Entertaining at a Lavish Sweet 16

By Shayn Satten, “Teen Entertainment Specialist”

Have you ever watched the MTV show, “My Super Sweet 16,” and wondered what it would be like to DJ at such a lavish event?  Well I have, and recently, I got the chance.

The number of entertainers, amount of work, and coordination that go into an “over the top” Sweet 16 is almost beyond belief.  With this particular event an Event Planner was absolutely necessary or chaos would have ensued.  He was responsible for hiring the talent.

The Preparation

The preparation began at 3:00 pm for the party which started at 7:00 pm.  We were a three man crew, made up of myself and two other DJs.  After packing up our gear, we hit the road and headed toward North Jersey to set up in the banquet hall.  Getting everything from the vehicle through the facility was no cakewalk.  We had to carry it up a flight of stairs and through a kitchen that ran the length of the entire facility.

Our massive setup included four speakers, two subs, two trusses with several lasers, rotating heads and TVs mounted on each of them, plus a dry ice machine.

7:00 pm

The guests arrive into the separate cocktail room where we are not entertaining.  Outside, they have two professional photographers taking pictures, and one taking individual red carpet shots with the Sweet 16’s name as a backdrop.  One videographer cases the room during the cocktail hour while the other shoots the main banquet room prior to the start of the party.

8:00 pm

We begin our entrance mix as the guests enter the main banquet room.  We played high energy music, but nothing too familiar to keep the guests from flocking immediately to the dance floor but rather finding their designated seats.

8:15 pm

We silence our music as the Grand Entrance begins.  Two ballerinas are followed by a man and a woman on stilts.  Following close behind are two jugglers, one juggling bowling pins and the other, flashing balls.  Next came a unicyclist and a masked lady with a painted face holding fans.  The next act in the circus parade was a woman dressed like a Las Vegas Showgirl draped in pink feathers, and then two Asian masked human twin dolls.  The Pièce de résistance was the celebrant who was carried into the room on a throne lifted by four strong men wearing nothing but golden underwear.  They set her down on the center of the dance floor.  From there, the party began.

8:45 pm

We halt our mixing again and welcome to the floor a teen Dance Squad (ages 12 to 16) who performed as backup dancers to Beyoncé. Each member approached the Sweet 16, bowed, and presented a rose to her adding up to a large bouquet of roses.  Once she had her bouquet of roses, the dance squad began their routine, a 15 minute mashup of different styles of dancing highlighting each of the members.  At the end, we played a popular high-energy song, while the dance squad helped welcome everyone back to the dance floor.

9:30 pm

The Circus act returned for a large spectacle show doing all of their acts and presenting another stream of roses to the Sweet 16 girl.  At this point, we were told that the show from there on was ours!  Well, not exactly…

10:00 pm

A professional contortionist who had been flown in from Las Vegas, did a performance in a bubble like nothing I have ever seen before.  It is almost impossible to describe how her body moved within that bubble and how she balanced herself on her arms and legs, and even the side of her face.  This act lasted about 20 minutes, and then finally dinner was served.

10:30 pm

The guests leave the room and head out to the buffet area where they all get their food and sit down.  There were four buffet tables each featuring different types of food, one with fruits and sweets, one with different meats, one with grilled food, and finally one with different types of pastas. You can assume that at some point you have seen all of the buffet foods at different events you have been at, but probably never all of them in one place at the same event.  Following dinner, we are asked to stay for an additional hour and a half for overtime until 12:30 pm.

11:00 pm

After dinner, another performer arrives.  She is a famous belly dancer who was a popular act from the show, “America’s Got Talent,” and she performed with two backup dancers.  She did stomach twists, and chest bumps, leg shakes and arm shimmies, and did I mention she and her backup dancers did all of this with plates of lit candles balanced upon their heads?  Then, she did a on-the-spot costume change and balanced a sword on her head as she pranced around our dance floor. At the end, she pulled our Sweet 16 onto the dance floor and attempted to teach her some belly dancing techniques.  It was a futile attempt, but our Sweet 16 was satisfied and she was gleefully highlighted by the belly dancers as the main attraction of the event.

11:30 pm

We prepare for our final set while dessert is being served.  The dessert buffet would have made Willy Wonka Proud.  It featured three sections each with different types of dessert.  There was cotton candy, and chocolate fountains, an ice cream sundae creation area, and a candy bar with every type of candy you could imagine.  As I later found out, the four foot, fully edible, custom cake creation was forgotten and was never served on the fourth buffet table.

Following dessert, and for the rest of the night, we spun a mix loaded with the hottest current music in our arsenal of songs.

My Final Thoughts

It boggles the mind to even try to guess the cost of putting on such an outrageous production; however, as a DJ, I consider myself fortunate to have entertained at such an event.  It really was an experience to remember and I certainly hope I get the chance to do it again.  I hope this article inspires you to seek out this kind of opportunity for yourself.  You’ll work hard but maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll also get paid to do work that you love AND see a Las Vegas Showgirl draped in pink feathers!

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