We’ve all rocked up at a gig, ready to play until you realise that you’ve left something you need on the side at home. If you live a hop, skip and a jump away, a mad dash to home and back isn’t ideal but it isn’t the end of the world. If you are in a different city or even a different country – you’re at the mercy of those around you. Not a good position to be in and it doesn’t give off a good impression.
Don’t let it happen to you. Use this article as a checklist to tick off before you leave home. Do the same when you are packing up so that you don’t lose anything. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t leave for your gig without these 10 essential items in your DJ bag!
10 Essential Items
1. Power cables, adapters and controller leads
For digital DJs, your power leads, adapters and controller cables are one of the most important things to pack, and yet they are some of the easiest to forget. You are going to be snookered if you can’t get hold of the leads that you need, quick-sharp. You should always have a fully charged laptop just in case you do need to buy yourself some time before you get your hands on your cables. DJ software and controllers will tan your battery in no time, which is not an experience you want to put yourself through.
2. Headphones and your 1/8″ adapter
Headphones are simple to forget, and you can’t do diddly squat without them. Borrowing from other DJs isn’t ideal – you are putting them under pressure because cans are a personal thing. What if they were planning on going home and they are the only person that can help you out? Double-check that you’ve packed your cans and 1/8″ adapter on your way out to avoid embarrassment. If you have an extra free pocket, consider packing an extra adapter as well, just in case you lose one.
3. Spare cables
You should always have a spare audio cable with you just in case. Whatever you need to plug your controller into a mixer or PA, take one of those. A basic RCA-RCA one would usually suffice. Having one of these stuffed at the bottom of my bag has saved me countless times when playing at house parties. Never assume that the place you are playing at has exactly what you need. Another good cable to take along is a RCA-mini jack in case you need to quickly plug your phone in if your computer crashes.
4. Something to clean your gear with
Wet wipes and soft, absorbent cloths take up hardly any space whatsoever and are worth packing. A microfibre cloth is best for cleaning screens, your DJ controller faceplate, and other delicate stuff. An absorbent cloth is good for quickly mopping up spills, ash and so on. Wet wipes have dual-function: as said above, don’t assume that the venue will have toilet paper when you need it.
5. A multitool
A multitool is handy to have around because you might need to unscrew a plug or socket, set the sensitivity on your controller’s jogwheels if it is that way adjusted, bend something, cut something, or tighten / untighten something.
6. Emergency mixtape and backup USBs
Out of the blue, computers and DJ controllers sometimes crash. Have an app on your phone with a suitable track cued up and ready to go, just in case. You can also burn a CD with a little mixtape of yours on it. This CD can be used to buy you a bit of time should you need to unexpectedly leave the booth or if setting up is problematic. If someone asks you for a mix, you can always hand them the CD at the end of the night as a nice touch. Backup USBs with your tracks all beatgridded and ready for use on DJ media players mean you are prepared for almost any outcome.
7. A pen, paper and business cards
Having a pad and a pen in your bag is great for taking requests down or handing notes to people in a loud environment. I have even ordered a drink this way. You might want to exchange contacts with someone but your phone is dead. This isn’t an issue if you have a pen and paper with you. Business cards are self-explanatory, you should always be ready to push yourself and network with other DJs, club owners and promoters.
8. Duct tape
Duct tape will get you out of all kinds of bother. It will repair broken leads, speaker stands, lighting units, DJ consoles – the list goes on. It can stop things wobbling and you can tape down precarious cables with it. More than likely, it will sit in your bag for years patiently waiting that time that it saves your hide.
9. Medication and remedies
If you are prone to allergic reactions, pack some antihistamines. If you use antacids, take some with you. If you often get headaches, bring some painkillers. Of course, if you are on any other kind of medication, take some with you too. You can’t nip to a pharmacy or pop home in the middle of a five-hour DJ marathon and this basic “first aid kit” will put your mind at ease.
10. Water and snacks
Having a bottle of water to hand is always necessary. DJs, especially those that are playing longer sets, must stay hydrated. Snacks or some fruit is also necessary; low blood sugar will make you irritable and prone to concentration lapses. Don’t let lack of energy spoil your night. Take a banana or a packet of Haribo. Have some chewing gum with you to keep your breath fresh. As with the previous point, it’s difficult to get these things at the club in the middle of your DJ set, or even after.
Still have space?
If you still have some space going in your bag, then why not pack a mains extension – you may end up having to DJ a long way from a spare power socket. If you are DJing abroad, pack a universal power adapter. Obviously, don’t forget your IDs, earplugs (please look after your ears) as well as a lead for your mobile phone. A portable power block is also a good shout if you still have a spot for it. In the past, a torch/flaslight might have made its way onto the list but was left out this time because most mobile phones have this feature built in.
You should consider having all the items listed above in your DJ bag, they have been picked from our experiences. It’s worth making a checklist to go through before you set off for your gig. You never know what difficulties you might face before, during or even after you have played. It’s always better to be prepared. After all, that is the Scout’s motto!
Did we miss anything off this list? Which is the most important item that you pack in your DJ bag? Do you have any odd items in your bag? Which bag do you use? Let us know in the comments below…