Must Have Dance Songs at Wedding Receptions

And We're Dancing!

Beneath the Crystal Ball...where magic happens!
Beneath the Crystal Ball...where magic happens!

Gotta Dance!

Despite the common notion that wedding receptions are places where tasty food is served for free (minus the cost of whatever gift given to the bride and groom), it is my firm conviction that a good wedding reception is where dancing happens. And having been a bride and talked to other brides and other attendants of weddings, I think it’s fair to say that almost all parties involved in the process want some good dancing music. The saddest occasion at a wedding occurs when a wide, luscious looking dance floor expands the hall of a reception and no one is dancing! What causes such a horrible tragedy? In my wedding-goer experience, one wedding had the great misfortune of having a DJ fail to attend. That was quite a frustrating experience and I still feel deep sympathy for the bride and groom.

Yet my husband likes to remind me that he does not like dancing to songs where he has to make up the moves and, because of this, it can be hard for me to keep him on the dance floor. I think, however, that this keeps many people off the dance floor. Sad people that we are, we haven’t learned the joy of embarrassing ourselves with our groovy dance moves! Now, in an attempt to keep as many people on the dance floor (or get people to the dance floor), I have put together a few songs with solid dances that should be played at wedding receptions. Because even the most reserved of person should aspire to dance on the tables at some time in their life (or at least bust a move on the dance floor). To learn the dances, I’ve provided the appropriate videos for each dance.

1. Cupid Shuffle

Relatively new in my experience, this dance is easy to learn and a lot of fun to dance to. According to Wikipedia, the song came out in 2007, so it’s not too old. The song itself has been noted as having a lot of similarities to Cha Cha Slide. The dance itself has less moves and the feel of a more fixed pattern to its structure. The drawback that you might encounter with playing this song is that it might be less well known to the older crowd. This problem can be corrected by having someone ready to stand up at the front to provide instruction. Definitely a song well worth performing.

2. Macarena

Sadly, I rarely here this song played anywhere. This is undoubtedly the result of the enormous craze it initially spawned. I can still remember seeing pictures in the newspaper of football players performing this dance. Yet while people might protest that the song was way overplayed, the Macarena is a dance that undoubtedly almost everyone knows. So while some of the older songs risk being unknown to the younger crowd and the younger songs risk being unknown by the older crowd, it is probable that this song is still well known by all age groups. And the dance is very easy to do.

3. Hokey Pokey

Now, this dance also is rarely featured at weddings. Granted, the hokey pokey does have a childish, corny kind of feel. But again, you must think about the benefits of this song. Everyone retains some memory of the hokey pokey and so when it is played, it is probable that you will again draw a huge crowd to the dance floor. Why? Again, the dance is likely to be better known to others. Some might even appreciate the throwback to childhood. Besides, the dance is kind of foolish, which would go a long way in creating a dancing environment in which the participants felt more comfortable with feeling foolish for more dancing.

4. Electric Slide

An old classic, to be sure. People past a certain age are more likely to know this song and its moves. However, even as someone who knows this song and grew up learning to dance to this song, I shared the comical experience of dancing to this song at my wedding where the participants and myself collectively forgot the dance moves! Yet despite the collective forgetfulness we all experienced, a larger number of people hoofed it to the dance floor. Because you can’t just pass up an old classic like the Electric Slide.

5. Apache aka Jump On It

A song played at some weddings but not all, it’s the kind of song that will be better known to the younger crowd. Yet the dance is again easy to learn and also somewhat humorous. In fact, the television show Fresh Prince of Bel Air features a very humorous moment of Will and Carlton dancing to this song. Worth checking out for the laugh, it’s the kind of dance that has the potential to catch on to more people as those in the know shimmy to the sounds of the song.

6. YMCA

This song really doesn’t need much explanation as it is featured at every wedding reception and almost always draws a substantial crowd. The funny tidbit about this song is that the organization that this song is based off is actually changing its name. So the song technically is incorrect because the name of the organization is different. According to one news source, the group that made this song expressed their sorrow at the changing of the name of the organization.

7. Cha Cha Slide

Already a constant at wedding receptions, this song has enough familiarity that if you are the one hosting the wedding, you will not need to worry about the unfamiliarity of the song. Yet if you haven’t heard this song, you really have no cause to fear because the song provides its own instructions in the music. Perhaps this is what makes the song so easy to learn and widespread: accessibility.

8. Hang On Sloopy

I wouldn’t call this a huge must-have except for one fact that I have become more and more acquainted with: there are an ENORMOUS number of OhioState football fans. They seem to turn up just about everywhere. Even in Florida several states away from Ohio, my husband received many comments of enthusiasm from various people whenever he wore his OhioState apparel, which happened every day. Now while this song might not appeal to everyone, it will doubtless rouse the enthusiasm of OhioState fans that will be at your wedding (maybe even in Michigan…who knows). Because this song has a few of the OhioState fan moves. And as there are few moves to the song, it will probably improve the community bonds at your wedding of the cluster of OhioState fans (except Michigan? I’m not certain…I really don’t care much about football).

9. Cotton Eye Joe

This dance, while a lot of fun, will likely be more entertaining for the more mobile crowd as it requires a lot of energy. Yet it’s old enough that playing this song will undoubtedly generate enough clusters of people who will mossy their way to the dance floor for this line dance kind of song. And the song itself is catchy enough that more people might feel like dancing to it. In any case, it definitely features a catchy rhythm. Now, my personal complaint is that it seems there are different versions to how to dance to this song. This shouldn’t be enough of a problem considering the variations don’t influence the dance too much, but it lacks a certain homogeneity that other dances inspire.

10. Chicken Dance

Again, I’m throwing this song into the dance list for the same premise I used for the hokey pokey. A bit of foolishness on the dance floor plus the general know how of most everyone will doubtless get a wide array of people up onto the dance floor. And besides, the chicken dance is certainly fun, easy to learn, somewhat childish and, to be redundant, a great way to get a large number of people up dancing.

Again, these are just a few dances I thought should be played at weddings to help get people to the dance floor. Doubtless, there are others. Jump Jive and Wail, a swing song, was not included because it is apparently too fast paced a dance. Also, I seem to be struggling to remember just what song it is where everyone does the congo line, but that song is more congo line than dance. Other than that, here is hoping that this list provides a springboard for the kind of dances that should be at weddings. Because everyone should shimmy a little bit.

Cupid Shuffle

The Macarena

The Hokey Pokey

The Electric Slide

Apache aka Jump On It or Fresh Prince Dance

Funny Version of YMCA Dance

Cha Cha Slide

Hang On Sloopy

Cotton Eye Joe

The Chicken Dance

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Comments 10 comments

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

I love the electric slide and YMCA- those are must haves. I also like the oldies like "Do You Love Me"? or "The Twist" or "Twist and shout". Almost every age groups knows how to do the Twist and maybe the hand-jive or the mashed potato, all the old dance moves. Those are totally fun.

This was a great hub and at my wedding we did play The Macarena.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

I love those oldies! Twist and Shout is one of my faves! As for the Twist, I don't know if you ever watched the 80s/90s show Saved By the Bell, but there is the funniest part of one of the episodes in which the principal dances to The Twist. It's hysterical!


eventsyoudesign profile image

eventsyoudesign 5 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

The videos are great. I agree that the music makes the reception. It is sad to see a dance floor at a reception void of any dancers. A great DJ is a good start and don't be fooled not every DJ is a great DJ so check references when hiring. Be sure to let them know what music you would like them to play. You hit it on the head with song choices. I also like the song, "Celebrate Good Times". Thanks for sharing. Teresa


acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 5 years ago from Guildford

Wow the videos are great and dancing is so sensual and wonderful.Thanks for sharing this.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

I'm glad you enjoyed! I love dancing and think it should be a more common experience!


Breanne 4 years ago

These are ALL on my do not play list - too cheesy for my liking.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 4 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

To each, his own, right? I just like that the songs have set dances that go with them. Great for the uncoordinated.


scott 4 years ago

Nice list , But just so you all know . who ever is looking for Apache, the song name is(Jump on it)sung by sir-mix-alot!


scott 4 years ago

P.S. the congo line song (at least one of them) is Hot! Hot! Hot! sung by buster poindexter ......


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 4 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain Author

Thanks for the catches, Scott! I thought Apache was also called Jump On It, but when I searched, it kept showing up as Apache. Love the congo line song!

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