How To DJ Any Party
DJing comes in many forms, but the core service of it is entertaining a crowd of any size. We’ve all DJed in our cars or maybe for a small group of friends. The term “let me get aux” became so common because many people felt the confidence of taking charge of the music. But what makes a good DJ? Is it the technical skills? The cool mixing tricks? Or maybe, the clothes you wear? None of the above: we’ll go over the fundamentals of being a good DJ.
First Thing’s First
DJing is an art. The skill of reading and entertaining a crowd doesn’t come without gaining experience and failing. The first thing to keep in mind is you must gain experience for your performance to stand out. How so? DJing with a group of friends at any occasion will do the trick. I started out DJing for small parties and quickly learned the dos and don’ts of playing music. Don’t be discouraged if the crowd isn’t liking your music or feeling your vibe; the important thing is to gain the knowledge of how to get the crowd lost in a trance.
Don’t Need to be Technical
Sure, the technical skills will only help improve your mixes and switch-ups; but they aren’t needed to learn the core values of entertaining a crowd. Nowadays, I can DJ off of Spotify without mixing in songs. I focus on song choices and timing, based on the vibe of the crowd. A lot of DJs are against dropping in songs without mixing (or matching BPM (beats per minute)), but that is a myth. I’ve DJed for large crowds using only a laptop and aux cord!
Know Your Audience
It’s vital to assess who the crowd is made out of: age, gender, ethnicity, professions, and if they’re all connected or strangers. Knowing your audience will help you choose which genres and decades to play.
Example: if the crowd consists of mostly people in their 50s, that means they were born in the 1970s. You can now assume that as teenagers and in their 20s, they listened to the new music coming out in the 80s and 90s. Now you have a sense of what their taste will be: some 70s, mostly 80s pop and 90s hip hop. To know which genres they prefer, you must gain the knowledge of music during that era AND talk to people about it. The internet will help a lot, but you’ll be surprised how many top charting hits people don’t want to hear anymore. This is where experience comes in! Familiarize yourself with all the songs you need to know.
Keep in mind that just because they’re from a certain era, doesn’t mean that they’ve completely shut themselves out of the new stuff. A neat trick is to play the top songs of the decades, with an emphasis on their preferred decades.
Before playing your hits, you must warm the crowd up. Almost every event starts with a “cocktail hour”. Your audience will want to mingle, eat/drink. They don’t want silence, and they don’t want slow music. They want upbeat music that doesn’t take the attention away from their conversations. The best thing to do here is play B-list songs, or mixes you find online. You can YouTube “DJ opening set” and find plenty of mixes ready to go.
Warming up the crowd is vital. What you’re doing is setting the tone (upbeat and happy) while staying away from distracting them .You may get a couple people asking you to get the party started, but stick to your plan (unless it’s a client asking). Warming up also helps you save your best songs for last, not wasting your ammo!
Play Songs People Know
This is by far the most important tip of DJing. My first gigs were awful, but not because of my taste of music. I played great songs, but no one knew them. You’re not there to promote new songs or teach people anything: you’re there to entertain the crowd. At a party, people want to let loose and celebrate. You must play songs that the crowd knows. What you’re doing is allowing your audience to focus on dancing and enjoying their time, and not focus on digesting new music. They want to dance to a rhythm they’re familiar with and sing along with their friends. Help them have a great time!
Get Ready for a Long Ride
Once you get the party started, you’ve committed yourself to leading the crowd. Be prepared for a few hours of hard work. The last thing you want to do is kill the party because you’re tired, no one will trust you playing music again! And sure, people will come and try to take your place. Hold tight and be well prepared. First, be well fed and energized; the crowd wants to feel your energy. At the same time, you want to feel the crowd’s energy. Is everyone drinking? Have a drink or two (don’t get drunk!!!). Is the crowd bloated from a huge buffet? Eat! You want to level with the crowd so you can lead them to a fun time.
DJing also consists of staying in one spot for a long time, for a few reasons. 1) If you have professional equipment, you can’t move them around. 2) You must maintain one view of the crowd to find changes of patterns. 3) The crowd should know where the source of the music is in case they have questions or want to get your details!
Another tip is to have access to whatever you may need through a friend or proximity. For example, if you need a drink, you don’t want to leave your station; have a friend grab you a drink or be in close proximity from the bar.
Make multiple playlists of different genres. Use them when DJing but also listen to them in your free time to familiarize yourself with the tone and energy of each song.
Get comfortable with MCing. This is a hard skill to learn. You don’t want to overpower a song with your voice, but MCing is always great for leading the crowd.
Study other DJs. When you go to a party with a DJ, listen to what they play and when. Read the crowd’s reaction and learn the tricks! Every DJ has their own style, so keep an open mind. Also, alcohol changes everything. If the crowd is drunk, study how they react to songs verses not drunk.
Learn the difference between sing-a-longs and dance music, and when to play them.
Practice Practice Practice! Get out there and volunteer to DJ for any sized crowd.. Learn more and more until you’re comfortable enough to charge for your service.
Learning how to DJ isn’t all that hard, it just takes practice and experience. Reading a crowd and playing songs they know is vital to being a great entertainer. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but never make them again.
If you have more questions about DJing, email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to answer!