Whether it’s a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Cocktail Reception, Gala Dinner or Wedding in New York, there are certain elements that ensure that your event will stand out from the rest. Herbert Rose has over 40 years of experience as Director of Catering at New York’s finest venues, and is now Director Emeritus at GUASTAVINO’S and 583 Park Avenue. Over the next few weeks the patriarch of The Rose Family will share his commentary on the factors that make an event stand out from the crowd. This week: Music

The key to success when booking a band or DJ is to go for the best music that you can afford. I’ve always advised clients that if you are going to stretch the event budget in any area, music should be it. Music is the single aspect of your event that, when done perfectly, can lift your event from ordinary to exceptional.

Before spending a lot of money there is one very important question to ask yourself. What kind of music will my guests enjoy dancing to? What will get them up and on the dance floor even if they aren’t typically much of a dancer? Consider your guest list, their ages, ethnic backgrounds and their point of reference in the social world.

One of the most perfect weddings I ever arranged was flawed by the wrong choice of orchestra. The décor, the food, the ambiance, everything was superb. For the music, however, they chose Bob Hardwich, an outstanding “high society” orchestra, very much in the Peter Duchin, Mike Carney idiom. To enjoy Hardwich’s orchestra to the fullest you must know how to Fox Trot. The Fox Trot, once learned at the dance classes in major cities and country clubs in particularly genteel suburbs, has passed most of my children and grandchildren’s generation by. Very few young people are inducted into that social milieu today and, consequently, are not at home with that style of dancing. At this particular wedding the bride and groom’s friends, although from very well to do backgrounds, felt bored and out of place with that style of music. Parents and grandparents were thrilled, but without the full participation of the younger guests the party screeched to a halt.

There is a band I absolutely love a called “The Night Hawks”. They are New York’s, and in my opinion North America’s, foremost practitioners of 1920’s music. They are so good, in fact, they were chosen to provided the music for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”. I use them for background music at social and corporate events whenever possible, but in 2014 their genre is simply not appropriate for dancing.

In every facet of planning a wedding, Bar or Bat Mitzvah and nonprofit event I strongly advise clients not to “high class their guests to death”. When it comes to live music, at 583 Park Avenue and Guastavino’s we recommend the Hank Lane Orchestras. They are without question the best in the business, with high quality musicians in every genre, with an emphasis on youth. I cannot overstate the importance youthful performers have in meeting the “sex appeal” entertainment quotient.

That brings us to the question of hiring live musicians vs. a DJ. With a D.J. you hear the music by the original artists. A good DJ with a state of the art sound system will bring your event recorded music at the highest possible quality. So why bother with hiring musicians who are not as talented to play other people’s music under less than perfect conditions? Why take a chance on unknown live musicians who may have an off night, or not be that great to begin with?

The answer is complex but the bottom line is that when it comes to social events and dancing, live music will always trump recorded performances. Only with living breathing musicians can your guests make that connection, have that chemistry, which raises their enjoyment and appreciation of the music to make their experience really special. A record, no matter how wonderful, can’t hold a candle to seeing performers at their best performing for your pleasure. In addition, a good band leader will sense what will get your guests up on the floor and know just how long to keep the dancing going before letting them up for air.

Note: If you will be booking an event in New York City in the near future, please consider the following performers. In my opinion they are the top five social bands in New York today:

Harris Lane

Bobby Attiko

Eric Marshall

Steve De Lisi

Michael Hart

Contact the Hank Lane office for more information.

Herbert Rose is Director Emeritus at GUASTAVINO’S and 583 Park Avenue. He has over 40 years of experience as Director of Catering at New York’s finest venues. Future commentaries will include temperature and party planning.

Have a question for Herbert? CONTACT US today and he will be happy to address it in a future post.