10 Tips to Be A Great DJ at a Party


DJing parties can be great fun as sometimes they can be small and intimate or large and loud. To DJ a party you need to know a few things to make sure the party is a success.

  1. Ask for Music Genres and Ideas Before the Party
  2. Be Open Minded
  3. Create a Large Collection of Music (To Take Requests)
  4. Setup to Protect Your DJ Gear
  5. Interact with The Party Goers
  6. Manage Music Intensity Throughout The Party
  7. No Ego! DJ for The People
  8. Record the DJ Set
  9. Get Your Equipment Setup Before the Party
  10. Checklist of Equipment

I’ve put together the top 10 tips for being a great DJ at a party from my experience so I hope you guys can learn from.

Ask for Music Genres and Ideas Before the Party

If it’s a party for a friend or you’ve been hired for a specific party, then great. Either way it’s a great shout to ask the organiser what the purpose or the atmosphere is trying to be created?

For example, are you trying to get people to dance or are you looking for people to enjoy socialising and enjoy background music. Creating a vibe and atmosphere is just as important as getting people to dance sometimes.

Whether it be House, Garage, Hip Hop, Soul, Pop or Techno, get the person who is setting up the party to be super specific. Get them to give examples too so that you can nail down the vibe.

The party organiser might want more vocals focused music for the crowd to sing along with or more of chilled vibe with instrumental music.

Knowing the amount of time that you have to DJ is important because if the organiser is giving you more than 60 minutes then it’s possible you’ve got the chance to play multiple genres. Then you need to think about how to manage the vibe and intensity throughout the time you’re DJing.

Be Open Minded

You can plan all you want, but in reality this doesn’t always pan out how you planned.

You may have loads of requests or you might have minimal requests. Just be open minded to play music that you’re not used to DJing and respect the crowds wishes and the organisers wishes.

At the end of the day, you are there to provide music for the people to enjoy, dance and socialise.

Making people smile, dance and have a great time is the goal that you should always be focused on, for all your DJ gigs.

Create a Large Collection of Music (To Take Requests)

Once you’ve got more details on the genre and vibe of the party then you can start curating some of you music into playlists in preparation.

Make sure you have enough music though. Being a DJ at a party, whatever party it is… be ready for requests!

If you’re DJing long enough there’s always people that will come up to you asking for you to play a specific tune. That’s why it’s so important to pre-empt that by asking what the genre and vibe of the music is in the first instance.

Build up a big list of music to accommodate the party, it’s always good to have a big list of music so that you don’t feel under pressure or compromise the party.

Getting hold of DJ music is easy and there are different platforms, check out my articles on how to discover music and where to get DJ music from.

Setup to Protect Your DJ Gear

Plan and ask the organiser of the party where you’re going to be setting up. This will be a key aspect in you protecting your DJ gear and more importantly taking the pressure off you to focus on DJing and not worrying about your DJ gear.

Protect from poor weather

DJing a small or large party? Indoor or outside? These are different situations to consider.

For example, DJing outside at a small gather or larger outdoor party you will need to prepare for the unexpected weather changes. Getting a rain cover or gazebo in place to protect yourself and the DJ gear can really help you out. If you’re in a tent then great!

Stable table for your setup

Make sure you’ve got a solid table that you can put your DJ equipment on, especially if you’ve got an expensive setup including laptop, DJ controller or CDJs, plus speakers. That’s some expensive and valuable DJ gear.

Drunk guests can sometimes get in the way of your DJ setup by being a potential hazard. Split drinks is not an uncommon issue at parties, so making sure you’ve got enough space surrounding your setup is key too.

Why is this important?

If anything goes wrong, then the party is over. That’s not a great DJ is it?

Protecting your DJ gear by forward thinking and planning can help you setup in a way that you’re not going to be negatively impacted by poor weather or drunk guests are being rowdy near you.

Interact with The Party Goers

Microphone

Bring a microphone and make sure you get some interaction going with the audience. If it’s someones birthday or different type of celebration get the shout outs to people.

Remember a party is all about the audience having fun, so making them feel special is a great way to do this by giving them a shout out.

Sing-a-long Songs

Playing songs that have great song lyrics that everyone remembers is another great way to interact with the crowd. Entice the audience to sing a long to the music, you can do this by getting them going with the microphone.

Or you can simply use the mixer with a Low Pass Filter sporadically throughout the song so that the crowd can hear themselves singing. This technique allows for a sense of

Manage Music Intensity Throughout The Party

Age of Audience

Be aware of the age of people at the party. You can easily play a great set that’s pumping with energy and a few chilled music tracks in there for good measure. However, you may find that the audience may be loving the music might not be able to keep up with the dancing all night.

Don’t be offended if people are not dancing, it might simply be that they are loving the music so much that they are tired.

Journey of Intensity

The journey of intensity is really important.

At the beginning of the night people might still be mingling and enjoying the socialising aspect of the party that they are attending. Let them do this! Play easy tracks that a light, throw in a few tracks that are recognised such as songs with lyrics that everyone knows. Or put in a few funky tracks that everyone can groove to on the dance floor as a little taster for later on at the party.

People love lyrical songs that they know, less so much songs with lyrics they don’t know. You can play this to your advantage and to the benefit of the audience. When you know it’s time to start ramping up the killer tracks that will get the crowd dancing and singing, start playing those.

Once you want to give the crowd a bit of a break from the intensity of dancing, maybe give them a rest by using filler tracks such as instrumentals with no lyrics.

As a DJ you can cycle this in waves of intensity throughout the night. You can plan these cycles of music tracks in preparation of the event you are playing. I plan 3 to 5 tracks in a cycle that I know work together, and I know when to activate those tracks. Always remember that you still need to read the crowd and the energy they require, or lack of it.

No Ego! DJ for The People

Remember if you start playing music that you just want to hear you might end up having a dance floor that’s empty. There’s a time and a place to DJ all the music that you love so keep it there.

Being a DJ is not all about you, sure you might be a technically sound DJ with some amazing skills at beat matching, using effects and looping etc. But it’s about the crowd having fun.

I always ask myself is the crowd enjoying the atmosphere? Are they enjoying the music by dancing?

Record the DJ Set

If you’re using Rekordbox for example, why not record your DJ set? It is easy!

Using an external device can also help you record your DJ sets from the mixer easily, check out my article on how to record your DJ sets for more advice. I talk about using external devices for recording your DJ set here too.

It’s a great thing to do to record your DJ sets. Not only can you as a DJ listen back and critique you DJ sets to learn and become a better DJ, but you can share DJ sets afterwards.

Sharing with the people that attended the party can listen back to the DJ sets and re-live the moments. Especially if you’ve been talking on the microphone, it’s a really good way for people to share a memory.

Get Your Equipment Setup Before the Party

I’d recommend getting your DJ equipment set up before the party you are DJing sorted beforehand. Otherwise you will turn up to a party full of people that are trying to have a good time with you hauling loads of DJ equipment through the crowd.

The other way to get around this is by cornering off the DJ booth or area in which you are DJing by putting up screens.

This helps by the audience and party goers not seeing you get setup. This helps with the element of surprise and provide a more professional feel to the event that you’re DJing.

Checklist of Equipment

Depending on the type of party that you’re DJing you will need to bring different equipment. House parties might not have everything, such as speakers, so you might need to bring those speakers with you.

When I DJ small parties and house parties I usually have to bring:

  • DJ Controller
  • Speakers
  • Cables
  • Headphones
  • Microphones
  • Extension power leads

Make a checklist of all the equipment that you need, check it off the list before you arrive at the party and get setup.

Please do make sure you do the same process for leaving the party. Check mark everything before you pack up and leave. I know countless DJs that have left their headphones, specific bit of equipment, especially adaptors etc.

Related Questions

What makes a good DJ?

A DJ that can create an atmosphere for their audience to dance and enjoy the music is key. The ability to control the intensity throughout their DJ set is invaluable to successfully not tiring out their audience.

How should a DJ dress?

A DJ should dress for the occasion. Depending on the situation in which a DJ is DJing such as a wedding, private party or festival can be very different. For example if a private party is a beach themed Ibiza party they bright colours and a funky shirt may be appropriate.

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