Whenever you book an event, you have to jot down its demographics so that you can choose something from your prepared DJ playlists that fits the occasion. Design your event form so that it lists the type of event for example, wedding versus corporate fund raiser versus “holiday party” the dominant age group expected, other ages expected, and the mix of males and females.
You also want your contact’s recommendations for dominant music genres pop, rock, hip hop, RnB, house, easy listening, and so forth. Keep in mind that at most events, you have a variety of people, and that means you’ll need a variety of genres. Your DJ playlists should include all genres, with the titles handy for mixing up.
When you begin an event, you do not start with your most pounding rhythms. As people begin to congregate, they like to have something light and easy playing in the background. They enjoy tunes that they recognise, something that has a good beat, but not something that overpowers them. Having these types of songs available promotes conversational gambits if a conversation is going nowhere, people can talk about the music they’re hearing. This is a great way to break the ice.
Your level of participation in breaking the ice depends upon the event. At a wedding, people expect your announcements to keep them aware of what’s happening next. At an oldies nightclub, you might intersperse your music with trivia questions. At a school dance, the party-goers might simply want you to play what you’ve got.
Once the ice is broken they all like to dance or at least tap their toes to favourite songs, from corporate bigwigs to grannies. If you are playing more for professionals who will at least at the outset restrain their behaviour, then you should tuck Lady Gaga away safely to the back of the list. On the other hand, you’ve got to have the Lady right out there for a school dance.
Warm Up the Crowd
As you warm up the crowd, you can begin to play some of the real dance music. When does the warm-up end? Check with your contact; most likely with appetisers or a meal you’ll stay with the easy stuff until the crowd finishes what they’re eating. As people begin to push their plates away and the chatter grows louder, that’s your cue to get serious with your music.
Begin with the dominant genre of the evening, but expect to change it up every three to four songs. This serves a couple purposes. First of all, people will dance for about that many songs and then go for a beverage or a breather, so you’ll want a switch in the music that will lure other people to the dance floor. That’s especially important if you’ve playing a place where the drinks make the money, because it keeps the crowd at the bar rotating. Second, since not everyone likes just one genre (unless it’s a genre specific club, bar or party), you will keep the crowd satisfied by giving them something new with each change-up.
Time to Move & Groove
Studies have shown that people love to move to stuff that’s between 120 and 140 BPM. That’s the average person’s heart rate during an exercise workout, and music played at that rate will keep people moving. Happily, most pop songs are in the 125-130 BPM range. People also like something with a steady rhythm, so avoid songs with rhythmic interruptions until the crowd really gets going.
The best DJ playlists blend songs with like rhythms so that they can overlap the intro or outro of a song. Most dance music is 4/4 music, excluding polka, waltzes, and some country, so it’s best to use a multiple specifically a 32 beat to do this. It’s also important to keep music at the same sound level as you go from one song to another, and some DJs try to mind the key as well.
All this beat mixing and matching is a little easier with more recent music, since songs from the Nineties are usually constructed with long intros and outros. Nevertheless, the best DJ playlists are put together from trial and experience, and there are pre-mixed DJ playlists that can help you get the cadence you want. With experience, you’ll be able to pick up on the vibe that’s moving throughout your dance floor and you’ll become expert at building on it.