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How To DJ Properly – Drinking On The Decks!

by Matt · 0 comments

in How To DJ

Learning how to DJ properly is about a lot of things.

This is why these 5 DJ tips can help you to learn how to DJ and get the balance right before a set.

Mastering your gear, learning how to mix like a club DJ, knowing your music inside out and the desire to spread the love are just some of the qualities and skills you’ll need.

But even when you’ve prepared perfectly well, when you feel relaxed with your tunes and you feel like your gear has become an extension of your body, things can still go wrong. 

My review of the book also known as “How to DJ Properly”

What can go wrong in an otherwise perfect DJ set?

DJ intuition plays a big part in this.

It’s hard to find much information explaining how to develop better intuition and making people dance.

Most good DJs don’t even know why they’re good at selecting the right tunes.

They just feel instinctively what people want to dance to.

They think like DJs all day, every day.

How can you develop that kind of intuition?

Part of knowing how to DJ is also about being in the right state of mind.

In fact, many pro DJs would even say this is more important than anything else.

How is it that you can sometimes “not be feeling it”?

We’ve all been there, nights where it seems almost impossible to make anyone dance.

Nights where people just don’t even react to the tunes you’ve played before that would usually make people dance on top of tables.

Good DJs have also had nights where everything seemed to go perfectly; when they mixed well, their tune selection was bang on and people smiled at them and hugged them.

On the other hand, they’ve also had nights where people were miserable, grumpy and seemed to like nothing that was played.


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How to DJ properly – prepare for your set

Now relax, I’m not bringing out that old cliché you read absolutely everywhere when learning how to DJ. I’m not going to tell you to practice till your ears and hands are raw.

We all know that practice makes perfect. Or does it?

What I am going to tell you should lead to you spending less time preparing your and still DJing like a pro on the night.

First of all, go here to read my top nuggets of advice before playing out. 

Once you’ve done that, come back and read these tips which will prove just as useful.

1. Don’t practice much on the day of your gig

Stupid as it may seem, you should plan to avoid practicing too much on the day of your important gig.

Plan to give yourself enough time to avoid cramming any desperate mixing practice 2 hours before you leave to the club.

Your performance comes from somewhere deeper than what you’ve just learnt that day.

It’s the icing on the cake of your years of hard work, thinking like a DJ, imagining how to DJ, collecting music and observing how people react in clubs.

You can’t learn that kind of intuitive skill by cramming in a hardcore “how to DJ now” tutorial the same day.

Check through your new tunes and by all means, have another listen to them, but do this in a relaxed way. Don’t be listening to them when you’re in a hurry or stressed.

You learn while you sleep

Your brain is programmed in such a way that you learn and absorb information while you sleep.

Have you ever woken up in the night with a solution to a problem?

Ever get so involved in what you do that you dream about it all night and assemble all the information?

The same applies for DJing. Most DJs dream about their work, whether they’re pros or amateur.

It means you’re absorbing what you’ve learnt on a deeper level.

Leaving any preparation till the last day will not only stress you out, but it means your set, while it may have its moments, may well be thin in substance.

Chill out on the day of your set. You’ll need to be on the same wavelength as the clubbers and party animals.

Your hardcore preparation should be done days beforehand.

2. Deep breathing a couple of hours before a set

You may get some nerves and tension in the hours leading up to your set on the day.

Make sure you see yourself as performing well, relaxed and being positive that you’ll play a great set tonight.

Take 20 minutes on your own, with your eyes shut in a room where no one can disturb you.

Empty your mind

Empty your mind of thoughts and concentrate only on your breathing.

This is very hard at first but also very beneficial. Breathe slowly and deeply.

This technique will free you from obsessive thinking which can become a problem for some of us.

Thinking too hard and over-analysing situations just causes more tension.

Calm your mind down and you’ll develop better intuition and consciousness.

Try it and see how you do.

3. Laugh and make jokes before a set

Telling you to laugh around before a set may sound bizarre at first.

But compare that to you arriving at a venue all tense and pent up – which one would you rather be doing?

I’ve arrived at a venue very tense before. I ended up playing only tunes I’d thought of just beforehand. I couldn’t deviate from my selection because I was afraid to. Don’t let this happen!

Looking back, I should have played different tunes that night, and it took me about 40 minutes to relax and start being myself.

Way too long.

When you play out, speak to bar staff, promoters, anyone at all before and during your set.

Release the pressure on yourself, try to crack a few silly jokes, laugh a bit.

You’ll be a much better state of mind.

4. Have a drink but don’t get drunk

Now there are times when I’ve arrived for a set, done my first hour quite well and yet noticed that people aren’t really reacting to what I’m playing.

Then I grabbed a beer. After just half a beer, I then chose a tune which was more adapted to the crowd and they start to react positively.

Then the next tune I did the same, and I started to properly chill out and people liked it.

Is that strange?

Not really. You see, the first hour I’d been concentrating so much on getting my gear, mixes and tune selection correct that I wasn’t relaxing. I was taking myself too seriously.

I needed to chill out and I didn’t even realise it.

Don’t think everyone’s looking at you. They’re not. They’re out to have a good time.

Most of them are chatting someone they’ve got their eye on, others just like a good dance. But hardly anyone is judging you, so chill out.

If you do get tense then a drink might help you open up. Have a beer, have whatever you like. Get on the same wavelength as your crowd and relax with them.

Take a walk around the dance floor or bar area to check your sound is fine and get a feel for your crowd while you’re there.

Moving out of your booth helps you soak up the atmosphere and understand what people want to hear.

So go ahead, if you like a drink then have one.

Don’t get drunk.

I would play at a bar/club for years where the bar staff would regularly ply me with beers and shots.

One of these guys would even serve a double vodka in my drink of beer.

As you probably know, you can’t really taste vodka in beer. Not much anyway.

After 3 pints of beer, all with vodka in them, I was getting trashed already.

I heard afterwards this guy would get another DJ totally shitfaced too! Much more than me. This other DJ guy couldn’t even remember getting home.

It’s all pretty funny, until you start forgetting what tunes to put on next.

Getting trashed while DJing is a sure way to lose your train of thought and to totally forget what the hell you were about to do.

You’ll have real troubles concentrating.

So by all means, chill and have a drink. You may even play better.

But don’t overdo and get wasted out of your box!

5. Get a good sleep if you’re DJing

Looking back, I can definitely say that my least successful nights were when I was tired.

Being tired can mean you let little things get to you. You amplify situations and you think they’re negative.

You get disappointed too easily. You can be over-sensitive.

Being tired when DJing can sometimes mean that you can’t think of what tune to play next. You’re getting pissed off that people aren’t dancing as much as they should, and it shows in your tune selection. It creates a downward spiral.

Tiredness can mean you start getting a bit defeatist. You kind of accept that things are going badly, and that’s it.

What you should be doing is thinking positively. If things aren’t going to plan, then be confident you can rescue it.

Put your mind to making people dance and feel the flow of the energy.

This’ll be the best way to approach getting over any difficult periods during your set.

Getting a good sleep for a couple of nights before playing improves your performance. I guarantee it.

Chill, sleep well, breathe and make ’em dance.

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