This last New Year I accepted to do a New Years Eve DJ gig at a friends place, and I did pick up some good learnings that I would like to share here.

Arrive on time

This was a NYE event for 50 people, with drinks, dinner and party afterwards. So my friend and host had his hands full with the preparations and managing all the stuff that comes into play when you have to cater for 50 people. It was a bit naïve of me to expect that he would be able to help me with any issue I would encounter.

In order to have his attention, we agreed that I would arrive 2 hours before the guests so I would have enough time to set things up properly.

Unfortunately and for several reasons, I was late and only 45 mins before the guest started to arrive. BIG mistake. I basically had to setup in a hurry and didn’t have the time to properly test all the gear in it’s final setup. Result:

  • The music I was playing before starting my gig (I was a guest as well for the first part of the evening) was coming from my ipad through a small PA mixer into the powered speakers, but, for some reason, I got only mono sound from one speaker. Afterwards I realised I hooked the iPad correctly to the mixer, but the channel was set to mono in the configuration. During the evening itself and with so many things demanding my attention, I just didn’t have the clarity of mind to properly troubleshoot and solve the problem. So the music during the first part of the evening was not at an optimal volume and coming from only 1 speaker.
  • The only spot that was available for me to setup my gear was behind a wall, in front of the toilet entrance. SO I had to tolerate people behind and around me for the entire evening, with spilled drinks on my gear as a result. Can I blame the people or the host? Not really, I should have come on time and secure a decent spot in the room early on.

Gear placement

I didn’t have a DJ table with me so I had to DJ on very low table that caused me to be in bad DJ position for the entire evening. So my next buy will be a decent portable DJ table/booth. Djing is demanding enough on your hearing, no need to add a back injury to that…

Test test test test

I have been using Rekordbox DJ for a while and was planning to use it during the gig with a Pioneer DDJ SR.

But, at the start of the gig, Rekordbox decided to forget my license information and I lost access to the Performance section of the software. No idea how that happened, since I have bought a paid license for while now, so it wasn’t a case of an expired trial version, but it did. With no time to fix the problem, I had to revert to Djay Pro and play with that, without access to my prepared playlist. As a consequence, I had to search a lot to find the tunes I needed, with added stress that could have been easily avoided.

How to handle requests

You will get them, and you will get them a lot. In this particular case, the party goers where mainly french speaking, and expected a lot of french pop to be played. I was prepared for that, but still I had to say no to many requests because they didn’t fit the mood of the evening or simply I didn’t have them. Lesson to take away: don’t be afraid to say no, even multiple times. Important is:
always stay polite, make a joke if possible, and people will understand and move on. If the dancefloor is packed (and it was!) people will forgive you (almost) everything.

A good idea is to always have a free channel to hook up ipods, phones etc for that 1 request that someone or the host wants to hear desperately and you can’t play.

Alcohol

I was offered a lot of drinks, and as the night progressed and the people got drunker, the drinks got heavier. I occasionally accepted one, but I always drank a lot of water in between them. In the end, I believe I had mostly champagne, a bit of wine and liters of water. It allowed me to keep my head clear for the entire night and be in shape to pack up all the gear at 6 am in the morning, get home and store everything away without suffering.

Finally…

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time doing it, but if I would have better managed a few details, my experience could have been so much better! The key points:

  1. Arrive on time at your gig, assume you need double the time you think you need to setup, test and fine tune your gear
  2. Know your audience, understand what type of music they expect and be flexible enough to prepare for that.
  3. Test your software, test your hardware. If you DJ from a PC, ensure it’s clean, fast and everything is setup correctly. Don’t assume it will just work!
  4. Don’t get drunk. You are doing a job, you need to keep your head at it. If you drink, drink a lot of water as well, to avoid alcohol taking over entirely.
  5. Have fun!

What do you think about DJing on New Years Eve? Have you already done it? What other experiences can you share? Comment below!

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