What is a Wedding DJ


The importance of a good Wedding DJ

The DJ is the most important element in a successful party.  Let me repeat that . . .

The DJ is the most important element in a successful party

Take a good look at the above sentence.  Feel free to stare at it for a few minutes until it fully hits home, because it’s very, very important—and known to only a few.

We wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but it can happen that the quality of your party was reduced to lukewarm pop slop.  But fortunately you’d hired a top-notch DJ, who rose to the occasion, and all night long provided a heaving dance floor.  The guests will remember your wedding as the one that left them thrilled and fulfilled.

How does that work?  Let me explain. . . .

In our culture it’s hard to imagine a party where music and dance don’t take central stage.  Other things are of course important, too.  For instance, the Burgundian Belgian can appreciate good feasts as well. 

Strangely enough, if the food served up turns out to be inferior, there’s sure be grumbling at that moment, and those gripes are shared with equally disgruntled tablemates.  Life goes on, however, and in no time this will be forgotten.

But hey, when the DJ comes up with bad music, the result is an empty dance floor.  Rest assured that years afterwards those quests will still be talking about how bad the party was!

The stuffy ballroom and the undercooked fish will be forgotten by the guests in no time.  But there’s no escape for a bad DJ.

Music is the most important ingredient for the success of your entire party.  There’s a lot of truth in the statement, “The DJ makes or breaks a party.” 

This book will help you find the right DJ—the guy who’ll make your party unforgettable.

Offers

The supply of DJs in disco clubland is large.  Quacks and professional DJs are everywhere on the internet, and each one praises himself to high heaven!  

Unfortunately, we live in a time where every teenager with a collection of illegally downloaded music and a laptop can call himself a DJ. 

The relationship between the music and the passion for it is usually hard to find.

What happened to the time when a DJ put together a treasure trove of records, doggedly searching for that one number?  Those guys—and I’m one of them—knew every song in their collection.

The internet era turned this on its head, and not always in a good way.  You’re the customer, and it’s your job to separate the wheat from the chaff and find the right DJ, the guy who still has a passion for music.

It’s certainly not an easy job.  You can check out the hairstylist beforehand, and before you order your wedding cake you can taste a sample a few weeks beforehand.

Finding a good DJ/disco bar is another kettle of fish.  If you’ve never heard your potential DJ manning the music box, it’ll be like reading tea leaves.  What the guy tells you is all you have to on.  Maybe he’s a good salesman, but that doesn’t make him a good DJ.

The DJ breed

Before we ask ourselves how to recognize a good DJ, let’s study the DJ breed in its natural habitat, behind the turntable.  But beyond that, too: on its home turf.

Apart from all the music styles they play and their particular specializations, there are two different types of DJ.  

  • Club DJ: On the one hand, we have the DJ who scours the festivals, discotheques, and dance cafés. 
  • Mobile DJ: On the other hand, we have the mobile DJ, who travels around the country with his portable equipment, and transforms the local parish hall into a real live dance palace.

We’re going to look at the 2 different types of DJs in detail.

The Club / Festival / Disco DJ

The DJ arrives half an hour before the start of the event with a laptop, a handful of USB sticks, or some vinyl records.  He goes “on stage,” or plants himself behind the mixing desk, and does his thing for a few hours.

The leading lights of this type are of course world famous, and are the new rock stars of the 21st century.  But critics will insist that these DJs do hardly anything “live” and that everything is pre-recorded.  Whatever the truth of that, let’s leave it for the time being.  The groupies, along with the hundreds—or even thousands—of fans milling in front of the stage won’t care much either.

The famous rock-star DJs are of course at the top of the food chain.  But the humble DJs who come to the local youth center to play some records belong to the same group. 

While there won’t be a crowd of a few thousand frenzied groupies drooling at the feet of the latter, what they have in common with the “rock stars” is that both play the same style of music, mostly contemporary dance music.

In many cases they’ll have little or no knowledge of music outside of their own genre.  Music from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and the party classics, will often be unknown to them.  

Of course you’ll find one or two exceptions, but generally speaking these are not the most suitable DJs to let loose on your wedding celebrations.  We’re talking about a totally different profile of DJ.  A very different market, and a very different target audience.

Usually the club DJs are a lot more technically skilled, and are able to seamlessly mix contemporary dance music.

Another big difference is that a club DJ won’t have to deal with the over-perfumed, obese aunt who drives him up the wall, calling for Barry White!

That said, there’ll undoubtedly be club DJs famous enough to have their names gracing festival posters, and between gigs they’ll be doing wonders for your wedding party.  But be aware that a DJ like that is very much in the minority, and in all likelihood his price tag will be a sizable one.

The Mobile DJ

A completely different kind of DJ is the one who drives a light truck loaded to the roof with speakers, CD players, and lighting installation.  He’ll drive to the venue, arriving 2 hours early, and maneuver all the equipment inside.  He’s the one who installs a complete sound and light installation wherever you want it.  In a ballroom, a marquee, a parish hall . . .  Even by the swimming pool! 

Another difference is that the club DJ has to cater to a much more varied audience, both in age and tastes in music styles. 

The mobile DJ will have to master a whole range of styles, which can include music from the ’60s, ’70s, disco, and contemporary hits.

It goes without saying that a guy of this caliber will make your wedding glitter like gold.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Your heart’s desire

We’re fast approaching the essence of this book.  What constitutes a good DJ?  All too often we hear someone saying, “a good DJ is one who’ll give me what my heart desires!”  A belief that, if you think about it, is absolutely mistaken.

Being a DJ is a profession in itself.  The trainee DJ has to build up experience, and he needs a good coach if he’s going to become a maestro in his field.

You pay the DJ for his extensive knowledge of music.  But certainly also for his acquaintance with the dance floor, and how he can judge which music needs to be played, and for whom.  A craft that requires a lot of practice and experience. 

One of the facets that makes a good DJ is that he plays the music that his dancing public wishes to hear.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be what you wish to hear.  In fact, in many cases, your “heart’s desire” won’t work, and it leaves the dance floor empty. 

This doesn’t mean that you’ll dislike the music he’s playing.  It’s just that the songs are ones you yourself wouldn’t have chosen to hear. 

Anyway, he’ll have to make an effort to actually give the music you want to hear a fair chance.  Maybe even more than once. 

But if the dance floor remains inert and empty, and the requests the DJ receives are diametrically opposed to the list he received from you, it’s up to him to evaluate the situation and choose the right style of music.

Assessing the dancing crowd is therefore one of the most important skills of a DJ.

Mixing

Another very important point is whether the DJ can mix.  With a good mix, one song flows smoothly and seamlessly into the other, while both songs are transmitted through the speakers at the same rate.   

So, at some point, both songs will be audible at the same time. 

Being able to mix the music is a must.  There’s no excuse for a DJ who can’t mix.  In fact, a DJ who can’t mix is hardly worthy of the title of DJ!

Unfortunately, many people are under the illusion that playing music doesn’t technically involve much more than pressing the “play” button.  A mistake that causes many money-grabbers to decide that they, too, want to become a DJ: “Hey, how hard can it be?!”  Sad to say, that attitude often results in an empty dance floor and dissatisfied guests.

Basically, almost anyone can learn to mix, just like almost anyone can learn to play the piano.

Admittedly, one person will be able to master the instrument a lot faster and/or play much more complex scores than another. 

At the end of the day, it’s within every person’s reach, as long as that person is prepared to practice.  Learning to mix is comparable to learning to play a musical instrument; it’s a matter of practicing long enough and intensively enough. 

In this day and age, we have all kinds of software that makes mixing almost automatic for the DJ.  This may be a solution, but software is not without its flaws, and can occasionally become corrupted. 

Nothing lays over “the real experience.”  A DJ needs to be able to mix.  Period.

Les Goûts

I’ve already said it and I’m going to repeat it many times: a DJ’s suitability is a personal matter.  One person’s wow DJ can be a total flop for someone else.  Age, style of music, taste. . . .  The French have a word or two for it: “Les goûts et les couleurs, ça ne se discute pas,” speaks volumes.  Freely translated: There’s no accounting for taste.

Further on in this book I’ll describe in detail how to find that wow DJ, and what to look for during your search.

The ego

I hate to say it, but many DJs are towers of self-centeredness, fancy themselves as rock gods, and often they and their colossal ego can’t squeeze through the same door together. 

It especially becomes a problem when the DJ’s ego gets in the way of providing the music your party demands.

Jukebox

A DJ should never be guided by his ego and his own taste in music. But there’s truth in the statement, “I’m not a jukebox!” 

The DJ is expected to assess the situation from moment to moment and respond to it.  A request number that doesn’t chime at all with the mood the DJ is planning for the party can quickly clear the entire dance floor. 

That’s why it’s unwise for a DJ to cater immediately to all requests.  As a DJ you also get the most ridiculous requests.  People don’t always realize that the music they request

  • Isn’t danceable,
  • Doesn’t fit with the mix, or the mood of the moment,
  • Or is just too obscure for the other dancers. 

Think about it: “Do people really, really know what they want?!”

An experienced DJ knows that a certain song can have the wrong effect at the wrong time, and will empty the whole dance floor.

He also clearly knows where he’s going:  a buildup of different music styles and genres, often working toward a climax. 

A request at the wrong moment can completely undermine this.  He’ll perhaps postpone the requested song, or not play it at all. 

Requests

On the other hand, it’s also the DJ’s job to listen to his audience, and respond to their needs and wishes.

First of all, he should have a list of your requested songs.  After all, you’re the customer and you’re picking up the tab. 

But of course he should also be open to request from other guests. 

It’s up to him to decide whether or not the song will work on the dance floor.  Under no circumstances should his ego stand in the way of playing a song that someone else asked for.

Also watch out for DJs who wants to hog the limelight.  If that’s the case, then they shouldn’t have gone for a career as a mobile DJ.  It’s your party, not the DJ’s.  His contribution should be 100% in support of the party.  Apart from that, the DJ should be heard and not seen.

Hello, Mic!

Endless chatter on the microphone may have been standard practice in the past, but it’s out of place in the year 2021. 

A DJ should perform the mandatory announcements, and for the rest keep his mouth shut.  

Again, the superstar DJ might drive the crowd crazy at a festival by hollering at it, but at a wedding dance it will come across as intrusive and ridiculous.

A mobile DJ at a wedding party is no fairground attraction, nor does he work for the radio.  That how I feel anyway.  But a lot of people would agree with me.

Mike

I'm Mike, a wedding DJ for 16 years. I want to share with you as much advice as possible.

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