For those of us who are much more comfortable with DJing for clubs using contemporary songs and genres, a party centred around older guests can pose an interesting challenge. Song knowledge aside, DJing in the modern sense makes good use of beatmatching to keep floors filled with one seamless mix. However, many older songs—especially those that were never intended to be ‘dance’ songs—aren’t really designed with transitions in mind. It’s not an easy gig, but with a few wise tips from us, you’ll know exactly how to handle DJing to an older audience.
1. What to do with ‘Golden Oldies’ with Extended Intros or Outros
Fortunately, rather than just abruptly going from one song to the next like an iPod, there are a few solutions around this issue.
Firstly, many older songs actually had white label remixes with extended intros and outros. And where these don’t exist, there is usually a cache of well-made official remixes and bootleg mixes floating about on the internet for you to incorporate into your set.
Failing this, why not get into your audio editing software of choice and add an intro and outro yourself? Many DJs choose to do as little preparation as they can get away with, but if you take your job seriously, you should really go above and beyond for your clients.
Sample intros and outros from other tracks, adjusting the BPM as necessary. Alternatively, re-drum a track with Drumbot, a free website application that allows you to create a drum track to your own specifications, including the BPM and drum types. Download your result, then stretch it out for as many bars as needed. Drumbot can also be used to enhance your remixes or original tracks.
2. Additional Preparation Ideas
Aside from ensuring your tracks are primed for the party, make sure you spend a good hour or two digging through your library for candidate tracks. Plan out how you want to start the party. Perhaps have some old standards that are laid back and cruisy to start with, and then progressively turn up the heat as the guests walk in. This can be the hardest thing to get right, because, depending on the party, people may want to spend the first hour or two chatting. Playing “Ballroom Blitz” probably isn’t the best choice if your guests are sipping champagne and trying to hold down a conversation. Be vigilant of the mood, and try to read the crowd accordingly. Remember that you’re supposed to complement the atmosphere of the party, not hijack it.
3. What to do Once You’re at the Decks
Taking requests can be the bane of any DJ’s existence, but you may want to be a bit more obliging with requests when it comes to older clientele. As long as the song won’t be a complete vibe-killer, cordially tell them that you will “put it on for them soon,” and remember to smile genuinely.
Finally, you should always think at least four or five songs ahead, because there’s nothing worse than having less than a minute of the track to go without knowing what track to play next.