Reader Dan Wiliams writes: “I’m 18 and have been DJing for around six months now (I have a Mixtrack and an X1), and a friend of a friend has asked me to DJ at a party they are holding to raise money for Japan. I haven’t played anywhere before. It’s in a farmhouse-style venue that holds 300, although I expect less people than that, and it won’t go on past midnight (lame, I know!). I asked what music she’d want, she said mostly top 40 but I don’t think I can adhere to that! 😀 I think I’ll start off with some dance-pop tracks e.g. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry then move on to house/trance and finally play one of my sets later on (drum & bass). I don’t know how people will react to the music and I’m getting anxious thinking that nobody will be dancing or take any notice, especially if I play a “proper” set later on in the night.”
“My main worry is people not being on the dancefloor and being elsewhere socialising all night. I know that I shouldn’t play “bangers” if there’s nobody dancing but how do I attract people to the dancefloor?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
The main thing is that people only dance when they’ve had a few drinks and when they’ve been somewhere a while. You may spend half or two-thirds of the night with an empty dancefloor, but it will happen at the end. Be patient and see the bigger picture, and don’t take an early empty dancefloor personally. You are aiming to start commercial then go more specialist. I’d say do it the other way around: Start with non-offensive but less well-known music, then as you go on, play slightly louder, and slightly more commercial, ending with big, well-known records. I think you’re daring to turn up and play drum & bass when they want top 40; I’d forget that idea.
Don’t worry about filling the dancefloor right away. It’s a mistake to play all your big records early to try and get people to dance! Think how you’d feel in the venue and when you’d feel the pull to dance, and use that as your guide.
What would you do in Dan’s situation? Have you ever played a party where you weren’t sure what music people were into and nobody danced early on? How did you cope? Please let us know your thoughts and any advice you have for Dan in the comments.