Graham's Blog Archive

How To Be A Party DJ

Posted by Graham
May 25th, 2015

Having attended a wedding yesterday along with the obligatory disco I was moved to write this.

All the gear – no idea!

It would seem that some DJs live in their own fantasy world behind the “decks”. Perhaps they think they’re hosting a rave?

Perhaps they think the teenage bridesmaids are into acid-house or hip-hop or whatever it’s called? Maybe they are, but with parents present they’re not about to remove their clothing and start jumping up and down whilst popping pills.

When the penny eventually drops around 9:30 they frantically search for music for the over 40’s and start playing all the wrong stuff! By 10:00 most of the relatives have gone home, and those who are left are invariably pissed out of their heads through boredom.

In my day as a 70’s DJ I had it much harder than you guys – fancy trying to include a “Gay Gordon” or two? You might think that would fit quite well into today’s scene, but do your homework! A “Gay Gordon” is old time dancing!!!

What I knew back then was that some chart music was appreciated by the older generation. If they could do their kind of dance steps to “modern stuff” they would dance!

Every time I played Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” I’d get my Mum waltzing into my room – such music has a tendency to get all ages up on the dance floor even today!

Almost without fail I had generations of party guests up on the floor from 9:00 to chucking out time – if I didn’t give them at least 2 hours solid enjoyment I felt I’d cheated them.

Today’s older generation were 60’s and 70’s listeners – today’s 30 something’s remember a lot of 70’s records because their parents were playing them long after the demise of 70’s disco.

It’s so easy today to play such records. You don’t have to build up a collection of 45 rpm singles for years – you simply click a button on Amazon and you’ve got the lot!

Gimme a laptop and these: “100 Disco Hits” and “Now That’s What I Call Disco” and I could just about pull off today what I used to pull off every week in the 70s for weddings and coming of age birthdays – but it would be so easy with the technology you have today!

Here’s a good 1 hour of music:

  • Disco Inferno – The Trammps
  • Blame It On the Boogie – The Jacksons
  • Lost in Music – Sister Sledge
  • Le Freak – Chic
  • Give It Up – KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Rock the Boat – Hues Corporation
  • Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  • Working My Way Back to You – The Detroit Spinners
  • Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden and Whitehead
  • Everybody Dance – Chic
  • Boogie Nights – Heatwave
  • Daddy Cool – Boney MI
  • Love to Love – Tina Charles
  • Yes Sir, I Can Boogie – Baccara
  • Love Train – The O’Jays
  • The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)
  • Sister Sledge – We Are Family
  • KC And The Sunshine Band – That’s The Way (I Like It)
  • Donna Summer – Hot Stuff
  • Gibson Brothers – Cuba
  • The Hues Corporation – Rock The Boat
  • George McCrae – Rock Your Baby
  • Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle
  • Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

(arrange to give some continuity of beat)

Then you’ll need something to really liven things up like “Lets Twist Again”, “Jungle Rock”, “Oops, Up Side Your Head” etc.

10:30 – Slow it down a bit for smooches but limit it to two or you’ll lose momentum – play such as “Kissin’ in the Back Row of the Movies – The Drifters” – some will dance “normal” to this. Then if you don’t have any more music, repeat the first lot – you might even make notes the first time around to see which music got the most people on the floor.

You should aim for applause and shouts of more at the point you have to start the close down – that’s when you have to announce that taxi’s are waiting because the crowd is so far gone.

And now: The Equipment.

Discos are noise right? Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Sit the audience side and if you think you’re robbing the audience, do something about it! Maybe you think it’s OK? Ask the people who are milling around (caterers, cellar man etc) whilst you set up and ask for their honest opinion – you might not like their answers, but think! They’re probably the type of people who are going to attend your gig.

The quest for bass is OK for raves but you’ll piss-off a good half of the private party who don’t want their liver, heart, bowel or kidneys rearranged. Most disco bass cabinets can’t do lower than 50Hz – the 18″ drive units at the party I attended couldn’t even reach 75!!!

The boom is the thing that’s the problem. Do not sit bass cabs on a wooden stage!!! All you’ll get is booooooooooom. Stop being lazy and make some stand-offs! Experiment till you get a nice sound. And whilst you’re at it get a good amp or multi-amp set-up, and make sure your speakers really can handle it – distortion turns people off!

Most people don’t like foggers for health reasons. Too concentrated and it harms the eyes. Think about it? Triethylene glycol is very similar to car antifreeze (a pig by-product) – do you get off on its smell (scented or not)? Neither do I.

You might just find these tips get you more bookings. I got paid today’s equivalent of £80. The guys last night charged £120 – what a rip-off they were!

Before I forget, I’m sure the question will be asked of what to play prior to 9:00? Clue: Black Lace!