Once you feel you have mastered how to beat match and you begin to start working on polishing your mixes, one of the things you are going to need to start feeling more confident is knowing exactly which tracks to play when.
The best way to know which tracks to play when is by gaining as much experience as possible. Before you launch yourself into playing your first DJ Club gig it’s always a good idea to cut your teeth playing house parties, smaller bars and in front of as many friends as possible.
This way you will be exposed to playing in front of a wide variety of people that will throw you all sorts challenges whilst trying to keep them all entertained.
In the house party/birthday party situations mentioned above it isn’t going to be easy keeping everyone happy, in fact it would be bordering on impossible.
For example if you get the chance to play at a friend’s birthday party, although your friend may love what you do and the music you play all of his/her acquaintances that are invited may not.
You see when playing at birthday parties the people are there predominantly to celebrate the birthday not necessarily to watch you DJ, where as if you were to play in a club environment usually yourself and the other DJ’s that are playing on the night would be promoted before the event so essentially the people turning up to the club would have a fair idea of what they are in for.
So from putting yourself out there playing friends parties you will gain valuable experience as you try to keep a wide variety of people on the dance floor entertained. From gaining this experience if you start losing the dance floor at your first club gig you will know what to do to get back on track!
As a very general rule of thumb below is a few starting pointers:
Opening DJ/Warm up DJ Sets:
If you are booked to play an opening or warm up set, the idea is to play warm up tracks, you don’t want to be trying to steal the thunder by playing the biggest tracks of the moment – that is not your job its the job of the DJ you are warming up for. Trying to steal the thunder is the quickest way not to be invited to play again.
Anthony Pappa On Warm Up Sets !
“Warming up is the most important role of the night; But I reckon clubs should have speed limits! No going over 125 bpm before midnight. If you do, you’re off, and we’ll suspend your pay for two weeks.
Middle of the Night DJ Sets:
If you are playing in the middle of the night this is when you get your chance to shine and drop some of the biggest tracks of the moment – having said that though you don’t want to go from one big track to another you need to take the dance floor on a journey, build them up to your biggest track so when you get them there it brings the house down.
Early Morning DJ Sets:
If you are playing an early morning or a closing set it is crucial that you are reading the dance floor. The club no doubt would be starting to thin out so it’s your job to keep them there as long as possible. You may need to play something a little more uplifting opposed to banging as dancers who have been rocking all night may need a breather!
All in all, no matter the time or place you play the idea is take the dance floor on a calculated journey – you need to stay in control continually monitoring the response on the dance floor.
You need to know when you have made a mistake and learn from it. If you play a tune that isn’t working you don’t want to panic, you want to think about why it isn’t working and prepare to make your next move – remember with the right skill set you should be able to mix out of the tune that’s not working quickly and get back on track. The more experience and opportunities that you get the better you will become at reading a crowd.
Fatboy Slim Quote:
“A good DJ is always looking at the crowd, seeing what they’re like, seeing whether it’s working; communicating with them. Smiling at them. And a bad DJ is always looking down at what they’re doing all the time and just doing their thing that they practiced in their bedroom...”
You don’t always want to be playing it safe, you want to try and be one step ahead and take some calculated risks – this way you can begin to stand out from the crowd. Not all risks will pay off, having said that, if you learn from the ones that don’t it will help you work out what risks to take that will !