I can still remember how nervous I was before my first couple of gigs. I mean, my hands were shaking! Your mileage may vary, but it’s definitely normal to feel some excitement before DJing in public. Here are a few tips on how to deal with the nerves.
Plan ahead. DJing is all about improvisation and interacting with the crowd, but you should come prepared. Have a clear picture of what kind of music you’ll be playing. Keep your “Record box” playlist handy where you’ll draw most of your tunes from.
Don’t dwell on it. Don’t think too much about the event or how you’ll do. Excessive dwelling on that kind of stuff will make you do worse. And completely throw the gig out of your head on day X. Go for a walk, play a video game, do something else.
Avoid substances. Don’t do alcohol, drugs or anxiety medications, especially if that’s not what you accustomed to. You want to stay sharp and not ruin your chances of ever playing there again.
Get rid of adrenaline. Go and jump on the dancefloor with everybody else before you’re due to come in. Exercise helps you get rid of excessive adrenaline and gets those endorphins released.
Don’t worry about what others will say. I know it sounds cheesy, but try to relax and have fun. DJing is not brain surgery; nobody will die if you make a couple mistakes. Even big pros make them, I swear.
Focus on the tasks at hand. When you’re on, focus on what you have to do here and now. Observe the dancefloor, map out the next few tunes to play, do your beatmatching if you need to. Live the moment.
It gets easier after the first couple tracks. Most of the time, it’s smooth sailing after the first transition or two. If you’re really nervous, play it safe and make those first few mixes plain and simple. It gets much easier after that.
Breathe deeply. It really helps.
And one last thing to wrap it all up. The excitement that you feel before a gig is actually useful. It helps you stay sharp and alert and tells you that you’ll do well. Deal with it properly, and it will be your ally, not your enemy.
Booze? Medications? Or a walk in the nature? What’s your favorite way of dealing with the nerves? Share your advice in the comments below.
JM has played open-air gigs, shared the stage with the likes of ATB and had mix albums released commercially. He has been teaching DJing since 2008.
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