The art of the opening DJ

Just passing along an excellent article on the art of being an opening DJ. Like most other DJs I have had my share of time spent opening a night for other DJs. Sometimes you feel torn between wanting to show what you can do and playing what is appropriate for that time slot.

When I moved to SF I had been a DJ for 5 years. I had played any number of gigs both small and large and I had established myself in Seattle. Moving to a new city required patience. Lots and lots of patience.

When I did get a gig often it was a warm-up slot. My philosophy is always to play appropriate for the time and environment. Maybe 10pm with only a few people on the dancefloor isn't the best time to prove I can play all my hard driving breaks. Not that I'm perfect. There were times for sure I played where I cringed after seeing the dancefloor clear.

I bided my time. Eventually after putting out a series of DJ mixes and playing some house parties that went over well (does anyone remember the afterparty at Ron Nike's house where I played and then Lee Coombs came on afterwards?) I started getting opportunities to play prime time slots.

The bottom line is look at your watch, look at the environment you're in and take in the mood of your crowd.

I once watched Josh Wink pull a reset at a party in Whistler that perfectly demonstrated how a DJ should NOT warm up a crowd. The DJ before was playing big breaks and hardly anyone was dancing. There was no warmth to the music, nothing to draw you in. Just big loud brash beats. Wink pulled it back and started playing music that had a little more melody and hooks to it. Within 15 minutes he had people's attention. At the 30 minute mark people started dancing in earnest. At the hour mark the party was going off.

What do I remember about that night? #1 that the DJ before him completely ignored the room and didn't do his job #2 Josh Wink was a stud that night for exactly the opposite reason. He gauged the room correctly and pulled everybody in and got them going. It was a shame that the crowd wasn't already warmed up though.

Check out the article