Good questions all. Here's the answers:
1. Boomer Dance Parties focus on the dance music between the mid fifties and late sixties. That's DANCE music because there were a lot of tunes playing on the AM radio during that time, and most were for LISTENING to and maybe signing along with. But a dance party is about dancing so the tunes are specifically selected for their danceability. Try to picture yourself dancing to "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford and you'll know what I mean.
Not just any dance tune makes the cut. I select from the Billboard Top 100 R&B and Pop charts, so if it didn't chart on one of those, you probably won't hear it. There are also regional charts which means it played briefly on the radio, but boomers from the East Coast, Midwest, or South never heard of it. While I may play local regional hits by the Bay Area's own Tower of Power, I wouldn't have any "grunge' from the NW, country from Memphis or Nashville, Salsa from Miami, or Norteno from Texas. My focus is on the pop music that may have found its way onto Ed Sullivan, American Bandstand, Soul Train, Hullaballoo, Lloyd Thaxton, Hollywood-a-Go-Go, etc. Only one tune in 5 belongs to that category on the basis of 1) danceability, and 2) familiarity.
2. Final note on music: I am a stickler for the original recordings from the time period that is the theme of the dance party. I don't play big band tunes. I don't play anything from the 80s and 90s...which are considered "oldies" today.
3. Wear what you feel comfortable in. I remember having to wear a coat and tie at my first school dance. Fellas: Don't wear a coat and tie. Ladies, skirts (of a proper length) and sensible shoes with a low heel are NOT recommended. 90% of the boomers at a typical dance party are wearing sneakers.
That said, costumes are GREAT and definitely encouraged for the disco events. That's a big part of the whole disco era...the fashions! So platform shoes, leisure suits, hip hugging bell bottoms, hot pants, spandex, lots of polyester, peter pan-style collars on men's shirts, halter-top jumpsuits...all most welcome. (Google disco fashion;images) I like to award prizes for the most groovacious costumes to the top 5 participants. Great fun!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Ladies: do not show up at a boomer dance party wearing a poodle skirt. That was late 40s to early 50s and predates the boomer experience. BUT, school sweaters, athletic "letter" jackets or sweaters with letters for achievement in music, marching band, or the high school debate/speech team? Oh yes! Wear 'em, please! Cheerleader costume up in the attic? Yes please.
4. A few more words about the music. I printout a playlist for every dance party that shows the artist's names and the date the tune was released. If the event is a "standard" boomer dance party, you will hear nothing but great dance music from the late 50s to the mid sixties. If the theme is identified as "disco" (i.e disco inferno, disco explosion, disco apocalypse, Friday Afternoon fever, etc.) then the tunes will come from 1968-69 to 1979. Disco was a huge stylistic piece of real estate and these events are carefully "curated" to capture the most danceable tunes that offer you a "vertical tasting" of dance styles, from line dancing and smooth (partner) dancing to the funky, soulful stuff that dominated West Coast clubs. Most people just get up and do their own thing.
BONUS QUESTION: Do I "modify" tunes? Yes. Quite a bit. You won't notice unless you really like the long, overly long, indulgent intros of disco songs that can run for as long as a couple minutes before the dance tempo stuff kicks in. Sorry Donna Summers..."Last Dance" just takes too long to get moving. And you Alicia Bridges...I like the Nightlife too, so just get on with it. Finally, I do speed up a lot of tunes by 2 to 3%. I adjust the pitch so the vocalists don't sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. Oh yes, the slight tempo bumps make a difference that packs the dance floor. And if you ever hear me play "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" by Johnathan King? Slowed down 3.2%. Such a hauntingly beautiful song made slightly more danceable for clumsy guys with two-left feet like me.
5. Do you need to bring a dance partner. Absolutely not. I program the playlist so that regardless of whether you have a partner you will enjoy the hell out of yourself just groovin to the Twist, the Jerk, the Monkey, and mashup of all the dances you learned from watching your Sister and her friends or watching Soul Train. I do throw in a classic partner dance or two in each set, and yes, the dance floor fills up.
That's all for now. Keep on dancin"!