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Multicultural and International Wedding Music Tips

Here are some multicultural and international wedding music tips from NYC based DJ Joe Lopez. Joe is an extremely versatile and experienced DJ. He is in his element for just about any wedding, multicultural or not.

International weddings are some of the best times I’ve had as a DJ. The energy can be amazing and as someone who is always open to learning new styles of music, I’ve always welcomed the challenge of playing genres or certain music that I have no previous experience with. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my tactics and tips to hopefully help give any newly engaged couples a better idea of what to look for in potential DJ prospects for a bi-racial or multi-cultural style wedding.

 Setting a Soundscape:

If there is a theme, musical, environmental or cultural, the cocktail & dinner portions of the night should reflect that as well. If there is a heavy Latino presence at the wedding, some old school Latin jazz, samba and bossa nova sprinkled in during dinner will work nicely and set the tone for what’s to come later on. In some cases it may not be about nationality but more the environment, maybe the venue sets a tone that is ideal for French musette or maybe an American couple who is well traveled just has an affinity for Afro beat. There are plenty of ways to incorporate international music throughout the course of the day, not just on the dance floor, so keep that in mind when trying to find the right musical fit for the cocktail & dinner portions of the wedding.

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Supply your DJ with as much music and information as you can in advance so they can do the prep work and study the songs or genre on their own time and generate ideas on how and when they can play them. I once had a Polish family send me some music and one of the songs was a cover of Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida”, so I made a mash up of sorts with both songs and it worked extremely well. Bollywood, Reggaeton & European Dance music are also very much influenced by American pop and mix in well with Major Lazer, Daft Punk & Calvin Harris style dance songs.

Couples should survey their international guests and/or family members & provide the DJ with exact song names, YouTube links, or mp3’s directly.

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Knowing how to mix things up:

Keep in mind that your DJ does have to account for the guests that are just friends or extended family and make it a point to make sure no one feels alienated. This could be more common in bi-racial weddings where say you have an Indian groom and Irish bride, the Irish side of the family may dance to some Indian music but after a while they may feel left out and vice versa, so a good DJ should always feel the crowd out and know when to move into something on more common ground. Latin music is also fun for a few dances, but generally requires a partner and is not the type of music a DJ would do a heavy set of.

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Cultural Differences:

It’s important to make sure your DJ does not generalize a genre based on the nationality they are dealing with. For example, not all Spanish music should be treated the same, Dominicans and Colombians, from my experience, seem to be more partial to Merengue than Salsa which may be preferred more by Puerto Ricans and then you have Cumbia and Bachata which are bigger in European Spanish cultures and South America. Indian music can be even more challenging as there are also different styles for certain regions and although the language may sound the same to the DJ, the dialects are different and can sometimes come off wrong if there is music playing from one region to a group of people from another, so it is good make your DJ aware of any dos and don’ts when it comes to the particular sub-culture they are dealing with.

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