Learning how to read the dance floor when DJing isn't something that can't be taught, learning how to read a dance floor comes from experience.
When starting out it’s a matter of trying different things and making a mental note of how it’s affecting the dance floor. It almost becomes a process of elimination where you begin to make educated decisions based on the mental notes you have made on various things you have tried.
There is no tried and true way on keeping a dance floor entertained. All DJ’s have different ideas on what works for them, that’s why gaining as much experience as possible is so important.
The best way to gain experience is by never passing up an opportunity to play, you should never think that you are beyond any DJ gig or a gig is beyond you, especially when starting out. You may think that a certain gig isn’t going to be worth your time but I can tell you from my own experience that those gigs are exactly the ones you should be taking on. The smaller house party/bar type gigs are the ones that are going to throw you up the most challenges and where you will gain the invaluable experience you need to become a quality DJ.
When you choose to put a tune on you should be putting it on for a calculated reason, you should know exactly what that tune is meant to achieve with the dance floor. You should never put a tune on with the reasoning – I like it, or its one of my favourite tunes.
If you put tracks on with a calculated motive then you will be able to take mental notes on how the dance floor has responded – the more mental notes you make through experience the easier and more instinctive it will become.
Reading the crowd can be as simple as trying something new if the dance floor isn’t responding how you would like. It is very common with inexperienced DJ’s to keep moving down the same path even if the dance floor is not responding how they should.
This could be due to ignorance, inexperience and a general lack of knowledge on how to manipulate a dance. It also suggest that the DJ isn’t prepared for all situations and turned up without a plan B. Professional DJ’s always have a plan B, professional DJ’s thrive on the variety of challenges thrown up by dance floors, the bigger the challenge the bigger the thrill!
Taking a dance floor on your own personal journey through music and by manipulating the mood through calculated moves is what becoming a DJ is all about. Learning how to DJ is so much more than just learning how to beatmatch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
An amateur practices until they get it right
A professional practices until they can’t get it wrong
If you are serious about wanting to learn how to read a dance floor then you need to put as much time as possible into learning the fundamentals. You need to feel complete confidence with your mixing ability so that you can concentrate on the progression and evolution of your set opposed to being immersed in a panic over drifting mixes.