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Michael Lenstra
Michael Lenstra
Tomorrow I need to have a conversation with an upcoming couple. Some might call it a Come To Jesus Moment. That may be too severe, and Some would label it a harsh conversation. But, again, it may be too extreme. So I like to refer to it as the Management of Expectations.
The couple's wedding is at the end of the week, and in just the last 48 hours, they sent me a Spotify list. It's chock full of tracks that I would label either obscure or songs that are not known as popular dance tunes. Learning the hard way has taught me that this conversation is necessary. I would have never considered having such a talk in my early years. I would promise the world to get the gig (hey, didn't we all), then find I could not meet expectations and left a trail of unhappy customers. Thankfully for me, online reviews were not a thing yet.
I remember one incident where a bride and groom came to meet with me, and the groom produced a set of compact discs that he had put together. He had taken the time to pick out every song he wanted to be played at his reception – in the order he wanted them – and burnt the CDs. My first trepidation was that there would be a gap of dead air between every song, but then looking at his track listing, I recognized that many of the songs he had were already in my library, so I figured I could skip over his burnt track and play some of those on my second player.
I have to say the groom's set worked… for about the first five or six songs. Then he got into some alternative and grunge songs that were significant only to him and his college buddies. They cleared the dance floor, and they wouldn't come back.
Within a few songs, the panicked groom stood before me.
“Get them out here to dance,” he was pleading.
“Do you want me to segue from the list?” I asked.
“No!” he insisted.
So back to the homemade CDs we went. I was still waiting for the dancers. So finally, I said screw it and started picking and choosing songs from his tracklist that I felt would have a better chance of inspiring people to dance – and they did. I also took some requests.
At the reception's end, the groom returned and retrieved his collection but was obviously not happy. But the bride's parents, who I somewhat knew and were paying me, were.
Then there was the time that a bride insisted I play nothing but country from the beginning to the end of her six-hour wedding reception. “I can do that,” I said, “but do you think that is all anyone will want to hear, not just your family but your cousins, co-workers, and friends? She considered it but said no, keep it country throughout the event.
That is what I did – and she was upset when they were cleaning up and taking the gifts to the car four and a half hours into the party because everyone had left! So you were advised, sweetheart.
So today's conversation will go something like this: “There's a lot of songs on your list that don't normally pop up on our request lists,” I'll tell them, “How do you feel if they don't inspire a lot of people to dance? Are you okay just kicking back and listening to them, or do you want me to move on to more traditional dance music?”
That'll give them something to think about and make a choice. If they tell me they want me to stick to their list AND get people to dance, the conversation becomes more profound.
Either way, in the end, it's their party and their call. The responsibility of fulfilling their vision is as much on them as on us.
Until next week,
~ Michael ~