“Last night, the deejay saved my life.”
If only I could proclaim that every weekend night that I get to make it out and attempt to boogie.
Hello DJ aka the person who has the power to make or break my night,
I’d like to plead with you here for a moment. Nowhere is the saying “good help is hard to find” more applicable than in your industry. I’m someone who appreciates good music when I’m on the dancefloor. And when I’m talking about “good” music, I’m talking about great beats. That’s all that matters when folks are trying to boogie. I don’t care whose singing the song – I just care that the rhythms lift my mood and inspire me break it down.
There is certainly an art to moving the crowd and although all of you have gotten into the game to do just exactly that, some of you are failing miserably. How, you ask? Well, let’s not state the obvious. Some of you just can’t pick songs.
You can already tell by now that I’m serious about my dance night outs, so I’ve whittled down the number of places that I can go to in New York city to a few. When I moved to the city, I tried many places and was astounded at how many bad DJs there were plaguing the streets. Is it so difficult? In such a competitive field and in such a competitive city, you’d think it would be rare to stumble into a venue where you’d hear a bad mix. But nope. Not the case. I realized that the people who are employing you (random bar owners for the most part) don’t know much themselves. In any case, let me set out some guidelines that can possibly guide you in handling your critical job better:
1. Never play a song from beginning to end. Talk about buzzkill. We dancers and drinkers have temporary ADD when we’re out on a Saturday night, and it’s up to you to keep up entranced by great beats. If we wanted to hear a full-length song, wouldn’t we stay at home and play our albums? Learn how to cut a song and mix it in with the next song. There’s nothing like the excitement of hearing a beat laced in with a song, hinting at the next great song that’s about to drop.
2. Keep up the tempo. Listen deejays- you can’t go from Biggie Smalls’ “Big Poppa” to Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved?” unless you’re trying to tell everyone that the club is about to shut down. You can see that this transition doesn’t work by looking at the crowd. Are they walking off the floor?
3. Speaking of which, pay attention to the crowd. I’m not saying you have to take every request but you should be able to read your audience’s reaction to the music you’re playing. If folks are walking off the dance floor in droves or you’re failing to get anyone moving, you need to obviously pick up the pace a bit.
4. Get Creative. You’re a DJ after all. You don’t have to always resort to playing the top 40 songs or the most cliche old school songs to be a crowd pleaser. Start studying what combinations and what selections are often overlooked but are also hot. I would appreciate an old skool routine that didn’t include “They Reminisce Over You” once in a while.
5. Stop With The Generic Mix of Reggae. Did you guys all get together and decide that you’d play the same 5 reggae songs for your brief little reggae mix? I mean, really. It’s crazy. Every night out to a hip hop club, without fail, I hear the following same songs: Action, Heads High, Ting-a-Ling, etc.
So this is all I’m saying, if I haven’t been clear thus far: you guys are important to the sanity of us folks who have been grinding hard all week and ready to release all the tensions of the world on the dancefloor. We come to you for soul nourishment. All we ask is that you take your job seriously, and recognize it for the empowering force that it is.
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