As a modern digital DJ, you’re lucky to have just a fraction of the kit of traditional DJs to move around with you. With just a controller, laptop, some headphones and a few leads to carry around, you already know the joys of turning up somewhere – especially somewhere with a sound system and not much else – and just plugging in and playing. On the beach, at a festival, at a pool party – you’re free like never before.
But there’s still the question of how best to protect your kit while you’re moving around, and the way you go about this depends whether you want to show off you’re a DJ or keep it quiet that you are; whether you jump on planes, drive or walk to your gigs; and how professional you want to look once you get there. Let’s explore the options:
Digital DJ type #1: I’m a DJ who wants to blend into the crowd on my way to and from gigs”
So you’re on foot, at a restaurant first, going out after, and you want your kit with you but not shouting about itself. You might consider carrying your stuff around in a generic laptop backpack.
Something that looks like any old laptop bag, because it is, is actually often great for the controller-packing DJ. You need a big padded section for your laptop, a main section for your controller (plus your sweatshirt carefully placed over the faders and knobs so they don’t key knocked or damaged in transit), and some nice big pockets for headphones and lead.
Go for one with enough nooks and crannies to tuck all your bits and pieces in, without having to put them in the main two sections, which should be exclusively for your laptop and controller plus whatever protective padding you’ve chosen.
Digital DJ type #2: “I’m a DJ who wants to show off the fact”
And why not? In the good old days, a record box or two was a great differentiator as you turned up at the club and barged to the front to get in. Nowadays if you want your status as a DJ to be shouted out loud and clear, you need a DJ bag that tells the world you’re not packing some sandwiches and some study books on your shoulder, but something more exciting.
Companies like UDG and Gigskinz (right) make specialist bags that can be carried over the shoulder (for the cool look) or with backpack straps (because actually it’s bloody heavy), and that protect your kit better as they are designed especially for what you are about to carry around. They also shout that you’re a specialist.
However, they look more nickable than your standard backpack, so you’re going to have to keep a closer eye on your kit! (At least with record boxes, you could normally catch up with the thief if you saw him trying to walk off with them due to their ridiculous weight…)
Digital DJ type #3: “I regularly fly to gigs”
Luckily, nowadays there are specialised hand luggage-friendly DJ trolleys for flights. If you don’t trust your DJ kit to the hold luggage (no way you’d catch me putting it all in there), you can easily fit it all into a bag designed to pass airlines’ size regulations. You may have to watch the weight, though.
These bags of course are easier to move around, as they have handles and wheels, and you can find some that look the part when you turn up at the club but don’t stand out as you negotiate public transport hubs on your way to your far-flung gig.
You’ll be just as at home blending in with the businessmen on the plane as you will barging to the VIP area in the club with a bag like this, and inside, the DJ versions offer all the padding and pockets you need to keep your kit organised and safe. Even room for a spare T-shirt and some underwear if you’re really posh.
Digital DJ type #4: “I drive to gigs and want to look a pro when DJing”
Let’s face it, an imposing DJ setup looks good. You glance over a bar or terrace and see a smiling DJ with some expensive headphones on and a monstrosity of kit complete with ubiquitous glowing Apple sign, all professionally flightcased, and you get that “DJ” vibe that maybe doesn’t quite come across in the same way from a perplexed-looking guy hunched over a Dell laptop.
If this is you, one way to get over the “digital discrimination” you’re feeling is to get your controller and laptop all set up in a digital DJ flight case. Of course, you’re not carrying this very far without a stop for breath, but your laptop and controller will look more like professional DJ equipment once you’re all set up. And if you add a DJ stand, you’re able to set up on a dancefloor, or the street, or anywhere else where there’s not so much as a table for you.
Protecting your kit is the biggest thing. DJ controllers are not cheap, and they break easily. Same goes for laptops. Past that it’s just a case of how you get to and from your gigs, and how much you want the world to know you’re a DJ, both on the way to the gig and once you’re there.
Personally, I think a good DJ could play on two iPods and get the crowd rocking, but if you would rather look like you mean business, flight casing is a good crux. Just don’t skimp on padding and protection, and pay more rather than less – this is an investment you need to make.
Some places to get DJ bags, packs and trolleys:
To get you going, there is some tasty kit over at the excellent DJ Tech Tools store, and there’s a massive range for European DJs at the decks.co.uk website.
How do you move you digital DJing gear around? got any horror stories of faders and knobs being ripped of through carrying kit around in your old school bag? Or, have you spotted a backpack or trolley you think we should now about? We’d like to hear your tales.