Many recreation departments around this area and I am sure around the country organize Pool Parties, Teen Dances, and other events for junior high school age kids. Many of you probably dread the very thought of working with this age group. Well, you can make it a very fun and successful night…for you and the kids!
Teen dances, are a lot like a normal school dance, with one important exception. You need to get out and interact with the kids more then at a school dance. We do these shows with three people, one of us (myself) runs the system, and the other two are out on the floor dancing and getting the kids motivated and running our lights. Junior high school kids are at an awkward age and they tend to embarrass easily. You can help them through this by teaching them the steps and leading them through these dances. This will help take their attention off their image and get out on the dance floor and have a good time.With these parties you have to make the kids feel comfortable to get them involved. Some groups will be really easy and others will take a lot more work. If you can gain their trust and let them know that you will not embarrass them, then you will have a good night. My light man is a really fun & crazy guy. He usually gets out and embarrasses himself to gain their trust. This works great! We have an old motorcycle helmet that has fuzzy stuff covering it and those goofy looking earflaps. He will put on his sunglasses and that helmet and start dancing around the floor. He usually does this to “Come On Ride It.” Last time we did this the whole group formed a circle around him dancing and he was dancing right in the middle. No one left the floor all night long after that.
With this age group it helps to get the girls involved first. The guys are usually there checking out the girls. Anything that gets the girls’ attention and keeps them involved will get the guys participating much faster. That really is a pretty good game plan for any type of event. It also helps if there is an “advisor” available who is very familiar with the group. They can steer you in the right direction as far as choosing participants who will most likely go along with suggestions and will be great at getting others involved. You want the natural leaders and the clowns.
Most of the time with recreation department functions, they also rent video games, have a movie for the kids, and a lot of other activities with which you need to compete. One way to do this is to offer contests, such as dance contests. We generally give CDs, usually singles, for the best Macarena, Da Dip, Personal Jesus, and Electric Slide. We judge them on whether they make a mistake or not and how creative they get while still stay within the steps. We also give credit if they take over the lead.
As far as music goes, play the top 40 stuff and most of their requests. At this age the requests vary a lot so you need to have a good variety with you, Everything from Guns N’ Roses to Aqua. Watch what you play though remember you want to come back and do another one for them. A lot of what the kids will ask for is not appropriate for the event. Here if you play something foul you will be done for the night and you won’t be back.
Your lighting and sound system plays a big part in all this also. Personally I have a very large lighting and sound system. Kids want loud music with that chest slamming bass. That will help you out from the start. If you have excellent sound and you can get it up in volume that is a big plus. Also, you want to be able to offer a variety of lighting effects. Instead of using a bunch of par cans or pin spots use some special effects that put different designs on the floor. The American DJ Quantum and Orbit 2 are two good choices. Shop around and you will find effects that you like at a variety of price points. Intelligent brings your show to the next level. With all the different things intelligent lighting has to offer it will really help. Look at music videos or go to concerts and look at the lighting they are using and ask yourself if that could benefit you only at a smaller scale. If you’re working often with this age group, I am sure you will answer yes.
All this works well at Pool Parties too, except don’t let the kids get to close to your gear. They will get it soaked, which would probably ruin it. Also, we all too well know the hazards of water and electricity. Keep a barrier between your equipment, connections, and the kids to avoid the event ending in tragedy. Get out from behind the console and go to them to do the contests. Again, be creative. If the pool has a diving board have contests for the best dive, can opener, and cannon ball.
There are a lot of great pool games. You can organize a short round of volleyball. Water balloon battles are also great, especially since they are already wet. A great opener is a “Coin Scavenge.” Before the kids hit the water, toss a couple handfuls of change in the pool. Have the kids win if they collect certain combinations of coins, such as three dimes, two nickels, and six pennies. You can also have them work together and give prizes to the first ‘group” who can bring you coins that add up to a certain amount, like $1.05.
With the pool parties though you may want to throw in some oldies, with emphasis on some theme related beach music. More then three or four oldies might kill the night unless it has many adults attending the party also. Be sure to space them in with more current music. The oldies will get their attention, especially the girls, but be cautious and don’t over-do it.
Pool parties are another great opportunity for interactivity if you have enough staff. We are doing one to celebrate a bat mitzvah this summer and I am considering having one of my guys get in the pool with the kids and have a swim race for a prize. We will more then likely pick 6 or 7 people to race. Then we will get them all lined up ask if they want to say something and go. We will MC as they are racing as if it was on ABC World Wide of Sports. We’re considering a video so the winner can look back on it later on and remember the win. We think it will go over great.
These parties are so much trial and error and it can be a strain on your nerves. However, if you do it right it can be fun and can be a great source of repeat business. Remember these kids may be a pain in the butt, but if you know how to get them going then you will have more fun with them then doing anything else. Be patient with them and do not take their smart Alec mouths. They will test your patience, I guarantee it.
Filed Under: School Dances
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