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Club DJs – How To Read The Crowd

by Matt · 2 comments

in DJ Gigs

For club DJs who are relatively new, you might be realising DJing is not just about your technical skills.

There’s a whole artistic side to it, something which is essential for success and for getting good gigs.

This talent is not tangible and is hard to describe. Even the club DJs who are the best at reading crowds don’t always know how or why they do it.

This is the DJ intuition.

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How can club DJs read their crowd?

So how best can you read the crowd whilst DJing?

I’ve put together a few DJ tips garnered both from personal experience and talking to other DJs.

Why is learning to read the crowd important?

To be successful, people should be dancing

This is what DJing in clubs is all about. You getting people to enjoy themselves.

Tune into the crowd. They can feel it when you can.

When your heart beats faster and you’re excited they can feel it too.


The energy bounces off the crowd back to you and then you bounce it right back. Some DJs have the natural ability to tune in, others take longer but get it eventually.

Read their vibes

Reading their vibes and picking up their signals is the first part, knowing how to react is the second part.

What’s that girl who’s dancing away doing? Can you follow up this tune with something even better?

Here are the top tips for club DJs who need to read and react the best way. 

Top tips on first gigs for club DJs

1. Pay attention to their reactions

When you play out, you’ll have to pay a fair amount of attention to your mix and your choice of music.

Just as importantly, remember to watch your crowd regularly and to try to read their reactions too.

By this I mean taking regular looks at yor punters, feeling the atmosphere and adapting your music to it.

Do you have more girls than boys? Do they look more bling, more rave or more indie?

Try out some styles

When you try out that new electro tune do they start smiling and perking up, some of them jigging a bit? If so, try more of that style.

The way people react to different styles you try on them is key to knowing what musical path to follow.

This doesn’t mean following every request every drunk girl makes to play Abba or Whitney Houston, but it does mean that you’re playing for the crowd and you should play what they want, not what you want.

You’re not DJing for yourself, you’re playing for them.

2. Know your musical styles and be able to adapt

Pretty obvious you may say. Not really in fact, you’d be surprised.

The best DJs have a wealth of different styles and a back up for anything that may not go as planned.

That is to say, do not turn up with just a single musical style in your repertoire.

Don’t play house and have nothing else to play when you’ve been asked to play in a place where house clearly doesn’t go down well.

Experiment with other styles and when you get a positive reaction, it means you’re on the path to a better night. 

The right style for the right time and place

If you’re playing in an indie place, don’t play techno.

You’ll get ideas from the look of the people about their musical tastes. Get into the habit of guessing what music people enjoy and trying it out on them.

You may play at clubs where different people could turn up at any time, with different tastes. 

Need some tips on how to know your music better?

3. Check out the club venue beforehand

When it’s possible, check out the club you’ve been asked to play in.

Visualize yourself behind the decks. See what kind of people hang out there and spend time having a drink, maybe talking to people.

Make friends with and chat to the bar staff and bar owners. Bar staff occasionally display a surprisingly good knowledge of music due to the numerous DJs they get to see and hear and the reactions they observe to them.

They can also tell you what kind of crowd will be in the night you are programmed to play on.

Tune yourself into the people

Get the feeling and vibe of the crowd, see what music they dance to.

For DJs who are travelling to another city to play where they’ve never played before, this obviously doesn’t apply.

In this case, it’s better to talk to the promoter or club owner on what kind of style should go down well. Get some tips and feedback but don’t take his or her word for it completely.

You can add your own touches to your mix as well.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vibe Beast March 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Yo some cool tips..

I think you can’t teach this stuff. Reading the crowd is either you HAVE It or you don’t.

Some guys just play out a tin set they planned and hope for the best.

And what is funy is that sometime this actually works out!


2 The Animal Instinct March 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Imagine playing out a planned set. DJ Loser in the house!!! lol


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