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Best Music for an Awesome Kid’s Dance Party!

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NOTE: This list was originally compiled in 2011, but it has been seeing a lot of hits lately so I thought it would be fun to repost with some new 2013 updates! Be sure to check the comments in the original post for more suggestions!

Recently I’ve gotten a handful of emails asking me, “What would be fun, “non-kid” music to play at a birthday party??” Music that is still kid-friendly and appropriate, of course! I thought it would be fun to compile a Master List of some tunes that are super rockin’ for party go-ers of all ages. Our mission? Get the kids AND parents dancing! Here were our guidelines:

1. Kiddo-friendly. Nothing overly dour, slow or with inappropriate lyrics.

2. Upbeat! Silly! Fun! High energy music that is great for boppin’ around to.

3. Sing-a-long factor! If it has an easy chorus, bonus points!

4. Parent pleasing. I love a good round of Farmer in the Dell as much as the next gal, but it’s kind of nice to rock out to grown up tunes, no?

5. Recognizable. Nothing super obscure or too indie. Your child may love Yoshimi Battle’s the Pink Robots, but we wanted a mix that everyone could relate to.

Please note! This list is not about me impressing you with my hipster/indie music street cred. This is about inspiring kiddo’s with fun jams and giving your cool meter a shove and allowing yourself to embrace the cheesy goodness of pop! I’ve broken this down by decade—feel free to mix and match for your own Mega Mix!

[Unfortunately I can’t give you the tracks, but I’m happy to help you track ’em down if you need ’em.] Let’s go!

THE 1950s/60s

This era is filled with tunes that are goofy, bouncy and pretty darn wholesome. What’s not to love? There are a zillion more I’m missing, but these should get you started!

“La Bamba” -Richie Valens

“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash (perfect for young Woody & Jessie fans….)

“Twist and Shout” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” “Birthday” “Octopuses Garden”- The Beatles (I mean, you really you can’t go wrong with any Beatles song!)

“Wipe Out” – The Ventures

“Build Me Up Buttercup” – Foundation

“The Loco-Motion” – Little Eva

“Day-O” – Harry Belafonte

“I’m A Believer” – The Monkees

“The Twist” – Chubby Checker

“Magic Carpet Ride” – Steppenwolf

“Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies

And of course  anything by Elvis, James Brown….

The 1970s

Classic Rock. Disco. Punky. Funky. The Seventies had it all—and these groovy tunes make for an amazing kiddo dance party. Start with some bad ass classics, so the dads can feel cool, and by the time you throw on that LIPPS Inc., they won’t even know what hit ’em!

“Bliztkrieg Bop” – The Ramones. “HEY! HO! Let’s GO!” The classic anthem that’s is guaranteed to get kids rockin’. But really any Ramones song. Right?

“Rock & Roll All Night” – KISS

“We Will Rock You. “ – Queen

“You Shook Me All Night Long.” – AC/DC

“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

“Shake Your Booty” – KC & the Sunshine Band

“Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees

“Dancing Queen” -ABBA

“YMCA” – Village People

“Car Wash” – Groovy tune and hey, you just might get a clean car outta the deal too. Not too shabby!

“Le Freak (Freak Out)” – Chic

“You’re the One That I Want” – Grease Soundtrack

“Rock the Boat” – Hues Corporation. I had no idea who sang this song, I just knew that every kid loves to “Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat ovah!!”

“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

“Funky Town” – Lipps Inc.

You see where I’m going here, right? DISCO = AWESOME DANCE PARTY.

The 1980s

Ah, the 80s. If disco’s not your bag, go for the candy colored goodness of a new wave dance party. You get the big nostalgia factor of your elementary school/junior high memories—and who doesn’t love to watch little kid’s chanting, “Hungry Like the WOLF! Hungry Like the WOLF!!”

“That’s What I Like About You” – Romantics

“Blinded Me With Science” – Thomas Dolby (“Good heavens Ms Sakamoto, we’ve got a DANCE PARTY!”)

“Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

“Get Into The Groove” – Madonna

“C’mon Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

“Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

“Walk Like an Egyptian” — The Bangles

“We Got the Beat” – The Go-Gos

“Mickey” – Toni Basil

“You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

“Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

“Flashdance” – Irene Cara

“Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

“Jump” – Van Halen

“Busta Move” – Young MC

“Walkin on Sunshine”- Katrina and the Waves

Tip: any song that has a verb in the title is a guaranteed booty shaker: JUMP! STRUT! WALK! BUSTA MOVE! You get the idea…


OK. So maybe you want something a little more au courant. I admit, some of these are cheesy but remember this is all about the kids havin’ fun! (And ok fine. I’ve been known to rock the vaccum to Katy Perry. What??)

“Gangnam Style” —PSY (Remember….it’s FOR THE CHILDREN!!)

“What Makes You Beautiful” – One Direction

“Starships” — Nicki Minaj (CLEAN version, of course)

“We are Never (Ever) Getting Back Together” — Taylor Swift (they won’t know its a breakup anthem, they’ll just love to sing “Weeeeeee!”)

“Good Feelin” — Flo Rida. (Yep. Bouncey clean hip hoppy fun.)

“Stereo Hearts” — Gym Class Heroes, with Adam Levine

“Just Dance” or “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga (download the clean versions)

“Please Don’t Stop the Music” – Rihanna

{some tracks from a few years back!}

“Firework” – Katy Perry

“Dynamite” – Taio Cruz

“Hey Ya”-  Outkast

“Sweet Escape” – Gwen Stefani

“Life is a Highway” Rascal Flatts. If your child has seen the movie Cars, then you’ll know that this song is pretty cute.

“Me Myself and I” – De La Soul

“D.A.N.C.E” – Justice

“Kids” – MGMT

“Cha Cha Slide” – Mr. C the Slide Man (yeah, I had to look that up….I though Mr. C was the dad on Happy Days….)

“A Punk” – Vampire Weekend

“I Got A Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas

SIDEBAR: I can’t watch the Black Eyed Peas any more without thinking of that SNL skit. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, watch it now. SO FUNNY. But  ya know, the kids love to jump around to them. And Fergie was super sweet when we shot a commercial with her [OOF! NAME DROP!] so yeah, BEP make the list.

Michael Jackson.

The dance master. The one. The only.

The man gets his own category. ABC, I Want You Back and Rockin’ Robin from The Jackson 5. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough and Rock With You, from Off the Wall. Beat It. Thriller. Black & White. The list is endless. You can’t go wrong with Michael, people.


As a little surprise, I love to throw on some TV and movie theme songs—it always brings a smile and a “Hey!!! I know this!” If you have a really little one, think Little Einsteins, Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba etc. You can also go for Disney classics—Supercalifragilistic, Under the Sea, The Tiki Room Theme Song, Yo Ho Pirates of Carribean song etc. Slightly older kids will get a kick outta things like the classic “Spiderman” song, or the theme song from their favorite cartoons (like Pokemon or Ben 10, both of which are surprisingly 80s rockin’…) or even a Minecraft Remix!

Whew! So that’s my list. I know there is a ton of great stuff I didn’t include—but hopefully this will get you started. Help me fill in the blanks! Leave a comment with the songs you and your kiddos like to rock out to!

PS Here’s a fun idea for a Rock-n-Roll Birthday Bash! Oh, and fun party tip. Play FREEZE DANCE with the kids. It’s a game I invented in 1985 (well, OK, I probably didn’t invent it….but back then no one in Flint, Michigan had ever heard of my fabulous creation!). ANYWAY, you play music, get every one to dance/hop/boogie, and then in the middle of the song, you hit pause (kinda like musical chairs). When the music stops everyone has to FREEZE! Until the music starts again. Kids LOVE this game and love freezing in crazy positions. Trust me on this! And then tell everyone you know the girl who invented this game waaaay back in 1985.

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11 Responses

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  1. pilgrim says

    awesome mix! i’d like to add a few of our favorites: ‘i don’t feel like dancing’ by the scissor sisters, ‘don’t stop me now’ by queen, ‘move your feet’ by junior senior and ‘love shack’ by the b52’s.. TIN ROOF…… RUSTED!

  2. Dottie says

    This is beyond well timed as I prep for the Peach’s party. Because I really don’t want to play Yo Gabba Gabba songs only. And the additions are so great and I’m sure will get everyone moving their feet!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. rimmelle says

    I have also been compiling a playlist on Spotify – including some of these recommendations
    look up JAZI ROCKS 5

  4. Chris M. says

    Thanks for the ideas. I’m making a kid friendly CD for my summer camp for work. I liked the idea of mixing decades, since surprisingly the kids like 80s music too. I don’t know if my campers are ready for The Ramones, but they love Michael Jackson as much as I did in 1982. I have 3 MJ songs on the mix. I also loved the idea of theme songs! I have Monster High, Pokémon, & Sponge Bob and other hits from TV or film that they are familiar with. THANKS!!

  5. William Roberts says

    You have some great songs on here for kids, but there are quite a few that are not appropriate.
    You Shook Me All Night Long?
    Busta Move?
    Gangnam Style?
    Com’on Eileen?


  6. SAV says

    AWESOME list.

  7. Gillian says

    You probably get told this a lot but freeze dance is just Musical Statues – in the UK its been about a lot longer than 1985 and every child has played it. But it is great so well done for reinventing it!!

  8. clementine says

    super !! and what about french dancing songs too ? here is my favourite playlist

Continuing the Discussion

  1. The Best Music for a Kids Dance Party? Heck Yeah! – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on January 15, 2013

    […] This list was compiled in 2011, but I thought it would be do a 2013 upate—click here for the same list but with some more current tunes at the end! I wanted to keep this one up because there are some […]

  2. Party Game Ideas linked to this post on January 23, 2015

    […] Bring into the room one less chair than the number of kids playing the game. Next thing to do is to play some music for them. They have to dance around the chairs until the music stops. Then each of them tries to sit on a […]

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