It finally happened to me...
I never knew for sure it really existed. I mean, I've heard people tell me the horror stories, but had never seen one before. In fact, it was so bad that I couldn't divert my eyes from seeing it. Right before my eyes and ears it was happening, a slow motion train wreck that would mortify everyone within earshot. What am I talking about, you might ask? I saw my first horrible DJ.
I had to fly across the country from my beautiful Lady Lake/Ocala area where I know most of our local talent to Vegas for a conference. This is not me being overly critical or jealousy about not DJing the event, although I would have preferred to do so. My analysis of this DJ's performance is based upon 20 plus years of professional experience of DJing for weddings and clubs in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. So others don't make the same mistake, I'm going to outline what separates a Pro from a "Schmo."
1. The Spotlight
There are many entertainers out there who believe that since they were hired, the spotlight should be on them. Weird right? It's hard for us to set our ego aside because we love our craft and we enjoy the spotlight. However it's hard for some DJ's to understand that the event isn't about you. Through years of experience you learn that a DJ is a narrator of an experience that has yet to happen. Unfortunately, while I was at this awards dinner, this DJ in particular was oblivious to the fact that he was flushing his credibility down the toilet. The use of the reggae horn during every award announced, the applause sound FX that carried over for way too long, caused the spotlight to shift away from the winners of each award to him. Great DJ's now how to put focus where it's needed.
2. Mixes Seamlessly
I'm sure it goes without say, a DJ has got to be able to mix and transition seamless. I could end there, but seriously, the DJ had top-of-line equipment. I know because I love talking gear, but I digress. One of the unspoken requirements of bringing your mix out of your bedroom, you should be able to transition your mixes. Beatmatching, at the very least, is a skill the every DJ should know; not only know, but be proficient at performing. I kid you, not every transition sound like a train wreck. Yes train wreck is technical term; look it up. Never mind, I'll show you.
[ Trein-rek ]
1. an accident in which a train or trains are severely damaged.
2. A DJ transition so bad that the beats collide, clash, and causes the collective dance floor to go "WTF".
3. Song Selection
The hardest of all to get right is music. You got to know what your songs are going to do for your audience. A great DJ is going to know where they want to be three songs later. I couldn't believe my ears when this Vegas DJ sheepishly got onto the mic and mumbled an intro into "The Cupid Shuffle" and announced that he would be playing Pitbull right afterward. I thought to myself, "okay this is leading somewhere", so I hit the dance floor. We went through the robotic motions of the "Cupid Shuffle" and then much to my surprise, the DJ played a Pitbull song that no one knew. I never knew you could go wrong with Pitbull, but in fact, I was wrong.
The point is that every DJ needs to know how each of their songs is going make an audience react. Are you trying to warm up a floor, sustain it, or give your crowd nothing but bangers. Great DJ's know how to use their music to create excitement and energy on the dance floor. In my opinion, this particular DJ did not know how to string to songs together and hold his floor. The best performing know how to weave their mixes into miniature music stories that audiences willing go along with.
I hope this gives you a better idea of why I was so shocked and disappointed in the mix of the DJ. In all honesty, I don't like to judge other DJ's. Listening helps me learn and get better. Unfortunately, I'm not sure this DJ was self aware enough to fix him mistakes.