Things I learned as a Rock DJ: Part 1


A major factor throughout my life is strangely one that I don’t write about all too often. I became a DJ at the Planet Nightclub at the grand young age of 18 and did pretty well at it. I started out doing an hour on a Thursday night and ended up working all night on my own floor for a while. I didn’t become world famous, no. But the gigs I did were good, and my dance floors were the proof. I took a break from the regular slot indefinitely in 2012, and still sometimes do the odd one off gig when I have a chance, because to be honest, when I’m not doing it, I do miss it immensely.

Not long after I started out.

Not long after I started out.

I thought I’d share my advice for the people starting out. You’ve got your music, you’ve got your night, now you need to keep the night going. DJing can be a very high pressure job. Even though, on paper, it seems a simple concept to keep music playing until closing time, in reality it is much more than that. From my personal experience, here are some things that may help you if things get a little tough.

Write your playlist down.

People don’t do this often and in my opinion, they should. When you start out as a DJ, you will not be doing your own room all night. You will probably start out with a half hour, hour set and if you’re any good, you will get more time in future, shared with other DJs, and then if you’re really good, you’ll be asked to DJ other venues as a guest, most likely as an opener at first. Writing down your playlist, especially if you play a few well known, popular songs, prevents the next two DJs and even yourself (trust me, nights can be hectic) from playing the same songs and also helps you to figure out and remember what mixes well and what should never be mixed together ever again.

'Well at least SOMEBODY liked my Wannabe-Down with the Sickness mix...

‘Well at least SOMEBODY liked my Wannabe-Down with the Sickness mix…’

Writing requests down is equally effective, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it shows you’re listening and can help with the with the why-haven’t-you-played-my-song-yet’s if you show them that their request is in a queue. Secondly, any requests that you didn’t get chance to play are now known by the next DJ – It isn’t nice to get someone screaming at you about a birthday song that was asked for 2 hours beforehand if you’ve only been on for half that time. I guess all of this is just common courtesy, but in my opinion, manners count.

It is THEIR night out.

Firstly, a lot of people who have alcohol in the ol’ system tend to become a little bit more …outspoken about pretty much everything. Particularly if the music isn’t to their taste, or if there is an issue at the bar. As someone who has somehow chosen to be on the receiving end of both of those circumstances (I’ve run a pub in the past), I know what these people are like. I also know that there are some who are deserving of treatment they get, be it a refusal to serve, play their music, or in some instances, ejection from the club. But some simple situations can be made worse by how you deal with it. You have a group who are repeatedly asking you to change the style of music you’re playing to something more to their liking. You’re trying to stick to the theme of the night. What you have to ask yourself is, how are you doing in the bigger picture? Is the rest of the club happy? Are they dancing?

"Hi! We both like coming to the same club and although we are both seen as 'rockers' we hate each other's music tastes and you have to keep us both happy!"

“Hi! We both like coming to the same club and although we are both seen as ‘rockers’ we hate each other’s music tastes and you have to keep us both happy!”

Please note that with earlier slots, a full dance floor is perhaps a little ambitious. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable until they have been in the club for a while and others won’t approach an empty dance floor, but there are other signs of them enjoying your music. If the group that are complaining are the only group that are there yet, try not to flat out tell them no. There’s always compromise. You can play their stuff until it gets a bit busier, perhaps. If you aren’t playing it because you don’t have it, be honest. Write it down. Tell them you’ll have it next week. And then get it. Some people won’t be happy with it of course, but a lot will like that you’ve put that effort in.

During the next few months I will be writing more on this, so keep an eye out!

Part 2 coming soon…

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1 Response to Things I learned as a Rock DJ: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Things I learnt as a Rock Club DJ: Part 2 | MOSH

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