“Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey
I can always count on every word of every verse being sung in unison by the crowd. The energy is pure magic! I also perform an instrumental version of this song as a solo guitarist for ceremonies and cocktail hours.
Dominick Petrellese with Amaretto, Bialek’s Music
“Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League
This is a great song for earlier in the night because it’s one of those forgotten gems that every generation can recognize. The synthy bass line along with the catchy chorus turns this into an anthem for any dance floor.
Kyle Moore, Mixing Maryland
“Boogie Shoes” by KC and the Sunshine Band
As soon as the horn riff hits, you can hear the crowd cheer and see the energy lift. This song sits in a good mid-tempo pocket, and because it was sampled by Trick Daddy for “Take It To Da House,” it resonates with young and old.
DJ Chris Stiles, Élan Artists
“Piano Man” by Billy Joel
No matter the event, we play this near the end, and from the first harmonica note, people are in groups or circles with their arms around each other singing at the top of their lungs. Also: “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon.
Chris Bruno with Capital Effect, Bialek’s Music
“My Girl” by The Temptations
Although it’s a classic, it has that musical magic which creates lasting memories for people of all ages. Over the years we have performed this tune, we have witnessed love, laughter, and tears of joy. Also: Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.” —
Signature Live!, EastCoast Entertainment
“I Choose You” by Sarah Bareilles | “Hey Ya” by Outkast | “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas
Kevin Olivera, Olivera Music Entertainment
“Like a Prayer” by Madonna
We love ending the night with a song that everyone knows and can sing along to. Also: “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen and “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder.
Lauren Brettell and Rebecca Steele, co-owners, Lucy Black Entertainment
“Shout” by The Isley Brothers
It’s a great ending song for all generations.
Hajji Harrison with Jump Street Band, EastCoast Entertainment
Anything by Lizzo
But “Truth Hurts” is number one at the moment. Also: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.
Mike Ostrow, cofounder, Entertainment Exchange
“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind
The minute the crowd hears that drum intro, they get ready to jam. Something about this song just makes people want to jump. As a little twist, we mix in a few minutes of “MMMBop” by Hanson in the middle of the song. Also: “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys. What song better encapsulates firsts for ’90s kids?
Uncle Jesse, EastCoast Entertainment
“Nice for What” by Drake
It has a little bit of bounce and a lot of dance, and it’s definitely a sing-along!
DJ Alkimist, Élan Artists
“Living On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
Jukeboxx, EastCoast Entertainment
“Every Little Kiss” by Bruce Hornsby
The love in this song is not at all a fairy-tale love, and that’s what makes it so special.
Barrett Johnson with the Fixe, Élan Artists
“Mr. Brightside” by The Killers
This song has such a contagious feeling—no matter who you are, it gets you onto the dance floor, belting out the lyrics.
Luke James Shaffer with Lamplighter, Élan Artists
“American Girl” by Tom Petty
Sometimes wedding guests are looking for permission to let loose and have a good time, and this song gives it to them. Also: “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder.
Ken Wenzel with Riverside Lights, EastCoast Entertainment
“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
It tells you what you should be doing right there in the song. Something a little more old-school that gets everyone on the dance floor is “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. Both are great ways to get everyone dancing.
The Excellent Drivers, EastCoast Entertainment
“September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
It has been requested many times, and anytime we perform this song, the crowd hits the floor. Also: “At Last” by Etta James.
Leon Rawlings with 76 Degrees West Band, EastCoast Entertainment
“Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars
I don’t think it’s physically possible to listen to that song and not start dancing. Go ahead and try!
J. Langer with Moonshine, EastCoast Entertainment
“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince
We use it as an encore. We have an extended high-energy ending featuring vocals and drums that is a showstopper.
BroadSound, EastCoast Entertainment
“You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
When you get to combine the freedom of expression the song has with the generally soulful feel of the song, you end up with an incredibly powerful moment in the set.
Matthew Paul with Nation, Élan Artists
This article appears in the August 2021 issue of Washingtonian.