DJ Gigs 101: Dealing With The Crowd

Are You Keeping The Crowd Engaged?


One of the most overlooked aspects of DJing is interacting with the crowd. We focus so much on learning the equipment and perfecting our craft that we often forget the importance of knowing how to deal with the people who have showed up and paid money to hear us spin our tracks. We forget about these people yet they are exactly why we do this job; to see them gyrating and rockin’ out on the dance floor to our musical genius. Sure, they may occasionally be a little belligerent and a lot drunk, but they are why we’re here so dealing with them properly is not just advisable…it is essential.

When you work in a party atmosphere you will, at times, have to channel your inner customer service agent and be nice even when they make you want to choke them with your DJ controller cord. But most important of all, how you handle these guys will let the promoter or booker know you’re not just an amateur.

Be Calm

Since your “office” is a place where large quantities of alcohol are eagerly consumed you should expect that your patience will be tested, probably a few times every night. They will yell at you to play a particular track, more than a few times and they may even shout their displeasure at a current pick of yours. It is your job to be calm and stay calm.

Your DJ career is based on your ability to get people to show up where you are; if you act like a d*ck to the clubbers why would they want to be anywhere near you? When the clubbers are testing your patience simply take a moment and respond like you would a crying child.

Be Firm

Nearly every DJ I know hates two things: clubbers who constantly request songs like we’re just glorified jukeboxes and hoverers. You know the hoverers, those guys who are sneaking a peek over your shoulder to get a glimpse of your playlist. If you hate this, and you probably do, be firm (but kind) with them. Ignore your instinct to shove them out of your personal space and turn your back on them, because it won’t win you any friends.

Instead state your rules about requests—either you take them or you don’t—or tell them you’d appreciate if they back up. Some will understand and some won’t; when they don’t refer back to “Be Calm”.


Be Social

So you don’t like the hoverers but you don’t want to make them feel back, what do you do? You hand out a beer cozy, mouse pad, business card or lanyard with your DJ name, website and social media information on it. Telling someone to back away is taken a lot better when you tell them they can purchase certain mixes, mashups or sets by visiting your website, Facebook or whatever page.

Plus this is a great way to appease the semi-drunks who are just spoiling for a fight. Tell them to back off right now because you’re working, “but hey take this and visit my website” for whatever it is they’re looking for. Again it’s just how you’d deal with a baby “look at this shiny thing and stop crying”. DJing is sometimes a messy job, but somebody’s gotta do it, right?

Have Fun

When I was a young DJ just starting out it felt like I lived in the dark sweaty atmosphere of the nightclubs in town. The thing I hated most was when I looked up at the guy who got the paying gig, and saw he just looked like some bored desk jockey. He wasn’t smiling or even remotely moving to the beat, just staring at his equipment and these days those same guys spend too much time with their heads buried in a smartphone. Avoid being this DJ because this DJ sucks.

If the crowd sees that you are having fun, it will help them let loose and have fun. When someone is smiling and having a good time it inspires other people to do the same. As cynical as it sounds, the onus is on you to make sure these clubbers are having a good time. If you can’t be bothered to enjoy your own music…why should they?

Your job as a professional DJ is to get the party started and keep the party going. This means you need to be known as a DJ that is friendly to the people so that people will show up at the venues you headline. If you can’t draw a crowd then a club or bar owner has no reason to book you, do they?

This is a skill that you must learn, but you should remember that you have an automatic connection to the crowd: the music. Smile, be courteous and offer up your rejection with a side of nice. They’ll appreciate it and won’t label you as some four-letter word not worth their time.

I hope I helped you learn how to handle the crowd at DJ gigs. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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