A group of people are dancing on the dance floor at an event.

When planning an event, one of the biggest challenges is making sure everyone has a great time. This can be especially true if your guests are reluctant to dance; nothing kills a party quite like a crowd that’s too shy to get down. That’s why we’ve compiled a great list of ways to motivate guests to dance at your event, which will ensure everyone has a fun and memorable experience.

You have to play good music.

It’s no secret that the music you play will have a huge impact on whether or not people dance at your event. But there’s much more to the music component than just choosing great songs. You’ll also need to figure out if you should hire a DJ or a band, and whether or not to accept song requests. Nailing down those three things should help encourage guests to dance all night long.

Music Selection

Putting together the playlist is the first step. If you want your guests to dance, choose songs with driving beats and rhythms that make you want to move. Keep the tempo upbeat, but throw in a slow song every once in a while for guests who are looking for a dance with that special someone. In addition to a playlist, make a do-not-play list to give to whoever’s controlling the tunes.

Who should play the music?

Whether you hire a DJ, a band, or handle the music yourself, it’s important to keep your guests entertained. If you hire a band, decide in advance what they will play and how frequent their breaks will be. Consider lining up some other music to play in between sets – even if it’s just a laptop with a playlist on it. And make sure there’s interaction with the guests; whoever’s in charge of the music should get everyone pumped up to dance and have a good time.

Play appropriate music and take song requests.

Not only should you choose songs that are easy to dance to, but you also should play music that’s appropriate. Consider factors like the age of your guests, their general attitudes toward music and their genre preferences. Also consider allowing guests to request songs throughout the event; that will give them even more incentive to dance. You could take it a step further and throw in a few songs you know they’ll like from the beginning.

Get the Party Started Yourself

If you’ve got great music, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting guests to dance. But you may still have a hard time getting those first few people to hit the dance floor. Often times, no one wants to be seen dancing by themselves, which means several songs go by before things get moving. Consider kicking off the dancing yourself or asking a few close friends to do it for you. If someone leads the way to the floor, others are sure to follow.

You need to have a dedicated dance floor.

Another key factor in getting guests to dance is the space. You need to choose a venue with a dedicated dance floor  – or add a dance floor to the setup if you’re not renting a space – with plenty of room for people to move around. People are more likely to dance when they can move about freely without bumping into people around them unintentionally. They also feel more comfortable dancing when it’s obvious they’re meant to. Having a space already cleared out and set up for dancing can make a huge difference.

Make sure there’s a bar near the dance floor.

This one is very important, but not only because alcohol is known to get people to loosen up; it’s also important because it’s common for guests at events to hang around the bar. Guests may run into someone they know while getting drinks, which leads to them sparking up a conversation, which leads to another round. Or if the bar is a long walk from the dance floor, guests may be less willing to go back and forth all night. But if there’s a bar close to the dance floor, guests are more likely to want to join other guests who are already dancing.

Set aside time solely for dancing.

Events can be busy affairs. There may be a sit-down meal, toasts, gift openings and all kinds of other activities planned. That means if dancing is important to you, make sure you leave ample room for it on the schedule. Guests don’t want to miss any of the action, so set aside time for dancing when there’s nothing else going on. Having this designated time will also give your guests the freedom to dance without worrying about missing anything.

Surprise guests with a special performance.

A unique, unexpected performance is sure to hype up guests. At a wedding, for example, the wedding party will sometimes prepare a special dance routine. You also could plan a ladies-only dance, or a father-daughter dance. One tried-and-true method to get folks dancing is to add songs with specific dance moves to the lineup. Some classic ones include the “Cha-Cha Slide” and “Y.M.C.A.”

If you stop the dancing, have a plan to get things going again.

Once you have guests up and moving, the worst thing you can do is kill the momentum of the party. It can be difficult to get things up and running again if the dancing stops. One way to avoid this is to keep the music playing without too much interruption; it may be enough to reduce the volume during parts of the event that require guests to listen, such as toasts or speeches. You may could even make those special moments stand out by accompanying them with the right background music.

Dancing makes any event lively and fun. Use these tips to encourage guests to dance, and they’ll be talking about your event for a long time to come. But don’t forget to join in and have a great time yourself. After all, you did help make the event possible.