In my last article, we discussed what songs to play at a kids disco party. Now that you know what music can fill the dance floor, it’s time to look into a specific kind of party–the school end-of-term disco or some other big school dance event.
In this post, I’ll show you how you can apply normal birthday party principles and entertain 100 to 150 (and more) children.
Here in the UK, events like end-of-term discos are popular in the primary school age range, which can be split into Key Stage 1 (5-7 years old) and Key Stage 2 (8-11 years old).
For these events, organisers hire DJs. However, they often complain that DJs “just play music” so the children end up bored pretty soon. The result? A large number of kids running around the hall or chatting, trying to find ways to amuse themselves.
To prevent this from happening, what I do when I get school disco party gigs is I use my normal party principles with the sit-down warm-up chat. I engage the children by asking if they are looking forward to their summer holiday, Christmas break, etc. (This normally gets a loud cheer.)
I then let the kids know that even though they are at school where they would normally have to be fairly quiet, the event is “their party.” That means they can make as much noise as they want. (This results in a resounding response.)
After this little chat, I set a bit of competition between the boys and the girls. I ask, “Who are the best dancers, the boys or the girls?”
You can imagine the kids’ reply.
At this point, it is best to have on hand the most popular songs of the moment. Hit that button and watch the children take your challenge and dance to prove just who are the better dancers.Now because children have short attention spans, it’s no good following this with another song. Inject variety by adding an action dance song that suits the age group of the kids.
Follow this with a simple game of musical statues (which you can theme to suit the season or time of the party). Remember though that this is only for Key Stage 1.
Other normal party games can also be played including the Limbo (take extra sets) and Follow the Leader. You can make things more fun if you line up the children according to their class years and turn the games into a little competition. And while you’re at it, why not get the class teachers to lead in Follow the Leader so they can show their students that they can be cool and funky, too?
For older children (those in Key Stage 2), I add a game show format that I do at intervals to grab their attention. It’s normally boys versus girls and the games are only a few minutes long each (remember that short attention span).
For game ideas, look around your local toy stores. Another source of inspiration can be a-minute-to-win-it games. Check the Internet and see which games you can adapt to the age of the children.Other tips: add some games show music like sound bites and countdowns and always hand out prizes to all the contestants. You can also award extra points for best dancers or take them away if the children are being naughty. This will give you control of the children’s behavior as nobody wants to be the one responsible for having points deducted from his or her team.
I also have a custard-on-a-plate party game which includes using worker safety goggles and giant bibs. This is a great crowd pleaser. Try doing this or some other fun game that you can think of.
By this time, you might have a long line of children requesting their favourite song. To prevent this from happening, I obtain a song list from the schools beforehand. They usually email their list a week or so before the event.
What I do is I include a few songs from each class. Of course I limit the number as I won’t have time to squeeze 120 songs into a 90-minute time slot, and I always filter out songs that I think are unsuitable–yes, even if they are radio-clean versions. I also add a few shout-outs to the children–they love this.
Now if you are being employed by the Parents-Teachers Association, make sure there are a great number of parents around the room to keep an eye on things and perhaps even help out with the games. On arrival, I always make contact with the head teacher and explain how the party will run and answer whatever questions the adults may have. You may do this, too.
You will not need a DBS certificate or an old CRB as you are not working on your own with the children. This, however, is obviously different for every country.Finally, when the event’s at an end, always get the children to thank the PTA or the teachers for putting on their disco. A bit of gratitude goes a long way.
End-of-term school discos can lead you to new clients of all ages. What’s more, if the dance is a fund raiser, you have the opportunity to get bookings throughout the year. So add a bit of games to keep the children engaged and managed throughout the event, which will likely impress the adults and earn you repeat business and even new clients.
In my next post, we will discuss how you can earn more gigs by adding a currently popular movie theme to your party. Watch out for that one.