Tag Archives: kids dance party

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.

Griffin’s Rock-n-Roll San Francisco Birthday

“Soooooo, I think we’re going to have Griffin’s birthday party in a bar. Is that weird??”

That’s how the conversation began. To be clear, the “bar” was actually a venue called Thee Parkside. It is sort of a bar/pub with a great outdoor patio area — not some dark, grotty hole-in-the-wall. I’ve been to many a rock show there and in the day time it has a very different vibe. So when my friend Toria asked me if I thought it was weird to have her son Griffin’s 5th birthday party there, I had to pause….it was definitely unconventional! But it was also kind of genius. Allow me to explain.

In this day in age the birthday party has evolved a bit. When I was younger it was more of a drop off scenario. Parents rarely hung around and your younger brother or sister wouldn’t even DREAM of crashing. Nowadays parents actually like to socialize with one another and it seems more often than not little siblings show up too. As my friend planned the party, she knew she wanted to do something fun/different and appealing to both parents and children. Griffin loves music so the idea of a rock-n-roll bash seemed just the ticket. I’ll be the first to admit that having a children’s party in a pub is very “San Francisco.” We don’t have the luxury of large backyards, so parties call for creative measures. Let me assure you that Toria executed it brilliantly! The place was shut down for the party (so no errant riff raff was wandering around) and the staff was extremely enthusiastic about the event and ensured it was utterly kiddo-appropriate. There were so many fun details I thought you guys would like to see how this Indie Birthday Party all came together.

1. Embrace Your Inner Rock Star!

The party began with a special table where all the kiddo’s could apply fun temporary tattoos and paint their faces. Lots of glittery stars, butterflies and lightning bolts made an appearance! You could take it even further and add costumes or wigs to the mix. I love the colorful signs Toria printed up for the various “stations”.

2. Encourage the Kids to Rock Out!

A collection of inflatable guitars, banjos and other instruments were available for all the kids. This was AWESOME. They loooooved it!

Super cutie birthday boy Griffin with his groovy clarinet. [You’ll notice he and Wolfie both have the same crazy curls!]

Toria cleverly had paint pens so kiddos could write their name on “their” instrument.

More of a lead singer? We’ve got you covered!

Wolfie ready to rock the mic……

3. Live Music Rules!

Griffin’s dad is a musician so he and some friends got together and formed an impromptu band that played loads of kid-friendly tunes—from They Might Be Giants and the The Beatles to fun standards. All the kiddos were invited on stage to “jam” with the band. Griffin took center stage and led the kid’s in a fantastic round of air guitar. It was SUPER cute! There were also tambourines and those percussion drum box thingies for the kids to bang on as well.

Little Santiago with the “keyboard” killed me….

Wolfie and Greg taking a breather….hey, it’s hard work rockin’ out!

4. Dance, Dance, Dance!

If a live band isn’t possible, then go with a DJ! Once again Toria had a fantastic idea. She emailed parents and asked them to send her a song or two that their child really loved. After the band played she had a friend DJ. The guy would announce each song with, “This one goes out to WOLFIE!” You can only imagine the grins on all the kiddo’s faces, “Mama I love this song!! How did he know???”

5. Nom.

Rockin’ out makes you hungry, so food is a must! Toria had tasty burgers and tater tots for everyone and can I just say these were the crispiest most deeeelicious tots EVER?? There was also a table of kid-friendly healthy snacks like apples, carrot sticks, cheese and crackers.

In the end, a really fun time was had by all. The parents felt like they had a little afternoon out (yes, the bar was serving drinks) and the kiddos REALLY had a blast.

Just goes to show ya that with a little creative thinking, kid’s and parents can both have a harmonious time at a birthday party!

I hope you got some fun tips for throwing your own rockin’ birthday bash! You could easily do this kind of a party at your house (especially if you have a big back yard!). If you live in a city like we do, and back yard space is not as readily available, consider holding it at a park or community center. Or go big and find a family-friendly pub like Toria did!

By the way, Toria has an awesome blog called “Tiny Reads” which is all about cool kid’s books. You should check it out for sure!

Later this afternoon I’m going to have a list of my Top Tunes for the Most Rockin’ Kiddo Dance Party! So c’mon back.