Let’s Face the Music and Dance

By Guest Blogger: Theo Bleckmann

As Preston’s partner I have had the great fortune of seeing a lot of his work in person and to be a guest at many of them.

Even after 5 years, I am still overwhelmed and in awe every time I see his work.

Being a singer and composer I have a particular sensitivity to the music portion and after gabbing about it to Preston for years, he kindly allowed me to share these thoughts with you.

I cannot think of anything more joyful than dancing together. There is something beautifully disarming and bonding in moving with each other, especially when you are strangers.

Music and dance are such essential elements to a good party.

To quote Nietzsche: “Without music, life would be a mistake…I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance.”

Before I get going, I have to say that I always love to hear live music at an event.

It adds extra excitement, just like real flowers that vanish–live music is ‘of the moment’ and makes me appreciate that moment even more so.

DJs are great and can be really fun (DJ Reika blew the roof off a party I went to recently) but if I had my druthers, I’d always choose live music (if budget and space allow for it, of course).

A lot of the wedding bands I have heard are excellent: really great singing in close-to-original arrangements and even original keys and tempi. A lot of the repertoire is based on the client’s wish-list of hit songs from Motown to Lady Gaga. 
But here comes my personal conundrum: even at their most excellent, these covers make my heart sink ever so slightly.

This is not because they’re played by a wedding band (as I said, they can be truly excellent), but because it’s NOT the original track I have a heard a million times and one that is produced to the gills–filled with effects and manicured to perfection over months and months in the studio without the original voice.

How to get around it?

For one, it might not bother anyone but me, in which can you may skip the rest of my musings and go right to the dance floor.

I have seen people dance with great abandon to top 40s (including myself) and ultimately that’s the goal: dancing and enjoying the music together. Of course, the style of music has to fit the occasion and theme, as was the case at a recent event in which Preston created a 1940’s club: a jazz big band played the hits and everyone danced feverishly, including Fergie (yes, thee Fergie).

There is something beautifully disarming and bonding in moving with each other, especially when you are strangers.

At another great Preston event, a client hired “Tainted Love,” a San Francisco dance band that limited their repertoire to only ’80s dance hits and played them in their own arrangements. It worked fantastically well and everyone danced to songs we knew but hadn’t heard in a long while – so they were fresh, surprising and fun.

However, about 6 years ago I went to my best friend’s wedding and they hired a band called “The Ebony Hillbillies.” For some reason, only two musicians showed: the banjo and the fiddle. Whether it was financial or the rest of the band was not available, I don’t really know but I expected musical doldrums.

I have never seen a crowd leap to their feet more quickly. Everyone danced to this Bluegrass Rockabilly Country mash-up. Everyone! The same happened at Ivanka Trump’s wedding when the Klezmer band started to play the hora. And it occurred to me that there is a whole world of wedding (folk) dance music out there, specifically written for this very purpose: to celebrate, dance and sing along with wreckless abandon.

I have seen this happen over and over again–an African kora player, a Bouzouki band at a Greek wedding or a phenomenal Balkan Brass band called “Slavic Soul Party”–people just can’t help but dance.

To my delight, everyone moves without inhibitions or self-conscience -– perhaps because there hasn’t been a Beyoncé or Lady Gaga showing us how to do it “correctly”? Everyone’s dance is the right dance and that, to me, is pure bliss.

What tickles your dance shoes? What style of music do you think works best in events? DJs or live musicians? Classic R&B or contemporary hits?

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