Being a DJ who is well into his 40′s I’ve been feeling the need to defend reception “guests of age” lately. I hear it all the time when I’m consulting with wedding clients (many of whom seem young enough to be my own kids) at Jerry Bruno Productions. “A lot of our guests will be older. You know…in their 40′s, 50′s & 60′s. So please be sure to play some stuff for them, like Big Band music and Frank Sinatra stuff.”
Attention young brides and grooms….”old” people ain’t so old. It’s more a matter of you being so young! I mean, what kind of one-foot-in-the-grave, granny knitting in a rocking chair, old fart-type stuff do you think your “older” guests are into?
Let me shed some light…
It’s true that our country is aging. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily getting “old”. Baby Boomers – people born between 1945 and 1964 – represent one of the largest demographic groups in America today. Boomers were coming of age during the Vietnam War, Beatlemania and Woodstock. The Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, sexual freedom and drug experimentation were all significant hallmarks of this generation. A Baby Boomer who was just 20 years old in 1969 (the Summer of Love) was not “square” by any means then, and now that that person is 63 in 2012, some would say they’re cooler than ever.
A Wikipedia note tells the musical story of the Baby Boomers well: “The baby boomers found that their music, most notably rock and roll, was another expression of their generational identity. Transistor radios were personal devices that allowed teenagers to listen to The Beatles and The Motown Sound.”
Take a look at the Billboard Year-End Top Ten Hits of 1967 (when someone who is 65 years old now was just 20 years old):
1 “To Sir, with Love” Lulu
2 “The Letter” The Box Tops
3 “Ode to Billie Joe” Bobbie Gentry
4 “Windy” The Association
5 “I’m a Believer” The Monkees
6 “Light My Fire” The Doors
7 “Somethin’ Stupid” Frank & Nancy Sinatra
8 “Happy Together” The Turtles
9 “Groovin’” The Young Rascals
10 “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” Frankie Valli
The Doors? The Monkees? The Turtles? That’s a far cry from the hits of Glen Miller, Doris Day or even Bill Haley & the Comets that many young brides & grooms seem to associate with their “older” guests. If one of your guests was 25 years old during the height of the disco craze in 1978, they’re 59 now and probably would enjoy waxing nostalgic to the sounds of Donna Summer, KC & the Sunshine Band or the Bee Gees. Hell, even I get a little bent out of shape whenever I tune into an “oldies” radio station and hear hits from the 80′s – my coming of age years. How can they possibly be “oldies”??
To put things even further into perspective, here are a few well-known celebrities who are turning 50 this year:
Sheryl Crow – 2/11
Jon Bon Jovi – 3/2
Rosie O’Donnell – 3/21
Tom Cruise – 7/3
Axl Rose – 2/6
Garth Brooks – 2/7
Paula Abdul – American Idol – 6/19
Matthew Broderick – 3/21
Joan Cusack – 10/ 11
Kelly Preston 10/13
Jodie Foster – 11/19
Felicity Huffman – 12/9
“Old” not looking so old? The point is that seniors are more active than ever. They have spending power, they are internet savvy and they know good entertainment when they see it. Of course so much music really is timeless and is loved by people of all ages, including the early hits of the 40′s and 50′s. And of course jazz and vocal standards will always have a place during cocktail and dinner hours. But when it comes to dancing, we all have to work to keep the dance floor full for your reception. The key to success is knowing who your guests really are and what they really like – especially musically.
Even the ones on Social Security.