All-Ages Dinner Party Playlist: Plus a Bonus Dance Party Mix!

Party Playlists From The Kitchn

Pin it button big

If you've ever hosted a multi-generational gathering, you know the question of what music to play is a tough one. You don't want to see Grandma huddled in the corner covering her ears, or your friend's teenage cousin rolling her eyes all night. So I turned to a professional for help — my pal Ian Gotler, wedding DJ extraordinaire, who knows how to make a playlist that appeals to people of all ages. (And if you're in the mood for dancing, be sure to check out his bonus dance mix!)

I know about Ian's playlist-making prowess firsthand because he and his partner Tony Liebetrau were the DJs at my own wedding. (You can check out Tony's dinner party playlists too.) And I know he excels at pleasing guests of all ages because while he was manning the DJ booth at my wedding, the most ancient great-aunt in attendance walked up to him and said, "They told me you were good...but they were wrong. You're not good — you are amazing."

With that in mind, I asked Ian to make a playlist for a party with guests of all ages. Here's what he has to say about making a successful dinner party mix:

The important thing to keep in mind when creating a dinner playlist is that no song should ever get too loud or too quiet. That said, I try to find evenly paced, upbeat, positive songs with a good energy. I like to start out with a few singer/songwriter tracks and slowly move into soul/R&B/Motown so that the energy of the music builds with the energy in the room.

Yes, Ian knows how to get toes tapping during dinner, but he really shines once guests hit the dance floor. So I couldn't resist asking him to make a dance party playlist — probably because I always secretly hope my own dinner parties will end in a fun dance party. This is decidedly not an all-ages playlist, unless you happen to have a great-aunt who doesn't mind shimmying around to hip-hop and Madonna. In which case, lucky you!

Want to be a dance party playlist master? Here's Ian's advice:

The biggest mistake most people make is that they try to be cool and pick songs no one's ever heard before. The thing to remember about creating a fun dance mix is that you want 90% of the people to be able to sing along to 90% of the lyrics. Top 40, old school hip-hop, soul, oldies, '80s, indie...this playlist has a little bit of everything so that you can see a couple of my personal faves from each genre.

Warning: There is some NSFW language in this playlist. Although if you are allowed to have a dance party at work in the middle of the day, maybe it is safe for your work.


Thanks, Ian!

More music from Ian: RedShoe

(Images: Spotify)