Mica Grohn
Nothing can ruin a perfectly decent, upbeat party faster than some drunken reknob who decides it's time to play all the depressing tunes of high school and mourn aging and the death of hope. Similarly, nothing's worse than going to a dance party and realizing that people aren't dancing and the reason they aren't dancing is because whatever's on the turntables is COMPLETELY UNDANCEABLE. That's why, unless you're having a Pity Party in which the primary objective is to cryyyy-eee-eye, the following guide to turning your living room into Dance Party USA is totally essential.


A Guide for the Wayward Non-DJ

Five discs to put in the changer if you don't have a DJ:

1. ESG, South Bronx Story

This retrospective of the New York art hiphop/new wave group has been getting heavy airplay in parties around Portland for a good two years now, so much so that it's an essential. Everyone will sing along to "Erase You."

2. Prince, 1999

"1999," "Little Red Corvette," "Delirious" Those are the first three tracks. This record is hot shit.

3. Peaches, The Teaches of Peaches

For some uncomfortable reason, the urgent beats and breathiness of Peaches' "Fuck the Pain Away" always gets the dancefloor shimmying faster (and sexier) than a NoCal 5-4. It's an early electroclash classic, without being too retroclash. Other good electroclash picks: Mount Sims' Ultra Sex, Tracy & the Plastics' Musclers' Guide to Videonics. The compilation Sonic Mook Experiment v. 2: Future Rock & Roll is a good one to just throw in the player; it's got a beat-heavy mix of dancey punk-rock and electro-punk.

(Note on electroclash: It's a perfect genre of music to play at a low-pro, high-impact dance party. Even the dance tracks that sound like they were UPSed from 1982 are great if all you're trying to do is get the booties moving. Some records which might offend retro-naysayers, but won't offend the "I just wanna sweat" contingent: Adult, Resuscitation; Fischerspooner, #1; Ladytron, Light and Magic; W.I.T.'s cover of "Just What I Needed." But if you're gonna do all that, you might as well just throw on New Order's Power Corruption and Lies and call it a day.)

4. Run-DMC, Raisin' Hell

This is an excellent early-on record, or for some late- late-late-night tracks; the beats are slow yet still danceable--perfect for rousing those who arrive at seven, or appeasing the druuuuunnnnkkks who can barely move their arms around, much less dance. And, again--no one can resist rhyming along with "You Be Illin."

5. Aaliyah "Are You That Somebody?"(Conveniently located on the soundtrack to Dr. Dolittle--the Eddie Murphy version.)

Technically, this should actually just be the Diva Contingent pick. Why? Because the rule is: Throw On a Diva, Heat Up the Dance Floor. Mary J. Blige, Mystic, Destiny's frigging Child--all have choice cuts that provide steam for ass-shaking. But PLEASE don't play anything from Miss E So Addictive, especially "Get Ur Freak On"--everyone is sick to death of that song.

Some other tips:

Jeremy at Jackpot Records suggests:

"More than any other song, if you ever play 'Mind Your Own Business' by the Delta Five, it's about as dancey as it gets. Also, 'Gates of Steel' by Devo. Another great one is [Joy Division's] 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'."

For the mod parties, Chazz Madrigal of the Whatever Lounge's weekly Double Barrelled Soul night, recommends the following cuts:

1. Eddie Floyd's "Big Bird"

2. Aretha Franklin's "Rough Lover"

3. The Flirtations' "Nothing but a Heartache"

4. The Creation's "Biff Bang Pow"

A final note: When all else fails, mainstream '80s music freaks the populace like no other--it appeals to the partygoers today in the same way that '70s disco did seven years ago. Classics and novelty songs work best: Madonna's "Get into the Groove," Bananarama's "Venus," Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf," The Smiths' "How Soon is Now," J.J. Fad's "Supersonic," Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Cities in Dust." And remember unless you're having a pity party, NO BALLADS! If people wanna slow dance, they can just as easily freak each other. This is a party, not a couples skate. Now get to humpin'!