How to Plan a Dance Party

Stephanie M. Kelley
Friends and music make dance parties special and meaningful.

A dance party is a fun activity for people of all ages, but is particularly interesting for younger people. There is more involved in planning a great party than simply gathering friends and cranking up the tunes. A lot of thought and planning should go into it.

Planning the Dance Party

There are a lot of practical things to consider when planning this type of party.

Space

Picking the right venue is perhaps the most important part of planning this type of party. Choosing a place that has plenty of space for guests to move freely and unobstructed is perhaps the most important part of the planning process.

  • Community centers: These places make great venues. Most have wide open spaces for dancing and a kitchen space. They may have a stage for live music or a DJ too, but the cost to reserve this type of venue could be pricey.
  • Backyards: During the warm weather season, party planners can host events in their own backyard. They may even want to rent a dance floor for their event.
  • Basements: Basements usually have a hard floor, perfect for dancing. This is an inexpensive choice for a dance party at any time of the year. Be sure to have bathroom facilities available for guests.
  • Gym: The local sports club or school may be willing to rent out their gym for a fun dance party. Students might be able to rent the gym at their school for free or at a reduced price.

Sound Equipment and Music

dance party music

The tunes are a key element of a dance party, so don't neglect the sound equipment and music.

  • Sound equipment: Be sure to have a way to play tunes so that everyone can hear it clearly and that the tunes aren't muffled. Modern devices like iPods hold a lot of songs in a small space. Hook one up to a set of speakers and hit random play or create a play list specifically for the party. Hosts can also hire a professional DJ to play songs and help to keep the party rolling.
  • Musical options: Choose dance party songs that are appropriate for the age of the guests and for the theme of the party. Be sure to mix classic favorites with some of the newest pop songs. If there is a specific theme, consider using that to guide in the song choices. It's wise to mix songs with heavy beats with slower songs. Quick beats are great for getting guests moving, but every once in a while they will want to relax and go at a slower pace. Hiring a live band is also something to consider.
  • Noise level: No matter what type of music is chosen, it is necessary to take the neighbors into consideration. If the party is in a residential area with close-by neighbors, hold the party early in the evening and keep the noise down. In commercial areas, verify to see if any businesses will be open at the time of the party and keep the volume down to a miniumum in consideration of anyone who might be bothered by the sound.

Lighting

Every dance party should have a variety of lights. The host will need some lights up for safety. Be sure to have plenty of lights so guests can see to safely move around the venue. Take special attention to lighting stairs and other areas that might be congested or pose a danger. Then make sure that you have colored lighting to add to the atmosphere. Buy colored light bulbs to put into the ceiling fixtures and string Christmas tree lights up around the edges of the ceiling to create some ambient lighting.

Refreshments

Be sure to have plenty of drinks on hand, as people are likely to get thirsty after a night of dancing. Offering snack foods is also a nice thought, as guests might get hungry. Some foods are sure to be a big hit with guests.

  • Pizza is a quick and easy food option that is usually popular with most guests.
  • Buffets with finger foods are perhaps the best way to make sure that everyone gets something that they enjoy to eat.
  • Potlucks are great if everyone is willing to contribute an item.

Themes and Decorations

Many different themes can be used to create a memorable dance party for guests of any age. The theme will often dictate the decorations, too.

glow in the dark dancing feet

Glow in the Dark

Hang neon colored streamers from the ceiling and stick some dollar store glow-in-the-dark stars on the wall to decorate. Encourage guests to wear white T-shirts and neon colors to the party. Rig up some black-lights and dim the house lights to have a truly electrified event. Be sure to hand out glow sticks to guests to add to the fun.

Period Parties

Choose a period and create a party around this theme. For instance, a 1950s party should have a juke prop, girls in poodle skirts and boys with hair slicked back. A 1970s themed party should include a disco ball from the ceiling and plenty of yellow smiley face decorations on the walls.

Barn Dance Party

Get down at the hoe down and rent a barn for a fun country style dance. Use bales of hay as chairs and serve old-fashioned country favorites like fried chicken, potato salad, lemonade and brownies for dessert.

Hawaiian Party

The summertime is the perfect time to have a Hawaiian themed party. Use lots of raffia to decorate the party area and cut out pictures of palm trees and colorful tropical flowers to attach to the wall. Encourage guests to wear tropical wear as they rock out to Hawaiian tunes and practice the hula.

Age Appropriate Variations

People of all ages like dance parties, but hosts should modify their plans to make them appropriate to the age of their guests.

Tweens

Kids who between the ages of ten and twelve are often called tweens, as they are locked in the age that is between being a kid and being a teenager. Many kids in this age bracket like to dance and have fun with their friends, so a dance party is a good solution. Some extra planning may be involved in creating the perfect event for someone in this age bracket.

  • Choose a time that is appropriate, as kids may have an early curfew or restrictions put on by their parents.
  • Consider having an all girl or all boy party, as many kids in this age bracket are still feeling awkward dancing with people of the opposite sex.
  • Be careful to chose songs that are free of profanity and sexual connotations or other themes that might be inappropriate for kids of this age.
  • Decorate with colorful streamers and balloons.

Teens

teens at dance party

Teen guests are likely to have fun at a dance party, and though older, may still have some special requirements

  • Have the party on the weekend when kids don't have to worry about getting up in the morning for school.
  • Though kids of this age don't have to go to home as younger kids, they may still have a curfew, so have the party end in time for guests to get home at a reasonable time.
  • Consider having a few adult chaperones at the party.
  • Use a disco ball and plenty of neon to decorate the venue; if you can afford the rental, a fog machine lends an element of cool to the party.

Adults

Just because people grow up doesn't mean they don't like to have fun.

  • If alcohol is being served, be sure to have safe transportation home planned for guests.
  • Have comfortable chairs and lounging areas, as many adults may want to take a break from dancing to talk or rest.
  • Vary the music to include some current songs, but also include tunes from other eras that the adults at the party may have enjoyed during their teen years.
  • Use sophisticated décor items, like luxurious fabric coverings and elegant tableware, to decorate according to the theme.

Get Your Groove On

A dance party is a great addition to another type of celebration, from a neighborhood block party to a Halloween costume dance. Virtually any party occasion or theme can be enhanced with a little time for guests to get their groove on!

How to Plan a Dance Party