The #1 most frequently used "Search" term that people are using to find my website...by a HUGE margin is "baby boomer playlist." There are a dozen variations on that, including "boomer dance music" and "baby boom song list." They all seem to be looking for one thing: the essential dance tunes. I don't mean listening tunes. I mean the tunes that get people on the dance floor.
Keep in mind that even the best tunes need a little "context." There is a start, a middle, and an end to every dance party. There are slow tunes that tend to exclude singles because, well, you don't want to be dancing to a smoldering slow tune with a married colleague or neighbor. If the room is too brightly lit, some dancers are inhibited and may sit out even the best tunes. Save the funky stuff until you have a few bodies up and dancing...stick with the "gateway" tunes to start...tunes that are familiar and...well...beloved.
That said, here are my recommendations. They are guaranteed to get a reaction and if the crowd is primarily boomer-aged, they will hit the floor without an elevated blood-alcohol level.
One other thing...there are distinct sub-groups in Baby Boomer dance music. The holy trinity are 1) late 50s, 2) 60's, and 70's up to classic disco. Those groups make more sense than "Motown, Funk/Soul, and what I like to call (snob alert) "Happy Days" which is late 50's sock-hop music that has been famous in movies, most notably "American Graffiti." (A GREAT movie!) Real 50's music is a different animal. All partner dancing, vocalist-heavy tunes that are great over dinner, good used sparringly, but otherwise will drive people right off the dance floor. Pronto, Tonto. Early and mid-50's is good enough for pledge night on KQED, but no...not in your playlist!
Late 50's (The Golden Age of dance-worthy Elvis)
- Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley & the Comets
- At The Hop - Danny and the Juniors
- School Day - Chuck Berry
- Jailhouse Rock or Hound Dog - These are the reason Elvis is THE KING
- Smoke Gets in You Eyes - The Platters
- Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
- Chance Are - Johnny Mathis
- Tequila - The Champs
- I Only Have Eyes for You - The Flamingos
- I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank (the version arranged by Nelson Riddle and performed with the N. Riddle Orchestra)
- Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins
In Part 2 I will cover the "heavy lifter" tunes that are the core of a Boomer Dance party...the incredible explosion that was the Sixties.
As always, if you don't agree with my list...go out and make your own.