We are thrilled to have the supremely talented Danny Chaimson, founder of the The Gold Coast All Stars, give us his expert advice on how to keep the party flowing. Danny Chaimson has a truly remarkable career in the entertainment industry. As a solo artist, Danny has performed throughout the country, headlining the hottest clubs and opening for legendary acts like Etta James and The Neville Brothers, as well as current favorites like O.A.R. Eric Hutchinson and Jem. He’s received critical acclaim from Esquire, Keyboard Magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times among countless other publications, and has had his songs featured on NBC’s “Parenthood“ and the smash feature film, “The Lincoln Lawyer“. Not to mention his accomplishments as a keyboard player are even more impressive. Danny has played keyboards and guitar for the biggest acts in music, jamming alongside O.A.R., Howie Day, George Clinton, Slash, Solange Knowles, Shwayze, Mike Doughty (of Soul Coughing), Jem and many others. Chances are if you listen to them, Danny’s got a story about his experiences with them. Danny has a vision of changing the definition of what is possible in an event band. With The Gold Coast All Stars, expect greatness.
So You Think You Know WHEN To Dance?
Determining when to have your wedding band play is often the biggest unforeseen decision facing couples when they jump into the planning process. Any savvy Be U Weddings reader could tell you that the flow of the night can make or break a wedding, and figuring out the best way to map out your big night can be very stressful. In Chicago, the two prevailing trends tend to be the traditional format of having the band play after the dinner is finished, or the newer trend of having dance sets in between courses. There are pros and cons to both—and during my time running The Gold Coast All Stars, I’ve gained unique insight into the advantages of both strategies.
Dancing in between courses has become the trendy option in Chicago, and there are a few obvious reasons why. Having your guests enter the reception to an opening short dance set is always a welcome release after cocktail hour, and a great way to set the tone for the evening. The following set that comes in between first and second courses is the tricky one. As a bandleader, I have to ride a fine line between choosing songs that get everyone up and dancing, but not so hyped up that sitting back down ends up feeling like a momentum breaker. I’ve found that mid-tempo songs and feel good slow dances fit sets like this best. Another thing to keep in mind with this format, is that while it gets more people dancing early, the main part of the night is pushed back by as much as an hour. If there have been a bunch of speeches that have dragged on, you risk having your guests feel as though its taken forever to get the party started. My advice would be to have your most showstopping speaker go last to set the tone for the party that will surely ensue.The traditional model of having the dancing occur after dinner has a few good things going for it. For starters, guests have gotten used to it over the years, and while dinners can sometimes drag on, at least the feeling is a familiar one. Not dancing in between meals allows for the main dancing portion of the night to come along a little sooner, but I always tell couples to figure out some ways to still break up the night a bit. A 3 hour + straight set of music is a lot even if you’re at a Bruce Springsteen concert, so don’t be shocked if your guests don’t have that same stamina. Instead, try throwing in a couple natural short breaks into the night- garter/bouquet tosses, cake cutting, or even a great best man speech can do the trick. A few quick breaks are usually enough for guests to catch their breath, fuel up, and want to head back on the floor for more. As for what I like best, I’d have to say it really depends on a myriad of factors—the general age of the guests, how wild a crowd you expect, how familiar the catering staff is with the format and so on. We’ve had great experiences with both formats, and in fact have had great success borrowing the best elements from both on occasion. If you think you’ve got a pretty wild crowd, I’m a big fan of starting the night with a raucous 30-minute dance set, followed by dinner, followed by one long party set. This way you get the best of both worlds by setting the tone for the night with the opening number, where everyone is excited to get going after cocktails, and you still get to the main dance set a little earlier in the evening so everyone still has their mojo.
Hopefully my advice helps you consider some factors in planning your big night that you might not have previously considered. Performing with The Gold Coast All Stars, I really have had a chance to test drive every itinerary imaginable, and no matter which way you decide to go, the two most essential elements to a great wedding are always the people and the band. As long as you get those right, you really can’t go wrong!
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