12 Steps for Dance Floor Recovery – By Arnoldo Offerman

September 14, 2011 by Dan Walsh


As DJs, we often hear the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a bad crowd.” I’d like to go on record and say that’s a total lie— and I have proof. You see, I am part of the bad crowd.

When I am the DJ, I will jump around and show more energy than a busload of children engaged in Red Bull chugging contests. But put me in front of another DJ and I will grab my seat. Simply put, I do not dance. I am a “broken” Hispanic, as dancing is not my thing. That being said, if I know that not even a 9mm pointed at my head would force me to dance, then how can I expect that as other people should be different?


My events are always high-energy events, and I get people dancing that have never danced in their life. Myself included. (Kinda sorta.) As I see it, there are 12 steps for dance floor recovery from a bad crowd.

1) Honesty with yourself is key. Admit to yourself that there is such a thing as a bad crowd. Some really suck, and some are just downright rude.

2) Remind yourself that YOU are the DJ/MC. You have powerful tools at your disposal for psychological control of these people: music, lighting, and emotion, expressed through your own attitude.

3) Rapport is key. Sure, they may be there for the bride and groom, or to celebrate their company’s 50th year—that doesn’t mean they’ll dance. However take the time to introduce yourself to each table and seize the chance to let everyone know who you are on a personal level. Use this time to make instant friendships and take requests. Now, when you ask (not invite, literally ask) everyone to come on the dance floor and celebrate, they’re more apt to. After all, the request came from someone they “know.” Don’t believe me? Why do you think snowball dances work? Wallflowers are more apt to dance when someone they know is asking them to come on out.

4) I realize this may seem ironic, given this article’s title, but do watch for drinking. Look around during dinner and see what genres “lead” more people to the bar. Try a few more of those songs to loosen people up when it’s time to fill the dance floor. Yes, this may be a DJ “crutch” but if the alcohol is there anyway, you might as well use it to your advantage!

5) Change! If a genre is not working, keep alternating various genres until something works. Then build up from there.

6) Don’t be afraid to say no! Let’s say you finally have a crowd dancing to rap, after the oldies just would not work. Someone comes up to you and asks you to change it back. What do you do? Be honest! Let them know you tried other genres and NO ONE, including them, got up. If they say they’ll dance to it, tell them you’ll hold them to it. If they really agree, tell them you’ll try to gradually mix it in.

7) At weddings, you should’ve already told your couples that the party is wherever they are. Should they forget, approach them and ask what songs they want to dance to. Once you get them dancing, invite everyone else to dance so they don’t “leave the happy couple celebrating by themselves!”

8 ) Speed up the songs just a bit. Yes, this works. I wish I could go further with more facts and proof, but I can only speak from personal experience. Others that have followed my advice reported the same results: It just works.

9) Beatmix. Once you have the floor going with a tough crowd, the worst thing that could happen is a slightly “off” feeling in the overall beat. Learn to mix if you don’t know how already. Don’t roll your eyes or bother trying to argue with me about it. There’s a reason that any successful dance venue/club has a DJ who can beatmix.

10) Switch your dance lighting colors to reds, yellows, and anything in between. Why do fast food chains use these colors? They create a sense or urgency and heighten the senses; now think about how this would translate to dancing.

11) Don’t let songs tire out. If a song isn’t working, don’t just let it go to the end out of a sense of duty or something—mix on to the next track. And remember, keep switching genres!

12) YOUR attitude is key! You must take on the stance that if no one is dancing, then you will. I don’t mean to be the “hey look at me” guy, I just mean dancing behind your console; smiling; jamming out! Your energy will become infectious and it WILL sweep the room.

A lot of this sounds like common sense stuff, but I’ve noticed that this isn’t often applied together as a set. Try it, and remember: There IS such a thing as a bad crowd, so ultimately you must play for the fun ones in the group, give these techniques a shot, and pray that the rest will follow.

Dan Walsh Dan Walsh (104 Posts)

Filed Under: 2011, Mobile DJ Performance Tips