Over To You: How Do You Start & End Your DJ Sets?

Joey Santos | Read time: 2 mins
over to you Pro
Last updated 23 March, 2018

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Over To You
Do you get on the mic, drop a DJ intro, or do something special when you kickstart your DJ set? What about when you end it? We’d like to know in today’s question…

There are many ways to start and end a DJ performance. The songs you choose to bookend your slot mostly depend on the context of the DJ set you’re playing: Being the lone DJ for the evening lets you exercise more control over how you begin and end, while being on a five-DJ lineup means you have to take into consideration your time slot (no bangers during opening, please) as well as the DJs coming before and after you.

We’ve all got our own tricks for managing these situations – versatility is a DJ’s strength – so in this Over To You, we want to know: how do you start and end your DJ sets?

I’ll kick things off: I’m more of a party / mobile DJ these days. I do more private shows and functions, so that usually means I spin anywhere from two to four hours. I always start my set with a DJ intro that I produced, which is a collage consisting of TV advisories mixed with some Beyonce mashups (I always start a party set with some Queen Bey, at least for my shows where I am both the opening and closing DJ). Everything after that, I programme and mix on the spot through crowd reading.

I normally end these party sets with more familiar tunes. I choose between two routes: I can play something slower to bring people down and get ready to go home, or I play something uptempo to end with a bang.

For the former, I usually drop R&B or slow jams – Just Friends by Musiq Soulchild or Tamia’s Officially Missing You find their way to the top of my closing playlist. If I want to leave on a high note, I play a 90s house or trance classic: Born Slippy by Underworld, Infinitely Gentle Blows by Scott Hardkiss, or Orbital’s Beached are examples of this. I sometimes even go disco with something like Last Dance by Donna Summer (the wedding DJ in me making himself felt).

If there’s a DJ coming after me, I talk to him or her and ask what music they’re playing, especially if I’m part of an open format lineup, and then I end my set by playing one or two songs to bridge potential gaps in style or tempo. You don’t always need to do this, but I just feel like it’s a good way to segue between DJs since it allows the dancefloor to ease into the next set.

This is how I start and end 95% of the time – the other 5% is for when things just don’t seem to go right at the beginning (eg venue speakers are blown, the sound system came late, laptop suddenly updates right before the set, and so on). Murphy’s Law applies to DJing too: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. When that happens, I just take a deep breath, say a quick prayer to the gods of techno, and wing it!

So, over to you: Tell us how you start and end your DJ sets. How you manage switchovers? What are your top songs for starting and ending your slot? Get sharing in the comments below.

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