Archive for April 28th, 2008

To Trump “Conventional Wisdom,” Play Follow The Leader!

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I played for a 50th wedding anniversary yesterday. The honorees hoped their guests would dance up a storm. But the Conventional Wisdom said that probably wouldn’t happen. Why?

1. The party took place during daylight hours. The CW says that folks don’t dance ’til dark.
2. The party took place on a Sunday. The CW says that Saturday is the “dancing” night.
3. The average age of the guests was about 70. The CW says septuagenarians don’t “par-tay.”
4. There wasn’t a band or a DJ – just yours truly at the keyboard. The CW says, “You’re kidding!”

But I’m not kidding, and – typically – the Conventional Wisdom would have been right: this would have been a pleasant, non-dancing event. But there was one factor that trumped the CW: all parties follow the leader (ie. the guests of honor or hosts – which in this case were one and the same.) When the honorees – be they brides or birthday boys – dance early and often, the guests tend to follow suit.

And boy, did they! Once the hosts and a few key couples started the disco ball rolling, there was no stopping the crowd. It was almost as if they had simply been waiting all these decades for permission to whoop it up in broad daylight on a Sunday to the accompaniment of a single musician. It shouldn’t have happened – but it did.

Hopefully, your next event won’t have 4 strikes on it before you even start. Hopefully – if your goal is a packed dance floor – you will start a couple of hours later, pick a “party” night, and provide something more than a 1-man band. But – even if you do all the things that the Conventional Wisdom suggests for a “par-tay” – you would do well to remember the example of my hosts this weekend.

Simply put, if you don’t dance at your party – neither will anyone else. If you don’t have fun at your own party, neither will anyone else. So – for the sake of this event on which you’ve worked so hard – show your guests by your own example how you wish them to celebrate.

We may outgrow Pin The Tail On The Donkey and other kid-party games, but we will almost always Follow The Leader.