7 Things You’ll Almost Definitely See on a Wedding Reception Dance Floor

Wedding dancing in Leeds

7 Things You’ll Almost Definitely See on a Wedding Reception Dance Floor


One measure of a successful wedding reception is how busy the dance floor is.  And that very measure is itself a “KPI” (other corporate consultant speak is available) of either the wedding DJ or wedding band’s performance, professionalism and ability to play to the audience.


Whilst most couples are now looking for their special day to be at least a little different there are also familiar, traditional parts of each wedding which are comforting.  This means that there is a high level of probability that you’ll see certain things on a wedding dance floor and we wanted to explore seven of these things as our wedding bands often report seeing them – but are they the most common?


  1. Knee Sliding Antics

Before anyone calls plagiarism on this article we will freely admit to being somewhat inspired by Peter Kay’s famous comedy routine about weddings.  But we’re only going to pinch one of them which has to be acknowledged and that is the increasing unruliness of the flower girls, page boys and other young guests.


Wedding ceremonies themselves can be long but when you’ve added the travel, the night before and the reception then it can take its toll on everyone and in particular children.  Most of them will find each part of the wedding quite boring and once the novelty of a few songs they recognise being played by a DJ there really is only one thing left to do – run around chasing one another.


For a lot of the parents in attendance, this might be their first night out for months and as they’re amongst friends in a safe environment the leash is lengthened (or removed) and the kids are allowed to enjoy their own brand of entertainment which inevitably ends in knee sliding on the dancefloor.  Only the strictest of parents will clamp down on this rite of passage, particularly if the trousers were “bought especially for today Kayden” and the parent believes anyone watching doesn’t secretly wish they were young and/or supple enough to join them.  But unless someone brings over one too many rounds of shorts it remains unlikely to happen without a trip to a doctor.  In fact, one of the most infamous knee slides of all time in 1999 in the Champions League final left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer injured for weeks after damaging his medial ligament.  But that won’t concern the young, sliding revellers at the wedding reception and nor should it.  In the words of the Gallagher brothers “Slide Awaaaaaay”


  1. The Dance Off

We’re not certain when a wedding dance off became “a thing” but we’re estimating that it arrived off the back of Run DMC’s revival of “It’s Like That” in 1997 when they teamed up with Jason Nevins and hit the top of many national charts.


In the video which seemed to be on MTV every hour for months, we were treated to a very high calibre dance off between some uber-trendy professional break-dancers in a classic boys vs girls match up.  Whilst this wasn’t occurring at a wedding, the phenomenon was established and replicated (sort of) across wedding and club dance floors for years to come.


This provides the perfect opportunity for any peacocks (pea optional) to do their “thang”.  But the dance off does come with a tell if you’re a poker player.  So there is ample chance for you to avoid ritual humiliation if you have two left feet or aren’t inebriated/self-confident enough to participate and this tell is the formation of a circle.


Then one of the larger peacocks will begin with their overly confident interpretation of a dance routine or move in the middle of the circle which will be met with rapturous whoops from the other members of the inner circle – partly out of genuine appreciation and partly out of fear of their own offering being somewhat substandard.


There is also one move which is a legal requirement of any wedding dance-off and almost worthy of its own place in this list.  And that ladies and gentlemen is the leg pump.  This innocuous move entails standing on one leg and grabbing the raised leg by the shin and then pumping the knee aggressively, ideally whilst grimacing and pivoting three hundred and sixty degrees for everyone to behold your shin-grabbing prowess.


This is what Uncle Dave thinks he looks like in his head during a wedding dance off


  1. Inappropriate use of Wedding Balloons

Most weddings have balloons don’t they?  Well for the ones that do, there is an opportunity that will not be missed by children and some adults alike.


As the wedding band plays an anthem, some of the higher class venues have balloons ready for release out of a suspended ceiling net and that is a cue for some balloon-based pandemonium.  Most people will enjoy hitting the balloons around for a while and then most of them end up popped or under tables.  And it is under these tables where the balloons essentially ferment alongside some of the guests.  It might be another few hours before they’re spotted again, usually by some of the eagle-eyed “knee-sliders” from above – and then the balloons are back in play.


But during this time many of the guests have enjoyed more alcohol and their inhibitions have diminished.  And then it happens.  A guest has the chance to pick up two balloons at once and they believe that the single funniest thing in the world that they can do at that moment is a balloon-based rendition of Madonna’s Vogue.  We’ll leave the details to your imagination and the only thing more top shelf is if the organisers have decided on a mixture of balloon sizes and the same guest picks up three balloons instead.  Wayhaaaaaay!


Filling wedding balloons with precious helium needed for MRI machines which then land in the ocean and choke a baby turtle might seem like a good idea.  But is it worse than Cousin Janet’s wedding balloon dance?  (Yes)


  1. Forced Participation

We all enjoy different parts of a wedding reception.  The majority of guests will enjoy the wedding band but in their own way of course.  There are those guests who will be front and centre – the first on the floor and last to be dragged off it.  Some guests will enjoy a quick dance to their favourite tunes but not enough to build up a sweat under their precious wedding hat,  And then there are a significant number who will use every technique in the book to avoid dancing.  They enjoy the tunes and many will be “back of the room toe tappers” but that is their limit.  


This doesn’t mean that they’re not enjoying the wedding band as much as the others but they’re perhaps not as confident busting a move as their more extrovert counterparts.  And this is what can cause one of the most painful sights on a wedding dancefloor – forced participation.


The harrowing sight is reminiscent of a BBC wildlife documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough.


“And here we see a gaggle of toe-tappers.  These introverted beasts enjoy nothing more than supping a pint of bitter in the shadows and people-watching whilst the wedding band plays an array of favourites.  The other, more boisterous mammals prefer to flaunt their talents using an indescribable mix of pump actions, gyration and in some cases “slut drops” in time with the musical accompaniment.


But the toe-tapper must be careful.


If they become mesmerised by a beat and move too close to the dancefloor they are in grave danger.  Scientists estimate that the “gyrators” can smell an off-guard toe-tapper from up to 25 feet and this spells mild peril which is often captured on film by a groom’s brother operating a Sharp Viewcam.


This “gyrator” has locked on to an elderly relative who has been toe-tapping to an Ed Sheeran song but made the fatal error of a combination of eye contact and a smile and now finds herself being dragged by the arm to participate in gyration-based antics which she is obviously uncomfortable with.  It is likely that she will spend the rest of the evening hiding in the disabled toilets praying that none of it was captured on film”.


  1. The Injury 

Twenty years ago we were capable of doing a passable backwards caterpillar breakdancing move from a standing start.  But twenty years on, we probably can’t.  And this is just one of many reasons why some guests will wake up bruised or worse after dancing at a wedding.


Wedding receptions are emotional occasions and a time to celebrate but when mixed with alcohol, often flowing since pre-noon and then add a dash of high quality live wedding music and some guests can get carried away.  We’ve even seen failed attempts at recreating the famous flying dance move from Dirty Dancing which ended in a fractured wrist and a significant dent of pride.


Thankfully, the majority of woes at any wedding are the next morning which include hangovers, gaps in memory which can cause paranoia, a few pulled muscles from vigorous dancing or sore feet from wearing shoes that didn’t really fit for over twelve hours.  But if we’re brutally honest, some minor wedding injuries are amusing to witness at the time and add to the whole story of the event.


  1. Macarena Professionals

Some of us are happy to take more of a maverick stance when it comes to dancing.  The gay abandon of flailing one’s limbs around to the music and adhering to the “dance like nobody is watching” sage advice from a fridge magnet is the choice of many.


But there are a proportion of revellers at a wedding who prefer their dances to have set rules.  Prescriptive formations that level a room like an American barn dance.  And in Europe, every few years one of these dances is adopted into the cultures of many countries.  


Often the routine is spelled out in the lyrics such as <insert any song from Black Lace here>. Whilst the likes of Whigfield’s Saturday Night swept the continent in 1995 with a routine that when types out sounds ridiculous but is apparently a variation on the routine used to dance to Apache or Locomotion:-


  • When the music starts, move your legs to the rhythm and clap your hands in the air.
  • When the lyrics kick in, move your arms to the right then the left in a wave-like motion.
  • Put your left leg forward and with your arms pointing upwards, rest your right elbow on the palm of your left hand and move your right arm round and round, repeat the same with your right leg forward and your left elbow in your right palm.
  • With both forearms horizontal, roll your forearms around each other with your bum (butt) stuck out; repeat the arm motion again but you hips thrust forward.
  • Slightly flex your knees then put your right hand just above your right knee, then your left hand just above your left knee.
  • Then put your right hand on your right buttock then your left hand on your left buttock.
  • With your hands still on your bum, jump forward and then back.
  • Jump a quarter of a turn clockwise.
  • Clap your hands high and then start all over again!

But fortunately there is no need to print a cheat sheet or rely on this kind of tutorial as there is always at least one person who will know all of the moves to all of these kinds of songs.  They will recognise the genre within one note of the opening bar and they will be front and centre ready to take everyone through the routine from start to finish.


For the mavericks amongst us, at first we “poo poo” these formal dances but people look like they’re loving it and against our better judgement we join in.  But there is one unwritten warning for the likes of the Macaerena and that is that they last seemingly forever.  And once you’ve entered into the formation, there is no going back.  Like migrating geese, if you are to pull out mid-way you ruin the slipstream and risk being shunned by your flock as a “party pooper”.  So you must endure.  Stick with it until the end lest ye be banished.

7. Air Guitar Heroes

The last addition to our list is largely, but not exclusively reserved for wedding band performances.  There seems to be something inspiring which emanates from any wedding bands which include a guitarist.  Budding rock stars watch the wedding band perform their numbers and fantasise about fronting their own global rock sensation, filling stadiums and playing solos to thousands of adoring fans.


And very often, these fantasies spill out into reenactments on a wedding dance floor and culminate in us all being treated to one or more the following air guitar hero performances: –


The Style Likely Protagonist The Look
I Like It Uncle Ken A Status Quo-based crossover walk with a low slung air guitar.  A blend of confident but nonchalant and an ode to the 1980s.
Nothing Else Matters Brother in Law Dean You might want to clear some space as this air guitarist needs room to manoeuvre his imaginary Gibson Explorer with exaggerated strumming in keeping with his invisible spandex. 
Afterglow Best Man David This is much more of a casual and almost apologetic take on air guitar playing.  You might only see the player strum a few chords of a song on a make believe Fender Stratocaster but if you look closely you might see some subtle movements up and down the frets whilst the player is standing casually at the bar.


I think it is only fair to give all of the above their 15 minutes of fame, even if it is in their own heads and on someone else’s special day.  As long as they don’t smash up a make believe drum kit and put their foot through the invisible amps at the end of their pretend set that is.


So there you have it – seven things you’ll almost definitely see on a wedding reception dance floor.  Please let us know the ones we’ve missed.  And as always, if you’re looking for professional musicians for your wedding day look no further than High Row Music.


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