Advice for a Newbie

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Hey everyone. I'm about to DJ my first gig ever. It's the back to school dance for the small high school from which I graduated. Slightly nervous. I'm confident that I have adequate equipment for the event. What I'd like to ask is for your top 3 or so best recieved songs (what really gets them dancing). Any other small tips, tricks, do's, or don't would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 

Arnoldo

New DJ
Nov 29, 2006
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Lakeland, FL
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Zman, welcome! There will be a few who will ask what equipment you have-- at this point, it's pointless since you got the gig. I just hope it's more than adequate for your crowd.

High schoolers are not afraid of telling a DJ that they suck. I know from experience-- I WAS that Highschooler. ;) (Thought I was gonna say something else? Don't think so, hahaha).

Don't start the night with the hottest songs, but dont kill it by playing crappy songs. Play songs that are hot and new-- but not the hottest.

You should look at the last three Top40 lists and categorize which songs are the most important... from there, you could form a pretty good playlist.

Dont go by national Top 40 charts, either. I hate those because they're never accurate to a particular region.. find the hottest radio station in your area.. get their website.. and download their Top lists.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Yeah, what Ace said...

You'll find that there are groups of kids that all hang together and want their own type of music.

I did a high school prom, and most wanted current "Billboard" songs, but there were several groups that asked for everything under the sun. You're going to piss some of them off if you don't play their stuff.

Problem is, if you try to please everyone, you're going to piss off everyone. Be forewarned.
 

DJ JohnThe1

DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 12, 2006
6,782
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NY born and raised. Living in NJ.
Welcome to the board!
Ace has a good point with checking out the local hot station for a listing. You can also go to Promo Only and order or peak at their Mainstream radio and Urban radio formats for the past 6 months.
Also make sure your sound system is up to the job. I hope you are using at minimum 2 15"s and 2 subs.
Good luck, it will be fun.
 

eddieyourdj

DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 13, 2006
2,276
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Jonesboro, Arkansas
www.djeddiefite.com
Welcome Z-man! I did a back-to-school dance last weekend for a junior high school. I will also agree that you need the latest "urban" hits(not Top 40). You can vary slightly. Cha Cha Slide , Ice, Ice, Baby , Baby Got Back went over well. But even that could be geographical. Do your homework & you will be fine!
Here is a list of some of the songs that I played:

Party Like A Rock Star
This Is Why I'm Hot
Walk It Out
Shoulder Lean
Snap Yo Fingers
Chains Hang Low
Lean Back
Pop, Lock & Drop It
Lean Wit It. Rock Wit It
King Kong
Lip Gloss
Umbrella
Soulja Boy
I Got It From My Mama
The Way I Are
Chicken Noodle Soup
Shut Up & Drive

WOW, I've successfully got you through your first hour! Just send half of your first check to me via Paypal...:sqwink:

No CraziAce, I will not come work for you...hee hee

Good Luck...thx
 
Thanks for the advice. I'm reassured that I having all the hot urban/hip-hop hits as well as some of the classics (i.e. Baby Got Back) will keep them dancing as long as I use some brains about when I play what.

I'll post my system specs soon, nothing to drool over but hopefully enough to get the job done.

In the meantime any thoughts on other genre's?? Just to throw a song or two into the mix that either A) works well with the "urban" hit or B) is received well even though it isn't hip-hop??... Garth Brooks - Friends In Low Places always seemed to work well when I was in high school...
 

Fred Wright

Administrator
Staff member
Aug 7, 2006
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Garth is a good idea. Always went over well. Country crossover tunes (Kenny Chesney) ain't a bad choice. Use in moderation. ;)

Some of the older dance standards may be thrown in the mix. When I was doing school dances, Chubby Checker's The Twist worked well. Rockin' Robin got 'em hoppin' as well. Hip hop standards from Will Smith, 69 Boyz and TLC always worked. Them pups like a lot of bass. :)

I dunno if older ones like The Train and Booty Call still work but if they don't, you can always segue to something else. :D

Just a little tip: Save the best for last. :)
 

Chuck The DJ

I know people.
ODJT Supporter
Sep 28, 2006
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ask the school for a song list.. I always have them supply me with one. It may be made up from a small portion of the students, but will give you a starting point...

I did a high school last Friday,,, biggest songs of the night...

Cha Cha Slide, Lean like a chole, Sandstorm...

Funkytown went over well as did Sexyback...

AcDC Shook me all night long did good also...
 
K

Kirby Ball

Guest
Had a fairly large group of teenage girls that attended a reception a couple of weeks ago and they requested and squealed with delight over:

1985 - Bowling For Soup
Sk8er Boy - Avril
Boyfriend - Avril
C'mon and Ride The Train - Quad City DJs
I Love Rock n Roll - Joan Jett
Umbrella - Rihanna
Shut Up and Drive - Rihanna
Wannabe - Spice Girls
Got It From My Mama - Wil. I. Am.

Among others.....Remember I don't do school dances so my take on this will probably be way off.... :D
 
Madness hit on a point I was going to make. Watch out for lyrics they may get you booted by the staff if it gets too nasty.
I would also look at the I-tunes "whats hot" list and see what is being purchased.
The list's above are all good. Don't be afraid to mix in some good old school Bust a Move, U Can't Touch This and such. Play 'em early to get them into the groove and hold off on the "Big" hits until later in the gig. Don't want them to peak too early but definatley keep them interested.
Also.....no matter what you play....someone is going to think you SUCK!
It's just part of the business. Don't let it bother you.
I've sucked at school dances for almost 30 years! :)
 
Still haven't gotten a chance to browse my library or gather system spec's... I'll try to get to that sometime this week.

I am in the process of cleaning up my library... radio edits only... looks like "Back That Ass Up" might be totally out of the question. Kinda sad, it was always a sure play and sure hit at dances when I was in school. However I can't seem to find an edited version that is worth playing... everything I've found drops off every five seconds.

I'm curious about how much cheese I should throw into the mix. "YMCA" and "Cotton Eye Joe" I'm pretty confident will go over well if played at the right time. Any ideas on songs like "Boom Boom Boom" "Pump Up The Jam" or "Tootsie Roll"??
 

eddieyourdj

DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 13, 2006
2,276
115
56
Jonesboro, Arkansas
www.djeddiefite.com
There are still songs that I just will not play! Thay are popular, but just way to explicit! I believe that there are more than enough "playable" tunes that you can weed out the questionables(and keep in the good graces of the administration).
A few that come to mind are:
Get Low
Back that Azz Up
The Roof Is On Fire
P***Y Control
She Hates Me


...thx
 
System specs. as promised.

Audio:
Dell Inspirion 9100 Laptop
Behringer DX626 Mixer
BBE 362 Sonic Maximizer
Gem Sound EXA 3950 Amplifier (700 Watts per channel @4ohm)
(4) Gem Sound TR-150 Speakers on stands (300 Watts RMS each)

Lighting:
10'x10' I-beam truss system with T-bars
Eliminator Lighting Starblast System
Eliminator Lighting Octobar
(6) Eliminator Lighting Mini Strobes
(2) Eliminator Lighting Mini Moons
12" Mirror Ball w/ (2) Par 38 Pinspots and 3RPM motor

I think that's everything. Pretty basic setup. Gets the job done for what I'm charging and the events I'm booking (mainly school dances of about 350 or fewer students).

Next step I'm looking at an American Audio VLP-2500 Amp. and a pair of either Behringer B1800X Pro or Behringer P1800 S subs. Any thoughts?
 

dlang2100

New DJ
Sep 23, 2007
11
0
45
How did you go about booking your first gig? did you have any experience?
thanks for your help
Deanna
 

Fred Wright

Administrator
Staff member
Aug 7, 2006
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Delaware, USA
www.nwedj.com
I'm curious about how much cheese I should throw into the mix. "YMCA" and "Cotton Eye Joe" I'm pretty confident will go over well if played at the right time. Any ideas on songs like "Boom Boom Boom" "Pump Up The Jam" or "Tootsie Roll"??
I don't see why not. The old school thump jams work quite well. I used to play 'em at the middle school dances every time. They were requested anyway.

You may get away with non-edited tracks with the high schools. It depends upon who is chaperoning, lol. For the younger ones, try to use radio edits when possible.
 
Deanna
I was lucky in booking my first gig. My first cousin is now the principal of the high school I graduated from and I'm remembered by the faculty and staff in a positive light, so I was lucky in that aspect. Second booking I was also lucky, another realtive is assistant principal of the middle school.

The other thing in my favor is there aren't many mobile DJs in my area. In my opinion the demand is slightly larger than supply, this coming from the difficulty in finding a DJ that several of my friends have encountered in their recent weddings. As you'll learn in any econ. class this drives rates up, as of now I'm keeping my rates relatively low in order to get my foot in the door.

Booking my third gig was actually easier than the first two. The following Monday after my first gig I received a call from a school wanting me to do their football homecoming dance. I was told that by the client that they had heard I'd done a good job and that was the basis for their decision to choose me (Apparently news travels fast).

As far as true DJ experience goes, I had absolutely zero going into my first gig. However, I have done some things that kinda sorta overlap and helped me believe that I could do this. First of all, I now have two seasons of coaching teen soccer teams... gotta get them pumped up about the game and have to be very vocal. This boosted my confidence when it comes to talking on the mic. Secondly, last year many of my college friends lived in the dorms (me and my roomates made that mistake the year before) while I rented a house in which several get togethers were thrown and even had a few dance parties. We used my equipment (iTunes, laptop, and large bookshelf system) so I played "DJ" by default. The successful dance parties were when the females were happy, which was when the hottest urban/hip-hop hits were playing (I made sure to stay on top of them... the songs not the females).

What finally made me decide to get into the biz was all the helpful resources on the internet. I first stumbled upon videos on YouTube posted by briansredd, a mobile DJ with several videos and very willing to help others (I emailed him with several questons and got a response the same day). I then ran across djtutor.com, several videos covering several topics. Finally I found ODJT, this is now my first stop for info, everyone here has been a great help for me so far.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
 

Chuck The DJ

I know people.
ODJT Supporter
Sep 28, 2006
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Sebastopol, California
www.ChuckTheDJ.com
You asked about Behringer.... I personally have only bought some once and didn't like them, buut that was just me....

I think that you might be happier with JBL,,, or if you are on a budget Peavey.... now before everyone starts slamming me, Peavey is great gear for the price point.... I used Peavey in different combinations for most of my 20 years doing schools, and they always ROCKED!

The best thing is that you really can't hurt them, they are made well, and again, at the price point, really hard to beat.

I was a big fan of Crown amps, but they are expensive,,, QSC makes good amps..

But many will tell you to go powered,,,, I won't, but many will.... keep your options open,,