'80s Soul Train Theme Party Ideas

The Soul Train dancers were professionals, but you can replicate their moves.
... James Carman/Blend Images/Getty Images

The bumping rhythm of soul music has been bringing people to the dance floor since 1971, when the greatest artists in African-American music first appeared on the television show, "Soul Train." A 1980s Soul Train party allows you to showcase an entire decade of music, fashion and dance styles. And when the night is over, everyone can raise a glass while a video plays, with Don Cornelius, the show's creator, ending the party with his famous closing words, "Love, Peace and Soul."

1 Soul Train in the 1980s

The invitation might include "Soul Train" and a disco ball behind silhouettes of dancers printed on the cover. Add the details of the party inside, including the 1980s theme and the recommended attire of bell bottoms, platform shoes, big hair and other 1980s fashion staples. If you hire a DJ, band or vocalist to play or sing the hits of the era, add their names to the invitation so your guests know that you have a real Soul Train party going on. Don't forget to include the date, time, location and RSVP.

2 Music Sets the Theme

Beginning with the very first show in 1971, which featured Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites and the Emotions, "Soul Train" featured the latest hits in African-American music. During the 1980s, the music scene evolved from rhythm and blues to disco to funk to hip-hop and the beginnings of modern rap music. Prepare your party playlist with the best of 1980s Soul Train music in mind, with a selection of artists, including the Commodores, Grandmaster Flash, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Rick James, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Teena Marie, Billy Ocean, Prince, Smokey Robinson, Donna Summer, the Sugar Hill Gang and Barry White.

3 Set the Stage

Decorate your party room as a Soul Train set. Cut out a pair of arched train tracks and attach them to the far wall. Place large letters spelling out "Soul Train" over the tracks and outline them with rope lights or twinkle lights. Place a stage for your DJ or performers to the left, while a dance floor fills the center and right-hand side of the room, allowing plenty of room for dancing. Two disco balls flash sparkling lights around the room. Add chairs and benches to the sitting areas flanking the entry, so when your guests enter, their first sight is the Soul Train logo on the wall.

4 Soul Train Essentials

Every show featured the Soul Train Scramble Board, when a couple unscrambled the letters to solve the puzzle. The answer was often an artist's or group's name, or the name of a hit song. A large board and magnetic letters allow you to recreate the Scramble Board. Another staple was the Soul Train Line, when the dancers lined up, men on one side and women on the other, then danced their way down the line, using a variety of dance steps. A camera set up to capture your friends' dancing adds to the Soul Train ambiance.

5 A Soulful Buffet

While the television show didn't feature food, no party is complete without a buffet. Chafing dishes filled with hot foods, such as chicken drumettes or wings, meatballs, hot links, ribs, and macaroni and cheese, provide a satisfying spread for hungry dancers. Salads, breads, fresh fruit, a cake and several pies complete the buffet. Add a variety of beverages, including water, non-alcoholic punch and sodas, to keep everyone hydrated.

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.