Want to Improve Your DJ Performance? Don’t be so Lazy!

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December 18, 2012 by DJ Elroy

denver, dj, djelroy, elroy, house heads anonymous, digital dancefloor, house, music, techno, electro, edm

When it was just turntables and a mixer, it was a level playing field—you could either mix records or you couldn’t  Today, with Traktor, Ableton, and the latest CDJs, those loose mixes have all been tightened up with technology, so now the real skill is the track selection and how you create the mood for your set. I think these formats are great, but can also lend themselves to allowing the same playlists to be played night after night as it`s right there in front of you and it worked the night before. This might work for some DJs, but for me, I always want to try and challenge myself with new mixes at every gig. As for pre- recorded sets—DJs that just press play—that’s a whole other debate.


This pretty much sums up the problem with so many DJs today. They are lazy! But this quote from the Digweed interview got me to thinking about things…

Some suggestions for the nightclub/rave DJs:

  • Dig for music, challenge yourself not to buy anything from the Top 100 for the next 3 months and see how your mixes turn out.
  • Make your own unique edits. This is different (and easier) than making a remix. Just chop up the song and re-arrange it. Customize it for your style and set.
  • Think outside the box. Experiment. Try something new and don’t be afraid to fail. But always have a backup, guaranteed winner. If you kill the dancefloor, build it back up.
  • Don’t pre-plan your entire set. Take a few to open up with, a few to close with, and just go with the flow on the rest. Take the vibe from the club and build your set around it. This may sound strange at first, but after you’ve got some experience in the booth you’ll know what I mean.
  • Don’t play straight banging hits all evening. You need to give the crowd a chance to follow you; grab them with something new, build, slow it down or break it down, build some more. Learn how your music flows and go with it.
  • If the guy before you played it, don’t play it. If the DJ headlining after you produced it, don’t play it. I shouldn’t even have to say this.
  • Watch the dancefloor. DJing is just as much about reading the crowd as it is about playing the music. Make eye contact. Move around, dance. Don’t stare at your laptop the entire time. Don’t stand in one spot.

Don’t be a douche. If people want to know what a particular song is, tell them. But don’t be a pushover, either. If you don’t do requests, say so. If you don’t play a particular type of music, don’t take a gig that wants that type of music.

Learn DJ Booth Etiquette. Show up early, make sure you’ve got the gear you need to perform, and run a soundcheck if you’re opening. If there’s somebody playing before you, don’t crowd him out of the way as you come in late and try to set up your rig. And if you’ve got somebody waiting to play don’t play a 10 minute track with 2 minutes left in your timeslot.

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