s a good thing all prospective brides, grooms and wedding reception guests on the dance floor, at the bar or in the buffet line can’t see what we see from atop our wedding band risers week in and week out….there might be a lot less comedy in the wedding world.
Don’t get me wrong, 99% of the weddings we perform at are gorgeous, classy affairs that are painstakingly planned. From the band perspective, all of us at JBP work very closely with clients, planners, venues and other vendors to make sure we guide the reception smoothly through its timeline. But the recurrence of a certain amusing–if not downright awkward–nuptial phenomenon never ceases to amaze…usually starting with the first dance.
The first rule of planning a wedding reception is that there are no rules; whatever the newlyweds like is what should happen. But it’s always been my understanding that the first dance should be one of the most romantic moments of the big day. A few minutes that not only christen the dance floor, but that also give a new husband and wife the chance to hold each other and reflect with one another on having just started this new part of their lives together – all while listening to one of their favorite songs. It’s almost a private moment really. The most moving and romantic first dances I’ve seen are usually handled this way. And then there are the others…
You know the ones: the dance school flunkies, who despite weeks of bargain wedding dance class lessons still look like they’re in a boxing match as opposed to a first dance. And why is it always the grooms with the absolute worst rhythm in the world who seem to be forced into this choreographic conundrum? It never fails that instead of a lump in my throat I have to fight the giggles at the look of absolute terror on his face and the look of sympathetic frustration on hers as she is relentlessly counting to four through pursed lips. Rather than a beautiful moment of wedded bliss, these fumblings resemble the awkward prep school dance classes we were forced into as kids.
On behalf of dance schools everywhere, dance classes are great things and fun to do together as a couple. But a first dance is not a variety show. You don’t have to entertain your guests – yet. Newlyweds, do yourself a favor. Just hold each other and thank your lucky stars you’ve just married this prince or princess of your dreams. You should remember this moment as one of joy and love in each others’ arms – not one in which you’d rather be anywhere else than having to remember which is your left foot and which is your right. The genuine look of being in love on both your faces will entertain the crowd way more than any spin or dip. And your future kids will never look through your wedding album asking why daddy was sweating and looked like he had to go potty.
At the time of this posting, Geoff was the Sales and Promotions Manager at Jerry Bruno Productions (now Cleveland Music Group) and the bandleader of The Avenue.