It has long been an unwritten rule of mine, when it comes to middle school dances, to keep the girls dancing. This may sound sexist, but truth be told, it’s the girls who do the bulk of the actual dancing at a middle school dance; most boys are simply too lame to see the value of dancing with a girl at that age. Another unwritten rule of mine at school dances is to save the most requested song for the end of the dance. This flies in the face of the strategy of some DJs. They might argue that it’s smart to play the big hits first to get them excited early on and keep them hyped throughout the dance, a kind-of dessert-first attitude. I employed the opposite strategy. I’d rather build the suspense, and leave them as excited as possible at the end. The drawback is that you end up fielding the “dude, when are you playing our song?!” requests about 100 times, but it’s worth it.
This strategy makes sense when the song is an up-tempo party jam that’ll have the floor full and the kids jumping. But, what happens when the huge song at the moment is a slow song? And, what happens when there are tears involved? Real, “oh my god, please play it” tears? In the case of My Heart Will Go On, I found myself breaking a couple of my unwritten rules. At first, I’d play the song early on in the evening. It was clear that the boys were not fans, and this was understandable. Girls wouldn’t dance with the boys. They’d get in circles and sing… loudly… and cry. Some girls (and this is before cell phones) would pull pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio out of their pockets, and sing to Leo. And cry. The teenage boys in the gym never had a chance.
So, I’d play the song early on. But, the demand for that one song was so great, I’d end up playing it as the last song of the night. Imagine 100, or 200 13 year old girls screaming “You’re… here… there’s nothing I fear” at the top of their weeping lungs. Parents, eager to pick their kids up, were lining the edge of the dimly lit gym, wondering what therapist they could take their daughters to. Boys were shooting me the “you’re KILLING me!” face. Chaperones merely shook their heads, while the girls clutched their tear-soaked pictures and pledged their undying love to Jack Dawson.
It’s a DJs dream to play songs that get a universal positive response from the people on the dance floor. Believe it or not, My Heart Will Go On drove many a kid nuts back in ’97, and I got to watch. It was a blast.