8 Must-Obey Rules For Being A Team Player In The DJ Booth

Last updated 26 November, 2017

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Cramped DJ booth
Busy DJ booths can be creative and fun places. If you know and follow the etiquette, you can help to keep them that way. Pic: Flavorpill

When you DJ with other people, you’re on a team, and that team has to play well together in order to perform effectively. The crowd doesn’t really care about the individuals as much as the whole. If all the DJs on a night can make it work as a team, it benefits everyone.

So if you’ve got a gig coming up where there will be lots of other DJs playing (especially where you all have your own gear), and you want to be sure you’re contributing to the whole and not treading on any toes, here are some time-won rules for being a good team player in the DJ booth:

  1. Set up before the club fills and strike only when the club is done – Try never to “strike your gear” until the end of the night. It’s straight rude to the current DJ, and the people in the crowd will see your packing up as a sign that “the club is closing”
  2. Bring back-up equipment and make sure it’s on and ready to go – Whether it’s a CD, a USB or just an iPod plugged through an Aux In, be sure to have a backup to cover any crashes
  3. Understand which set you’re playing and what that means – As a team, you should be building towards goals: for instance, if you’re the opening DJ, you’ll be slowly building up the energy for the next DJ, in order to gently pull people onto the floor. Know where you’re meant to fit in with the whole
  4. Know how long you’re on for and at what time you transition out… – It’s worth having a timer going (with an alarm) so you don’t run too long (or short). Try and ensure the next DJ is there at least two or three songs before their set (at least so they can hear the groove and read the crowd). Likewise, ensure that you’re two or three songs early for your set
  5. Be considerate of the next DJ’s set-up – Know how the next DJ is going to operate in their set, so you can make it easy for them to take over. This is preferable to them entering a DJ booth with your gear piled all over their gear – gear which you helpfully unplugged right before your set because you couldn’t find any power sockets for your own!
  6. Never interrupt a DJ while he’s transitioning between songs – Even if the DJ is late getting off their set, let them finish their mix before communicating with them
  7. Don’t co-pilot the current DJ – Even if you know them (in fact especially if you know them). The DJ booth is almost always too small, and you getting in the current DJ’s way is likely to lead to them feeling smothered. Give them room to work just as you’d like to be given space yourself when it’s your turn
  8. Never argue in the DJ booth – Have the discussion later if you need to. Probably best to let things cool down anyway, and ultimately the crowd doesn’t want to see DJs in heated discussion when all they want to do is dance

The bottom line…

Basically, a little communication and respect goes a long way. If you’re actually running the night, it’s good to ensure “someone in charge of the crew” actually supervises all of the above and makes sure all the DJs understand these types of rules.

But even if you’re just booked to play an hour or so at an event, this is your blueprint for making friends of your fellow DJs, and for ensuring you play your part in giving the public what they paid for.

• DJ ForcedHand is a DJ from from San Francisco, California. You can find him on Facebook and SoundCloud.

Do you regularly play with lots of other DJs? Have you ever been the victim of inconsiderate behaviour in the DJ booth? Any “rules” you’d like to add?

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