Digital DJ Tips reader DJ Joyst1ck writes: “I have been asked to DJ at a soccer club’s presentation night in September. I’ve been following your free email course and watching your Learn To DJ Free videos on YouTube, but I was wondering how you mentally and physically prepare for your first gig. I’m extremely shy and suffer from severe anxiety. Should a take Paracetamol if I get stomach aches? Please give me some tips to help me prepare.”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Firstly, it’s not up to me to advise you how to use legal (or any other!) drugs, but I would say this: Preparation is going to get you through. Be 100% sure of your gear, your music and your “plan of attack” and you’ll feel a lot calmer. I remember the first gig I was asked to play in a club. This was not just any club, but the club I’d been going to every Saturday night for about two years. It was an awesome place, massive sound system, knowledgeable and hardcore dance crowd. And I’m not afraid to admit I was scared completely witless. I was so nervous, that when I arrived 10 minutes before they opened, I had to run around the back of the building to throw up! So believe me, I understand your nerves.
Preparation is key
As I say, preparation is everything. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with practising the whole thing – role playing, if you like. “Turn up” at a “gig” at a friend’s house, with your gear and music. “Plug in” as if you were going to play at this venue, and do a dry run of your whole gig. This will help you to visualise the night in question, and visualising yourself doing it well will help to calm your nerves.
It helps to divide your set into sections. Think of it as four one hour slots (for instance) and plan each one separately (warm up, early, late, closing, for instance). Don’t be scared to write stuff down – I had a “crib sheets” often at my early gigs. You might not stick to it, but at least it gives you something to fall back on. Remember too that nerves don’t really show – learn to smile and act confident, even if your hands are shaking and you feel like throwing up! (And if you have to, put a long record on, go and throw up, and fake that everything’s OK when you get back…)
After all, they’ve asked you to do it, so never forget you’ve done something right already. And also remember that you’re just a small part of the evening. People aren’t there for you, they’re there for the presentation. Use this for comfort. Finally, you’re scared as much because you care about doing a good job as because you’re painfully shy. That’s great because it means that when you end up doing a good job (which I’m sure you will), you’ll feel the triumph even more.
I wish you a lot of luck!
Do you have to conquer extreme nerves or shyness before gigs? How do you do it? Please offer your words of encouragement to DJ Joyst1ck in the comments…