These past few weeks, I have been discussing “Cheese” with a number of mobile DJs from all across the world and what is considered cheesy in different parts of the USA and the UK. I can tell you without reservation that the main thing I have learned is that every single person that I talked with had a different definition and interpretation of what is considered Cheesy!
Matt Cohen http://www.dj-mc.com in Sacramento, CA has a page on his website with a list of music that he considers cheesy and tells his clients he won’t play any of this music unless they request it. However, in the Northeastern States, the Chicken Dance and Y.M.C.A. are wedding staples and are not only expected, but required, along with a couple of special Polka’s. In the United Kingdom the songs that are considered cheesy in the US are almost always played and are considered much fun.
It is not only music that is considered cheesy, but the actions of the DJ rank very high on the cheese scale! Recently a You Tube video is circulating of a DJ that clears the dance floor at a wedding so that he can show off his dancing moves. Clearly, from a professional DJ/Entertainer point of view, this is very cheesy appearing. However, there is the possibility that the DJ was a friend of the bride and groom and THEY wanted him to do this, and in that case, it is entertainment, not cheese. The question has to be decided by the DJ as to whether you want to be a classy wedding entertainer, or a clown. Does the attention have to be on you?
If so, you have no business performing at weddings and you need to limit your work to clubs or the radio where the spotlight can be on you. Wedding entertainers have an obligation to their clients to create a fun, classy and memorable reception party that is tailored specifically to the bride and groom. One word that was used by many was “relevance.” From the cocktail hour music to last dance, everything we do must be relevant to the couple, their family and their wishes. If we force our choices on our clients, then everything we do can be considered cheesy!
Personally, I am a very interactive DJ, I offer games and audience interactive segments to all of my clients, many of them did not even know such things were available, and some have seen the same things done so badly at someone else’s wedding that they would not consider it for their own. An important question to ask every client is “What do you consider cheesy?” You might be surprised at the answers you get. Peter Merry is known for his amazing expanded introductions, and Mark Ferrell for his Love Stories, but many DJs that I know consider both of those things cheesy. If these are done poorly they certainly are cheesy, but the way Peter and Mark do their respective specialties, they are amazingly relevant and appropriate.
I consider DJs that bring huge light shows to weddings to be cheesy because I don’t use light shows, I prefer to rely on my personal abilities to entertain rather than equipment. I think that signs and banners, inflatable guitars, or forcing people to the dance floor are always cheesy. Untrained voices and talking too much or at the wrong time is also cheesy.
The bottom line is, “Cheese is the DJ” because no matter what interaction, game or bit is done, if not discussed with the client and/or done poorly is always cheesy. Take time to meet with your clients several times. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what they want, and then deliver it with professionalism and style!