My rules for DJing are pretty simple, and I’ve written about them many times before:
- Make it easy for everyone to have fun.
- What you play is not as important as the combinations you play them in.
- These combinations are dictated by the crowd’s feels, not how you feel in your pants.
But how does that work? If any of the following phrases don’t make any sense to you, have a read of this post How I think About DJing afterwards.
You don’t need fancy technology, and there’s no substitute for listening to your music and getting to know it well.
I DJ using itunes on a mac + cog and an external soundcard for previewing.
I always choose songs on the fly.
Work a tempo wave, and work an energy wave.
It’s ok to play favourites.
Play solid, swinging jazz from the 30s and 40s, and A bit from the 50s.
If you fuck up (clear the floor), follow up with an apology song (i have a list of tried and true favourites).
If you don’t social dance a lot, you’ll be a rubbish dancer.
Only play songs you love.
Only play jazz. If you don’t love swinging jazz, don’t DJ
Watch the dancers. Stop looking at your computer. Watch the dancers. Learn to read how they feel from how they dance. Don’t leave the booth while DJing (because you can’t watch the dancers). Watch the dancers. Learn their feels.
And most importantly, be a pro. Be on time, bring all your gear, be helpful, accommodating, and polite, and ask the organiser what they want.
Know how to play a birthday jam, learn to use the mic, and buy everything Basie up til 1955.