Oh no…it’s the Chicken Dance!
This weekend commemorated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Stories are all over the place. Classic rock and oldies (yes oldies) stations were playing music from the “3 Days of Peace and Music” in heavy rotation. There is not much more to be gleaned from it. Some of the performers have come back out to play, some in name only, like Blood Sweat and Tears. While I am sure they sounded great, there is no one in the line-up from the original group. I am not surprised however. Fifty years is a long time and except for maybe The Stones, rock-n-roll is pretty much a young man’s/woman’s game.
I am not going to bore you with my take on Woodstock. There are plenty of words written by people that are more well versed about it than me. I am a student of all that is rock so I will defer to the experts on the subject.
Unfortunately, I missed most of the celebrations. Why you ask? I was on a road trip. I caught some of it as I traversed the Allegheny Mountains. We took the I-68 route. It is one of my favorite ways to head east with its majestic views through my home state of West Virginia and Maryland. Our destination? A wedding weekend in Baltimore.
While most of the music world was engrossed in reliving the equanimity of Woodstock, I was preparing for the Chicken Dance.
I have been to many weddings in my lifetime. Some short, some long. Others steeped in ethnic and religious tradition. Even though the ceremonies differed, the one constant in the celebration is the wedding reception. Specifically, the music.
We have all been there at least once. Depending on how far removed you are from the bride and groom dictates the seating arrangement. It could be a table full of family, acquaintances, complete strangers or a mixture of each. Once the formalities are over, you break bread, ding your glass with a spoon to annoy the bride and groom from time to time, the usual stuff.
Back in the day, to go along with the din was a band playing in the background to accompany the meal and conversation. It is rare to see bands at wedding receptions these days. Now it is the disc jockey.
Disk jockeys have evolved from spinning records to tape. In the 90’s it was compact disks. Now they have MP3 players and hard drives at their disposal. They have access to just about anything a wedding party could want, and the ability to call it up with just a few taps or clicks.
Some disk jockeys just play the music, some are interactive. You know the type, they have the props. They try to drag everyone out on the floor, even grandma! If you have read any of my pieces, I have spoken about my love of music. However, much to my wife’s chagrin, I do not dance. I am a listener, a spectator. That is not to say I have never danced. Oh my yes, I have. I will admit that my skills are like a hilarious “Seinfeld” television episode that described a character’s dancing as “a full body dry heave set to music.”
My wife can get me out on the floor for the slow dances. I am not as dangerous to everyone that way, but when it comes to “gatoring” during Otis Day and the Knight’s “Shout” I will be at the bar, thank you very much.
One thing I have noticed over the years is the music does change but in many ways it stays the same. Now, you will hear songs by Lil Jon, Nelly, Beyoncé. But you will still hear Neil Diamond, Frankie Valli, Kool and the Gang and a few other oldie but goodies in there to get people out on the floor. Don’t forget the Chicken Dance, the Electric Slide, the Cha Cha Slide. Those songs bring out everyone from the kids to the mee-maws to dance in complete synchronicity. I have just as much fun watching as they do dancing.
The music is a huge part of the success of any wedding reception. When it is good you can forget if the food was bad or the cake was dry. When it is good you can listen to it rather than that annoying relative blathering on about politics or some other taboo conversation topic. But when it is bad? That can make a reception more like a having a root canal. It magnifies even the most minuscule negatives to a degree that forces everyone to think of an excuse to head for the door. “Why is there no ice in the ice water?” becomes an incident that borders on pandemonium when the music is bad.
Hats of to the disk jockeys and the bands out there still doing their thing at wedding receptions. Next to the bride and groom (and the bartender of course), the people playing the music are arguably the most integral part of the success of the event.
Even though we were in Maryland, the evening’s festivities ended with the whole hall in a circle singing “County Roads” by John Denver. My fellow West Virginians know what the significance of that song is all about. For those few minutes I felt like I was home.
It was a good night.
Good luck Eric and Janelle. We had a great time.
E pluribus unum