For DJs, our place of work is unique. From the cramped, musty, with sticky carpet variety to booths which resemble Ikea, if Ikea sold CDJs and fully stocked mini-bars, if you’re gigging, then the DJ booth is going to be your home for the rest of the evening, the helm from which you will navigate and direct the night’s adventures.
The golden rule when working in a DJ booth is to remember that it is a shared working space. Unless you’ve been booked to play the entire night then you’re going to be sharing the booth with other DJs and quite possibly their entourage too. Essentially, act like a professional and you’ll get on fine, and be way more likely to get booked again. Here are a few pointers:
- Do be a good, responsible citizen and bring a torch with you. You can use the one on your phone, except your battery will be on 2% at four am, so be a pro and bring one with you. One night you’ll be handing over to your DJ hero and you’ll save their ass by finding their USB drive with your little torch and you can thank us then.
- Don’t use the booth as a private party space for you and your squad, or for that matter, as a cloakroom/networking/Bluetooth hub either. Aside from making it difficult for any other DJ playing, it also makes it look as though you think your crew inside the booth are more important than those on the dance floor. They’re not.
- Do, if you’re playing any longer than a couple of hours, find out where the toilets are and how long they’ll take you to get to and from. Again, trust us on this one, one night, you’ll thank us.
- Don’t turn up half an hour early and start measuring the booth and putting up a plywood partition with brackets for your controller. Leave the DJ to do their thing, and make the changeover as smooth as possible.
- Which brings us neatly to the handover – how you manage this is entirely up to you. Some DJs simply stop the previous DJs track to announce their own arrival, which could be seen as a touch egotistical – after all, it’s the night that’s important, not the DJ. Others dive straight into the mix and get their own tune on within a few seconds. They then loop the previous track and tweak the EQ for 10 minutes making the previous DJ wait to get their tune back, which again might not be the most polite or professional approach. Unless what is playing when you get on is really awful, then generally the best practice would be to pick a couple of tunes that fit in with what’s gone before and which also set you up to do your thing. I think they call this DJing.
Finally, we all know that the most nerve-wracking time for any DJ is the first minute of two of any gig, before you settle into it. This is when the DJs brain often briefly stops working and they for a moment, utterly forget how to work the mixer or what any of their tunes are. You can see it, even with the pros sometimes – a shaking hand usually gives it away. Get them a drink, and make sure they’re not staring at the mixer in a wild-eyed panic because you left the high pass filter on and they haven’t worked it out yet, and ensure that your brother/sister in rhythm is all set to go. Then you just need to get the hell out of the booth because your time is done.
Featured image via Thump