Possibly my greatest bugbear when it comes to wedding gigs is the very often extremely crap location of the bar in relation to the dance floor. I’d say that only about 40% of wedding venues in South Africa take into account the positioning of the bar in relation to the dance floor when setting up their venues for weddings.
It’s really not rocket science. At weddings, people (especially the men) will naturally gravitate towards a free bar. I know that i would. Who wouldn’t hey? You’ve got to milk the cow when it’s in front of you. I’m not entirely sure that’s a phrase but you get my drift. You would be totally amazed at to what extent this remains an after thought at some venues. It is our biggest battle and we face it on a weekly basis. Just last night we played at a stunning well-known wine-land venue (no names mentioned- Nooitgedacht) in which the bar is located in another room entirely from the actual party. This is an epic fail.
On our band’s booking form, i specifically mention that the bar needs to be near the dance floor but a lot of people ignore it. You are effectively killing your own party. The bar needs to be right there in the thick of the action for the best parties- surely everyone knows that?
Take my word for it.
Every week of my life, i am truly blessed to witness the truly incredible sight of extremely pissed South African men taking over and (eventually) clearing an up to that point full dance floor with an appalling impression of Johnny Clegg.
Let me just place a couple of things into context. I grew up in London- i literally had never heard of Johnny Clegg until i arrived here 7 years ago. I’ve since seen the man perform live and i have to say that he’s bloody brilliant. I’ve also noted that he’s quite an amazing guy and was particularly important and ‘making a noise’ during a period of history in which it was extremely unusual and somewhat dangerous to do so. I also note that he hasn’t really recorded a great song of note since about 1986. I do, however, ‘get’ Johnny Clegg.
But really, does this mean that i have to tolerate and enjoy the sight of a bunch of middle aged men, previously chained to the bar drinking brandy and cokes for four hours take over and ruin all of my good work?!
There’s different levels of ‘Clegg-ness’ you see. Firstly, you get the guys who just like the music who will just drift onto the dance floor with their missus and perhaps offer up the odd whistle. Then you get the guys who automatically clear a good five metres for themselves on the dance floor who offer up not only whistles but huge, gyrating leg thrusts that would under any other circumstances see them and possibly at least three other people hospitalised. THEN you get what we call the full blown Clegg. These are the guys offering all of the above in addition to which they will roll up their trousers and place their ties around their heads.
I must admit, it makes me sad to think that i have missed this undoubtedly quintessentially South African experience of all those 18th birthdays, matric dances and no doubt endless pissed braais with parents that have educated such incredible dance floor feats. In fact, i’m totally jealous. ‘Great Heart’ is one of the best songs we play and long may that continue.
Something that i observed at a wedding a couple of weeks back really struck me as being rather irritating, that being what i call the “MC show’. This is when the MC of a wedding takes it upon himself to essentially make the entire reception largely about, well, himself. I’m not saying that this is a common occurrence. I’d say its about 1 in 15. In my book, the role of a master of ceremonies is to welcome everyone into the reception, lay down the ground rules, set out the order of events and basically tell you where the toilets are and where you can and can’t smoke. The MC will be the guy who’s not quite high up the rankings enough to be a best man but he’s a good, solid bet and a close mate. You can go tried and tested with a reliable person in your group or you might want to push the boat out a bit and give the role to someone with a bit more punch- a bit of humour and a definite crowd pleaser. In some instances, the MC might be the brother of the groom who isn’t the best man or the brother of the bride. So, for me at least, the role is quite a simple and defined one. Lay out the rules, set the tone and introduce the big hitters. If it were only so simple in everyone’s minds…
I’ve witnessed at least three MC’s in the last month alone who’ve taken it upon themselves to literally take over the reception. Ok, i’ll accept a little speech after the bride and groom have entered but what i can’t tolerate is an MC who decides to speak, to offer anecdotes about the happy couple and about his relationship with them before introducing every speaker in the evening. I even saw one MC (unnamed) the other week who’s vibe was to get the whole crowd to shout out a saying on his cue about ten times during the night. and it TOTALLY bombed. So, rant over. If you’re a master of ceremonies at a wedding, set the tone, lay out the ground rules and steer the folks through the evening subtly and manfully. Don’t take over the whole bloody event!
My name is Dan Green and i’m a wedding singer. That’s me in the photo above. As you can see, i’m absolutely mental. This is a studio shot of me. The miracle here is not that the photographer manages to make me look vaguely cool but that i managed to stay airbourne long enough to make it possible. I’m part of the band Me and Mr Brown . I sing at a lot of weddings, something like 60 a year. I also sing at a lot of other parties, corporates and big festivals but it’s really at weddings that i see and observe the craziest, funniest sh*t that you will ever see. So i thought i’d share these observations with the world. I have no idea how i ended up doing my job but i do love it. Sometimes i see things that amaze me- things that literally blow me away. Some things irritate me, some things make me laugh and i want to share them all with you. You can read this blog for amusement purposes or even if you need help planning a wedding or function. When you play at 60 weddings a year, i think that you are entitled to give your advice, opinions and observations. Take it or leave it. Just enjoy, spread the word and remember, when i’m singing into my microphone mid song, it’s not the best time to shout into my ear begging me to play Gagnam Style. And no, you can’t go to the car and get your I Phone so that you can plug it in and play some random track that literally only you will know.