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With Jason’s guidance, you’ll be feeling like this
Brooklyn Schugar

How to Make a Perfect Playlist for an NYE Party…or Any Party!

Music from one of the coolest bars in NYC to help you ring in the new year right

Jason Scott is co-owner of Danger Danger in Brooklyn.

December 27, 2023 3:10 pm

Jason Scott is co-owner of Danger Danger in Brooklyn (a nightspot that is Awesome Awesome). So Jason knows a thing or two about putting a playlist together. Here, he walks us through how he programs for a party, with some specific recommendations. -NPH

Somehow, after swearing you wouldn’t throw a NYE party this year, it’s a few days to go and your significant other or friend group has tricked you into organizing a last-minute gathering, and you’ve got a million things to plan: food, booze, ice, guest list, invitations, decorations, etc. etc. Plus, your DJ friend who can normally throw you a few stylish and effortlessly cool playlists is stuck in a cell-phone-less retreat in Tulum, so you’ve gotta do it yourself, and you don’t have much time. Don’t panic, you’ve got this.

Pick a genre or era, and stick with it. Too much chopping and changing of styles can make a party vibe feel disjointed. An absolute slam dunk is the ‘80s: there’s plenty of nostalgia for the older guests, and most of the youngsters won’t have heard these songs many times, if ever. ‘80s pop especially seems to always sound fresh to everyone. It’s such a guilty pleasure, and isn’t that part of NYE nights? But any classic time period works, and you know your guests better than anyone. ‘90s hip-hop, ‘70s California dad rock, 2000s electro-pop — plenty of options for the night, and the discovery function of most streaming services is amazing at unearthing rare gems and reminding you of forgotten anthems.

To aid in keeping the vibe on track and adjustable, create three distinct playlists, with no duplicate songs.

Collage of men in a bar and a bartender making a cocktail
Danger Danger co-owner and nightlife maestro Jason Scott (dude in the glasses) shares a New Year’s Eve playlist!
Brooklyn Schugar

Arrival: As guests settle in

This is when you want the sound uptempo, promising future fun later, but restrained enough to be curious where the night is headed. No maudlin ballads here, keep it light and fun, encouraging toe-tapping and head-nodding, but low enough volume for guests to mingle and get to know one another. Strong vocal tracks can tend to overwhelm people at this stage of the night. They should really only happen once it’s past midnight and everyone is a bottle of bubbles deep.


Primetime: The main event

This is the meat of the party. People are tipsy, starting to move around, alliances are formed and whispered conspiratorial plans are being developed for later. You want the playlist to be hovering on the edge of a dancing vibe. The confident guests have already started, but really only for a few songs. The longer you can teasingly hold it here, the better the night will be, and the more the dancefloor will erupt once you go to the next playlist. If you can last until midnight, then you are welcome to call yourself a tantric DJ. Only to yourself though. Don’t say that out loud. Might seem weird.


Crowd of people dancing at the bar
Bring the party home with this playlist (but also pay Danger Danger a visit, too)
Brooklyn Schugar

Dancefloor: Whether you actually have a dancefloor or not!

This one is easy. All the hits, all the faves, sing-alongs, simple baseline bangers. They will all work, as long as you kept the previous playlist going long enough. Deployed too early, you can kill a party vibe. This is when you need to monitor things. If you went too early, segue back to the Primetime playlist, and let things percolate a bit longer. You’ll feel the right vibe when it happens.


Now that you have set your three tempos, you can consider the suggested tracks from your streaming service and drag and drop songs to the appropriate playlist. Dedicate a few hours, but you can easily do this while doing kitchen prep, running errands to pick up party supplies, or stuffing envelopes. It won’t be too long before you have three to four hours in each playlist, and then you can rest easy on the night, only needing to bring the level up, or down, and mingle with guests knowing “Like a Prayer” won’t be tragically wasted on the awkward 7 p.m. cocktail hour.

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