Sweaty Teddy

For this maestro, the weddings go on forever and the receptions never change

"If she's fourteen and he's 23, we're not going to do that -- that's kind of disgusting," Ted says. "But if it's two adults and they can take it, you might say, 'Hey, Tom, if it's five years of wedded bliss for Tim and Jill for every inch you go above Antoinette's knee, let's give them a lifetime together.' You make a little joke like that, but you always clear that ahead of time. Some people don't find that funny."

With the photo ops out of the way, Ted shifts into dance mode. First he plays a slow one -- "Misty" by Johnny Mathis. Then he stokes up the crowd up by going country a bit with "Cotton-Eyed Joe" and the sing-along "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams Jr.

Paul Simon's "Cecilia" is next, followed by five slow songs for the dollar-dance segment. The pace picks up with "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "Love Shack" by the B-52s, "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves and "My Prerogative" by Bobby Brown. A conga line twists in and out of the hall during Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot."

During a string of songs from Grease -- Ted doesn't like to play the medley -- he does a brief voice-over on "Summer Nights." When Travolta sings of Olivia Newton-John, "I told her we'd still be friends," Ted interjects: "Yeah, right. The check's in the mail."

Ted gets out to dance numerous times, once locking arms with the bride and doing a brief chorus-line kick during "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. He joins the crowd and lip-syncs to Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me." Ted punctuates the "bang-bang" line from "Love Shack," pantomiming guns with both hands. During "Oh What a Night" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, he pretends to be playing the trombone during the part in the song with horns. More than once, those dancing next to him roll their eyes ceilingward at Ted's antics.

He can be a bit much.

But Ted is a reflection, an exaggerated reflection, of the party-hearty friends of the bride and groom who make it onto the dance floor, especially for the last hour or so. He's one of them, only more so. He dances, he lip-syncs along with the song, he makes charadelike gestures acting out the lyrics in a cartoonish way -- but so do they, only less so. His obnoxiousness allows them to be a little more them than they usually are.

Ted says his pacing of the music usually consists of "four or five fast ones of any type, country, hip-hop or rock & roll," followed by two or three slow numbers. That varies if the crowd looks as if it's getting tired.

Tim's impersonation of Travolta goes off without a hitch. The crowd encircles him, clapping in time. He struts the length of the dance floor once, aping every hand and hip gesture made by Travolta in the movie. During his second turn on the floor, Jill joins him, shadowing his routine.

It brings down the house, or at least the part of the house that made it to the dance floor.

The music is scheduled to stop at 11:30 p.m. The tidy version of Eminem's "Without Me" clocks in at 10:56 p.m. The mirror ball is whirling, the siren lights are twirling and the bride is happy.

When Ted follows Eminem with Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair," Jill turns to Ted and blurts, "Oh, good song." Ted smiles. The bride is happy, and the countdown is less than 30 minutes.

"Is it just me?" Ted asks the dancers before the next song, "or is it 'Hot in Herre'?" Squeals erupt on the dance floor. Nelly rules in Nellyville.

Pink is next; then the matron of honor, Lynette Boland, requests "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. In a special moment that is, well, unexpected, Boland brings a chair out to the dance floor, stands on it and sings the lyrics to her husband, pointing to him as she sings: "You ... shook me all night long."

The crunch at the end of the night requires Ted to consult with Jill because there isn't time for the two songs requested from the film Moulin Rouge. There's time for "Your Song" but not "Lady Marmalade."

The dancers want to stay longer, but halls are pretty strict about quitting time. As Ted lines up the last song, the hired help bus the tables and carry their loads back to the kitchen, shaking their heads as they see all the spilled drinks on the dance floor. They want to go home.

The compromise choice for the final song? "Last Dance," by Donna Summer.

Whoa-oh
I need you by me
Beside me
To guide me
To hold me
To scold me
'Cause when I'm bad
I'm so, so bad


When the music's over and the bar closes, people exit a wedding reception as if somebody has yelled, "Fire!"

On this night, as is sometimes the case, the bride and groom are two of the stragglers. Tim explains the origin of his homage to John Travolta. "I've been doing that dance since I was a freshman in high school, fourteen years ago," he says as he hangs with a few remaining relatives and friends. "I can't escape it. When it comes on, people know -- they expect it."

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