How To DJ

How To DJ – Learn to DJ with my guide. DJ ing and whipping a crowd into a frenzy is a great experience. Get it right and you will enjoy a very rewarding career!

How to DJ - Learn to DJ with me!

How-to-DJHow to DJ – Where do I start? Over the coming weeks & months I will be gradually adding to this page to eventually produce a comprehensive guide on How To DJ. It will cover as many aspects as I can write about. How To DJ – Learn to DJ and work with an audience, equipment choice, mic techniques, music selection, along with tips & tricks i’ve learn’t over many years of DJ ing. Have a question you would like me to answer? Ask Any Question How To DJ I will try to help, and publish your question and the answer here!

The first most important thing - The client!

I’m here to DJ and work for you. My job is to delight you, the Bride and Groom (or the client), and make your guests very happy. This is your event. Whatever you want, that’s what I’m happy to do. Nothing is too much trouble. I’ll bring my expertise, you’re going to be happy with everything down to the smallest detail! And you can call me anytime if you have any concerns, or you just want to check everything’s OK. 07790 200800

Secondly, you need passion

Ok you love your music, turned up nice and loud. You’re in a club or at a party and you feel that great vibe, hear these amazing tunes, and the crowd are goin’ wild! You look across to the DJ, he catches your eye, and he’s buzzin’.. He’s locked in to the beat, connected with everyone in the room, and every time he ‘slams’ another tune in everyone screams with excitement! YOU wanna be that DJ!

You’re here because YOU want to learn How to DJ.. Carry on reading How To DJ and i’ll share my tips with you. YOU will be center stage. YOU will ‘have the audience in your hand’ and feel that same rush of ‘inner electricity’ I still get now, every time I get the music just right and the crowd scream ‘Yeah’! 🙂

How To DJ

How to DJ - Aaron wants to know!

Aaron Rowswell has a few questions he would like me to answer, so I’ve asked him to hit me with a list, and I will do my best to answer them here, on How To DJ.

He is new to DJ ing but has already worked in Mayhem Southend doing a warm up slot! Aaron could be a ‘high flyer’. He’s very keen, just like you! Keep your eye on him, he could be the star in a club near you soon!

The DJ had everyone up dancing!

From the moment you arrive at a party you can begin to collect information about the audience you will soon be performing in front of (or ‘fed to the lions’ if they aren’t so receptive). As you move around setting up your equipment, listen to others in the room. Is there a buzz, lots of laughter? Are people mixing?

People at a wedding reception don’t necessarily know each other, however if there’s excitement with people chatting loudly, there’s a clue for you, the entertainer, that you are much more likely to have an easier night getting people up!

How To DJ – Learn to DJ will arm you with tips to get everyone mixing in the room, and feeling more relaxed, as you command their attention and entertain them!

How To DJ at a wedding or older birthday party

As people arrive you’ll be playing some background music. If it’s a wedding this might be Michael Buble or Sinatra, at a level where by people who don’t often see each other can hold a conversation. Always helps to have a playlist from the people who have hired you so you know exactly what they expect of you. Be aware of the volume, you don’t want guests fighting to hear each other.

Remember all aspects of your performance are under review, not just by the clients and their guests, but also the staff at the venue! If you impress them with your tenacity you might even end up as their resident DJ! You want them to like you more than their regular DJ, so do your best at all times and that includes looking happy, approachable, and alert. Even if it’s like watching paint dry at times or you’re getting it in the ear from some kids there 😉 look ‘engaged’ and approachable at all times. The time that you drop your guard will always be that moment when someone important catches you out.

How an audience behaves

I always compare parties to setting up a fish tank. You set the room, add the people and initially they might ‘hide’ in corners but as they get some alcohol inside them and get to mix a bit, they ‘loosen up’. Note that I don’t advocate adding alcohol to your fish tank to improve their environment, however please let me know if it has a positive effect!
If there’s a buffet, this I find is often a ‘hinge point’ in the evening because it forces guests to mix, and once consumed the party gets going quickly. As you get to know How To DJ you will find these tips and tricks can get you out of a ‘sticky situation’ too.

Lighting is so important. Once that buffet has been running for half an hour get those in-house lights lower. People are self conscious, especially if like me they can’t dance that well 🙂 Get that dance floor ambient lighting low or off if possible, and your own lighting then comes into it’s own.. This is one of THE most important tips I can give you to get people on the floor.

I’ve worked predominantly as a mobile DJ, however I’ve also had long term residencies at busy wine bars with anything up to 700 people in the audience.

Where is the venue? Be prepared

One golden rule of How To DJ is preparation. Make sure you know where you’re going-get the postcode for the venue and use a Tomtom, so it takes all the stress out of finding that stately home or community centre hidden behind trees etc. Leave a bit of extra time if you’re unfamiliar with the venue just in case there are stairs to climb or you can’t park near to where you are setting up.

Always a good idea to collect information from the people before the gig regarding parking and what kind of haul you have with the gear. You could visit the venue a week before just to have a look. If you can get inside, you can check out where to set up. Ask the staff “Where does the DJ normally set up?”, and “What’s the best way to bring the gear in?”.

Learn How To DJ

How To DJ, Setting up your equipment

As you enter the room you look for a place to set up. You may be directed to a space, or be given a ‘free hand’. Be aware of fire exits and busy routes to toilets. Keep these areas clear, and make sure you’re not blocking, or placing trailing leads or trip hazards across them.


Speaker Placement

Your speaker placement wants to be reasonably wide apart so you get a nice sound with good stereo separation, & because you are covering a wider ‘sound stage’ you are reaching a wider number of people for the same given volume level. 

Your speakers can be floor standing for more bass, however the treble is absorbed by people and towards the rear of the room the sound may be muffled.Try raising your mid range / tweeters on poles as this part of the signal is directional you can aim it just above the audience head height. You will find the sound fill around the room is much clearer, speeches will be heard by all, & you won’t run the danger of over driving your speakers to reach the back of the venue.

Speakers will always sound more bassy when standing on the floor as opposed to up on the stage. This means on stage you have to drive them harder with bass to get the same sound.  Don’t over do it!

If possible place the speakers slightly behind you so that you can hear your performance. This will also greatly affect your mic technique and ensure you sound your best at all times. As the room fills, you may need to alter the tone controls. The room will sound less echoey because people absorb sound.

How To DJ: Lighting a room

Look for walls and ceilings to shine your ‘projection style’ lighting effects on. Light colour ceilings and walls make the best to aim at. Remember you may want to project a light directly above or on the wall behind you to make yourself a focal point. Don’t be afraid to light yourself up, after all you’re the MC and the main attraction!

Lasers are fantastic, but you need to follow precautions and site them where they can’t be directly looked into. There may be young children at a wedding reception or birthday, so you are now also acting as their safety officer. It’s your job to make sure all lighting, cables, trip hazards are under control and not presenting any danger. People don’t see as well in the dark, or after 10 pints, so look after your audience.

Equipment, Basic Maintenance

Your equipment must be reliable. It must work first time, every time. It gets dirty with drinks placed on speaker cabinets, so keep it clean. Have a spray bottle of soapy water handy and an old towel so you can wipe it before loading into your van. That way it’s looking it’s best for the next gig.

Amplifiers, mixers & speakers get jolted around in the van, leads for your mic get kinked or stretched at the connection points so from time to time re terminate the plugs. Get a screwdriver pack, some wire cutters and a soldering iron. Cut two inches off the cable and carefully re terminate the plug or socket, maybe doing this to all your leads once a year when work is slack.

Take some Electrical Spares & basic tools

Always carry spare fuses, EBay is a great source to make up a great ‘spares’ box to carry with you. If you have space to carry an old amp or mixer it may get you out of trouble one day. Bring a torch and a selection of screwdrivers.

Many venues now ask that your gear is PAT tested, so that it conforms to basic safety tests. Often there are mobile testers who will visit you, test every piece of equipment that plugs into the mains. They attach a sticker, and also provide you with a schedule detailing which items have been checked. The time period for this is once a year.

Aaron has some great questions about How To DJ.

As soon as I can, I will publish my answers. Learning How To DJ is an ongoing thing, you never stop finding new things out!

Question 1

When Entering a Venue, How do you test the Speakers and Microphone Without making a huge scene to People?

Answer: Try and allow enough time to set up your equipment and test it before people start to arrive. Most halls will be unlocked an hour before the start of the party. Some wedding venues will insist you set up in the morning before the bride and groom arrive. This is a great time to set up the sounds with less pressure. Check your CD players, walk around and hear the sound from the same place where your audience will be. Tweak the bass and treble until you are happy. If a member of staff are present, ask them if your mic sounds clear.

Question 2

When do you feel the need to change the Genre of the music without getting complaints and people telling you ‘Which song will get people dancing’?

Answer: Your judgement is based on what you see – how many people are on the floor, what age group and percentage most of the guests are, if there’s lots of talking going on. Until people have finished talking they won’t be dancing. This is often an hour or so after they arrive. The buffet gets people mixing, but you can’t dance and eat. Once it’s finished and the food has gone down, your dance floor will fill once more.

You will never please everyone, and you may get requests from people trying to be clever, catching you out with a record no one has heard of. If they ask for something that’s going to clear your dance floor explain that to them. Ask them for a few favourites, then you can choose what to play. If you think you can ‘get in touch’ with a large group of people who aren’t dancing or talking, change the music. Note their age, try and play to the girls. They love dancing, and guys like to watch them and join in.

Question 3

How can I improve my microphone technique?

Answer: Practise. Make sure you are in a position where you can hear how you are sounding, and how loud or quiet you are compared to the music. Never try and compete with the music, always ‘duck’ it down by a third of the volume when talking, and for important announcements loose the music all together. If you can hear ‘explosive P’s’ try altering the angle that you are speaking into the mic. Talk slightly across it or fit it with a windshield. If you know someone at the party, ask them “How do I sound out there?” Very soon you will gain much more confidence.

Question 4

When is the right time to introduce yourself?

Answer: At a party, start by playing background music. You want it to be loud enough to sound good, but not to overpower. Look for people having to lean across the table looking irritated because they can’t hear themselves, and back it off a bit. Try not to compete with people if there’s lots of talking going on. Once you’ve been playing for a while, say hi, welcome them to the person’s party. “Let’s have a cheer for the birthday boy” etc. Make a joke if you see something funny, but never get personal or you may find them waiting for you at the end of the night.

Question 5

How to get people up dancing?

Answer: You can’t make people dance if they don’t want to. At a wedding reception just after the buffet people may be full and prefer to just chat for a while. The most important thing is lighting. Darken the dance floor area and it will hugely increase your chance of getting people up. Look at your audience, anyone tapping their feet? Try a really strong current chart tune or 80’s classic and see what response you get. Or get on the mic and ask for a few requests. As soon as a few people start dancing a few more will follow and just try and build on it. You can try as a last resort to raise the volume to stop people talking. Don’t do it to excess and drive people out of the room.

It’s important not to take it personally if you can’t get people up. Every DJ will have a story of functions where they just couldn’t crack it. Never the less, many people still enjoyed the evening.

Question 6

Should I feel disappointed if somebody tells me my music’s poor and I’m wasting my time?

Answer: Think about what you’ve played, and your audience that night. If you think you could have done better just practice and get a few more gigs under your belt. Ask a good friend at the gig if they have any constructive words, tunes they would have liked to hear, or that you shouldn’t have played. If you couldn’t get many people up, but the person who booked you was entirely happy with the party then you got it spot on! So it depends who’s complaining. The main person is the one that booked you, so from time to time just check with them that everything is ok music and volume wise.

Question 7

Should i go to the venue a few weekends before and get a feel for the music which the crowd are loving?

Yes it’s a good idea, but if you are confident that your own style and choice of music will be great, then preserve your own style and just turn up for your set. Visiting the venue will give you an idea of how the sound system sounds, what kind of people are there and what music gets the best reaction. You might be able to chat to the person hiring you and see if they are happy with the night as it is, or if they want something different. Ask them what age group they want to attract, and that will guide you as to what to play.

Question 8

How do i know how loud to turn up the music without making it so people cant hear themselves think?

Answer: Watch people, all night. Look at them – are they having to shout to talk to the person next to them? Do they look irritated? Just use your powers of observation and judgement. If it’s too quiet someone will come and tell you to turn it up. If someone tells you it’s too loud, gauge the situation and act befoe you loose people from the room.

Where I Have Played

Take a look at the list of venues on the right side of this page. They are all bars, pubs, and function suites in the Essex area, and I have played at all of them many times. Soon you will be making up a list of your own, with memories of great nights, and people writing reviews saying how cool YOU,  their DJ was….

Way back in time Mobile DJ Geoff Grove-How I started out
Kids Parties Kids Parties
Reviews & Testimonials Reviews about me

Good luck and I hope my guide on How To DJ helps you in some way!