The Art Of Rocking A Party

repostED from Attack Magazine.

Thomas Cox argues that promoters need to be more critical when booking DJs to play at their parties.


Throwing a good party should be easy. The basics are simple: find a venue, get a soundsystem, book the right DJ. It’s the last of those three that often seems to cause problems. A good party relies on many moving parts, most of which are not the responsibility of the DJ. But once those other things are adequately taken care of, it’s the job of the DJ to hammer it all home. So why do so many parties still fall flat? Having been involved with dance music for two decades, it astounds me to see the same mistakes being made over and over again. These ideas are rarely discussed out loud in the industry, and most of the mistakes are interrelated. Let’s examine what it means to book a DJ who knows how to rock a party.

“Picking the right DJ is probably the single most defining choice for a party.”

Picking the right DJ is probably the single most defining choice for a party. This is the person in charge of setting the atmosphere for the evening, taking the energy of the room up and down, sending everybody home at the end of the night feeling fulfilled. But not every DJ is created equal. Despite being a relatively simple concept at its most basic level, DJing is clearly difficult enough that there are many DJs being booked all over the world who have no business being on that level. The first mistake happens when skills are ignored in favour of celebrity status. If the main draw to a party is the fact that the headliner has a few popular records right now, that should send up red flags immediately. More producers than ever before are out on the road playing DJ gigs to generate income, despite not really being DJs. Sadly, there is zero direct relationship between the quality of a producer’s recorded output and the quality of their DJ sets. Even worse, it’s now impossible to gain any insight into a producer’s DJ skills from listening to their mixtapes, which can be as much a product of studio skills as their original tunes. As such, one would expect it to come out sounding good if they’re already making music on that level. Weak DJs typically fall into a few common traps which are detrimental to the quality of a party. I’ve seen many DJs play what sounded like a planned set. They played exactly one style of music at one energy level through their whole set, even when the situation called for something to change. I’ve watched ‘name’ DJ headliners clear an entire party out without even trying something different to stem the tide of heads walking out the door. This is pretty much inexcusable from anyone, much less a headliner. The entire point of a good party is the symbiotic relationship between crowd and DJ, where energy levels are amplified by playing the right record at the right time. If this most basic of premises is a problem, everything else in the party is going to go very poorly. (Full Article)