Rip-it Encore Band are used to BIG parties and their music is designed to get folks dancing! Read Kent’s account of the story behind their only remaining wedding booking this summer

By February 2020 Rip-it Encore had a full diary with weddings booked across France; that is until COVID hit. Like so many industries, the wedding industry in France has been badly affected and for Rip-it Encore, every single wedding that was booked for 2020 has postponed until 2021.

Did we say ‘every single’ wedding? Well… all apart from one!

A French couple booked us in 2019 for their wedding on the 8 August, in Frossay, near Nantes. The couple’s goal, like so many weddings we play at, was to get everyone on the dance floor and keep them there all night. This is what Rip-it Encore do best! After a couple of emails and a phone call or two they booked.

The Start of the Wedding Season

In March 2020 the wedding season was about to start and Rip-it Encore were waking from their winter hibernation and looking forward to the first wedding. A few corporate event bookings were starting to cancel due to the rapidly spreading of the COVID-19 virus but like so many people, (especially one fella in the US), the band thought it would blow over and disappear by May, but alas this was unfortunately not the case.

Lockdown was imposed in France, hand sanitisers were everywhere, business started closing down and forms were required just to go for a walk. All of the jobs that we’d put off previously became the things that occupied us. It felt like the season was over before we’d even started. Then the unimaginable happened. One by one our couples got in touch asking if they could reschedule and slowly but surely they all moved… until only one date remained… August 8th 2020.

Spring arrived with bees and butterflies and I found myself tackling the garden! What? Me? I didn’t know I had it in me! Playing keys is all I’ve ever really done with my fingers! After a few weeks, and some expert guidance from my darling wife, our garden took on a whole new look. I became a regular at the DIY store (considered essential here in France). Me and many of my new DIY friends we’re queuing up to buy wood, nails, screws grass seed and plants. I made new friends! We all had something in common; boredom and inspiration! A great combination if you need to get stuff done around the house!

The Best Wedding Band in France

DIY aside the band decided that this was the time to make Rip-it Encore the best band in the world… or at least in France… or at the very least to continue being the best wedding band in France. The virus will not win! We put our heads together and took a fresh look at our entire show. We only had one lonely gig left and it needed to be the best we’d ever done!

So what did we do? Well, we got a bass player for starters (at last I’ve got my two hands back), and with the help of some very nifty and sophisticated software, we also managed to get a synchronised light show going. This may not seem like a big deal to non-musicians but the difference is huge, especially when you couple those new additions with the new songs we’ve added. Guests wouldn’t be able to resist dancing! August 8th was going to be amazing! Everyone was going to be on that dance floor!

Every song now has it’s own light show, perfected bass lines, new sounds, programs and patches automatically changing when needed. In other words we are ready to Rock! It had taken us ages to perfect the act, we couldn’t meet up to rehearse together, which made the whole thing even more challenging but despite COVID we were ready!

Do People Dance to your Music?

As the 8th of August moved closer we each rehearsed daily through the new set, perfecting every song to ensure we’d be performance ready for the big day! Then the call came… No, we’re not cancelling or postponing… WORSE! Dancing was not permitted due to the close proximity of people and the easy spread of virus. The band were still booked to perform but the goal now was that the wedding guests must NOT dance. The couple still wanted energy, lights and big sound (we have 6000W available when need be) but nobody was allowed to dance! WHAT! Are you kidding!?The drive up to Nantes from the south of France was long and very hot! (hooray for air conditioning). We arrived at the wedding venue (Château de la Rousselière) at around 8 pm, grabbed a cold beer and began preparing for the next day’s installation. We found a shady spot under a massive oak tree in the extensive grounds of this amazing chateau.

After settling in we met with our lovely couple, who we’re so cool that the temperature seemed to drop a few degrees! In fact they were so chilled that we started to think that this was going to be a great wedding, dancing or no dancing.

We had on-site accommodation at the chateau which makes everything easier. If we’re on-site we’re able to assist with sound / music related issues at any time. In the hot french summer it also meant we could go shower to cool down whenever we felt the need… But the fact still remained – No dancing! Even fabulous on-site accommodation couldn’t soften that blow. This would be a first for Rip-it Encore! Are we ready for no dancing?! We wondered what we were meant to do if we did see people dancing? “Hey, you there, sit down, stop moving”?

The Chateau Wedding

Waking on the morning of the wedding felt a bit odd, a little bit deflated to be honest. For months we’d been longing to test out our new show! It’s perfect for a wedding party but not for this wedding. We had to somehow do the opposite of what we do. Tonight we have to keep people OFF the dance floor! We were feeling the pressure. People may actually dance and if that did happen the party would be shut down!

We set up under the oak tree. Wow, we sounded great! We sound-checked for the caterers and the chateau owner who were all busy preparing. The sun was rising and the cool morning air left, and the hot midday sun took over.

Guests started to arrive. They looked like a great crowd. Our kind of party goers. Although not today! We played our jazzy, bluesy, folky, poppy cocktail set and knew that these guests were the perfect guests for the perfect wedding. Even during our very chilled cocktail set we could see feet tapping and hips swaying. These guests were ready to party! If they like our cocktail set, they’re going to go wild for the party set tonight! Except did we mention… dancing was not being permitted.

Soon enough it was time to get the party going, or not! We’d enjoyed a lovely meal and shared a very nice bottle of red wine with the wedding photographer Pierre Gobled. So, à contre-cœur (French for reluctantly), we wandered up to the stage, watching the 100 or so guests being asked to take their places seated on large carpets in front of the stage.

There was room on each carpet for six or seven adults and in total there were 12 carpets, each carpet was two meters apart from the neighbouring carpet. The sight of the carpets encourage us. Could this be a hippy Woodstock moment in the making? There had been plenty of wine and maybe this night could actually turn into something magical. Relief flooded over us and Jake and Remi and myself suddenly knew that this was going to be a great gig!

We started with Ed Sheeran’s ’Shape of You’ and straight from the first note we knew this was going to work! We played on… Wonderwall by Oasis and Little Lion man by Mumford & Sons. Dancing was forbidden but bottoms were moving and feet were definitely tapping. Guests were moving. By song seven (Blue Suede Shoes) sitting was proving too difficult. “Well it’s ‘a’ one for the money, two for the show”… It was too hard! And, like a wave of a wand, everyone was standing! There was no dancing. They knew the rules too and they knew that any move that resembled a dance move could be the end of the show.

On we played… ‘Moves Like Jagger’, ‘Girls & Boys’, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. The guests were singing along with us, and those who didn’t know the words just pretended that they did. We asked if they were having a good time and the encouraging roar of appreciation meant they were! ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘I want You Back’ and the hips were definitely swaying. I’m afraid to say this but there might have been some dancing! But don’t worry! It was just arms! All of the guests remained firmly on their magic carpets and nobody fell off!

We ended our first set and placed the system into auto DJ mode and headed to the bar for a cold drink. We’d done it and wow! What a fantastic concept it turned out to be! Not dancing on your carpet!

The second set just got better! ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ by Stardust, ‘Lady’ by Modjo, ‘Are you Goona Be My Girl’ by Jet, ‘Mr Brightside’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Lonely Boy’ by The Black Keys went down a storm and guests continued to stay on their carpets and continued their hardest to not dance! Hip swaying, arm waving, crowd singing, socially distanced carpets! We had the BEST evening! There really is an alternative to not dancing at a wedding! If you don’t believe me then book Rip-it Encore for your party and find our for yourself!

p.s. thanks for reading!

Credits to :

  • Wedding Venue : Château de la Rousselière
  • Wedding Photographer : Pierre Gobled
  • Wedding Music : Rip-it Encore
  • Wedding Caterers : CK Traiteur (Vigneux-de-Bretagne)