October 12, 2016
Organising a party of any sort is always fraught with worries about finding the best supplier for each particular job. Personal recommendations do much to give confidence, and rightly so. But you can also arrange a tasting with a caterer. A venue stylist can show you photographs of previous events. The proof of a photographer’s skill is visible in their portfolio. And the DJ? Short of gatecrashing a party at which they are appearing, booking one can be a bit hit and miss – and can have a serious impact on the success of your event.
These days it’s very easy for someone to buy a cheap set of speakers, stock up on some flashing lights and load a laptop full of free-to-download music – pack it into a hatchback and another mobile DJ is doing the rounds. Quite apart from the quality of equipment having an effect on the quality of sound, a DJ’s experience and knowledge is incredibly important. At Inside Outside we work with several DJs who have an extensive track record (excuse the pun!) in the industry, and we spoke to Tom Baker of Splendid Sounds to find out more about how a good DJ keeps the party going.
Tom says: “It takes years of experience to know what songs to avoid, how to select the right tune at the right time and when to quickly mix out of something that isn’t working so that we keep the dance floor full.” He also warns that experience isn’t everything: “It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good. With enough marketing and advertising, a poor DJ can do the wrong thing for years and years.”
Trust your DJ!
So choosing a reputable DJ is the first step. The next is the playlist itself. We all have our favourite bands and music. Certain songs become the soundtracks to special times in our lives. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll want to include songs that mean something to you. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is a great track, but play it at a party and the dancefloor will be full of tumbleweed rather than guests strutting their funky stuff. Your taste in music is just that – yours. It’s not necessarily to the taste of all your guests. And this is where you have to learn to trust your DJ. Tom always advises clients that it’s better to hear a song that isn’t their favourite and be surrounded by a sea of friends having the time of their lives on the dance floor, rather than their favourite tune sending everyone scuttling back to their seats or the bar.
If a DJ suggests you submit long lists of your favourite music and promises to play everything, be wary. The very best DJs know how to get a party going – and keep it going – with tried and tested tunes. They can read the mood of a marquee full of people and are able to make quick decisions about what track should come next – and it may not always be what they originally planned. It’s all about being responsive, rather than behaving like a jukebox, simply churning out one song after another. A good DJ can build atmosphere and energy, which makes each subsequent track work and keeps everyone dancing.
Do you do requests?
This is not to say that clients can’t have a say in what’s played. Tom usually suggests clients provide three lists. The first is a list of ‘must play’ songs, maybe 20 tracks that the client loves. The next is a list of songs the client would like to hear if the DJ thinks they will work on the night – this list can be as long as you want. And the final list is ‘the black list’, the songs that must be avoided – no matter how many times Uncle John, who has got a little too tipsy, asks for The Birdie Song.
Ultimately, it comes down to trust in the person you’ve booked. Tom sums it up perfectly: “Would you expect your catering company to work with a list of ingredients you’ve selected after leafing through your collection of cookery books?” Probably not. Relax. Make sure you’re wearing your dancing shoes and dance the night away with your guests.
Inside Outside works with a wide range of trusted suppliers to make your party or special event a success from beginning to end. Call us on 01372 459485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to start discussing dates.