The day has finally come and you’re invited to DJ your first gig in public. For most of us, this is exciting news, but also a bit scary – am I going to do all right? What if I screw up? Don’t worry, here are a couple of pointers to get you ready for your first public performance.
Turn it down if you’re not ready. If you just started practicing or, worse yet, barely know what DJing is all about, turn down the gig and play when you are more prepared. And no, you won’t be more prepared in a week – becoming more or less confident with the basics takes months.
Preparation is key. Don’t plan your whole set in advance but do have a general understanding of what you will be playing. That said, leave yourself room to maneuver and bring a wider variety of music than just your favorite Egyptian minimal techno tracks. You never know what direction the crowd will lead you in.
Visit the venue ahead of time. This is the best way to learn what music you should be bringing. You’ll also get to see what music other DJs are playing and whether it works or not on the dancefloor. Talk to the bar staff about a typical night and get a peek at the DJ booth if you can.
Know how to defeat the nerves. Don’t do drugs or alcohol – you’ll only make matters worse. Jump around on the dancefloor before coming in if you need to get rid of the adrenaline. Concentrate on your job, not all the things that could potentially go wrong.
Get ready to come in. It’s OK to ask the previous DJ about anything you’re unsure of as far as the equipment goes. Are there any problems you have to be aware about? Check how the monitoring works and how the mixer is set up. And please, do check from time to time what it sounds like on the floor.
Have fun! You’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes after just a couple of tracks. All your worries recede into the background and you end up in this blissful, intense state of presence playing great music for other people. Remember that they are not there to judge you, and this is not an exam. Enjoy!
Do you remember your first gig? How did it go? Share your experience 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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