It seems a long time ago, but there was something called a 7” single this was solid vinyl disc and had music pressed into both sides, up to 4 minutes of music per side. The top 100 hit singles of the week was made up from the number of sales of these 7” singles. Although hard wearing, they got scratched & damaged so they would not play or jump & skipped across to the end.

As a DJ, you had to carry the top 40 singles at least, plus Rock 'n' Roll, Disco, Motown, Ska, Mod, Reggae, Glam Rock, Rock, Slowies, and as the years went by Punk, New Wave, Soul, Funk, Jazz Funk, Rave, House, Garage, Handbag House. If you worked the pubs & clubs you needed to have Irish music, Scottish music, waltz & foxtrots for the over 60’s, specialty songs like  “Happy Birthday”, “Anniversary waltz”, "Congratulations", Glen Miller, & Andrew Sisters . You carried it all on 7” or 12” LP’s up to 2000 records, to every gig just in case someone asked for a particular song. You couldn't download extra songs you needed from the internet (what internet?), you had to have them with you, even if you left them in the van to get if needed.

As a DJ, part of the job was to talk between the records, you had to introduce the evening & welcome everyone, introduce the event holder, yourself, schedule of events, first dance, talk to the guests, play requests, introduce the band, last orders at the bar & good night safe journey home. Microphone technique was paramount, a high quality microphone was essential. Mixing between records on 2 record players in the early days was never easy; there weren’t any variable speed decks to adjust the speed up or down. You had to talk over the mix between the 2 tracks to hide the difference in the BPM’s, all the while starting the new song before the end of the last song, including the half turn before the music to allow for the deck to get to 45rpm, cross fading the music & talking coherently. Most DJ's had the microphone on a stand, so you had both hands free to operate the decks, mixer & lights.

As a DJ, you were expected to know your music, you would practice at home all different type of mixes. You had to learn how to beat match, how to work out the Beats Per Minute of a record by counting the beats in 10 seconds and multiplying by 6, or beats in 30 seconds & multiplying by 2. You knew where the best place to cut a song, where to bring in a song. You spent hours in record shops listening to the latest releases, trying to guess what will be popular. You knew what music would work & what didn’t, you knew how to handle difficult punters, and the idiot who wants “Led Zeppelin’s - Stair Way to Heaven” played when everyone’s up dancing. You knew when to slow down the music, so dancers could get drinks, (it’s a natural ebb & flow). You watched your punters early in the evening for hints to what would get them on the dance floor.

As a DJ, you learned about your lighting, you checked it before the gig or carried spares, you used different styles of lighting for different tempos (flashing lights during slow numbers looks wrong) As does all your lights going flat out early in the evening, it's a waste of effect. We didn’t have smoke machines or LED or DMX control or computer controlled. We had boxes of colored lights wired in patterns behind perspex & with sides painted matt black. Usually we had made the light boxes at home in our garage. These were either 3 or 4 channel sequenced or sound to light controlled. In bigger venues we used flood lights or PAR cans with colored gels as well as the light boxes. If you could afford it you could get PAR36 pin spots that made a thin beam of light which cut through the smokey atmosphere. Smoking was allowed inside back then and most rooms didn’t have any ventilation, by ten o’clock there was a thick smog that pin spots looked great through. All the light boxes & flood lights you had to transport to the venue & the records so a small van was required.

As a DJ, your speakers were big, no, really big, as most speaker cabinets were placed on the ground, you needed larger and larger cabinets to get the sound to travel in a big venue, 1000 watts rms was the usual output. This required a large heavy amplifier to drive them. Then there was the double decks & mixer you needed, and finally a couple of fold down tables to put it all on, and lights for searching through the 10 crates / boxes of records, lots of extension leads for the power, extra long extension lead for when you have to set up where there aren't any power sockets near by. Speaker wiring, lighting cables, balloons to be used under the decks as a anti - bounce mechanism against sprung floors. Business cards, pens & paper for requests. Clean clothes for the event, which could be jeans & t-shirt for a pub night, trousers & shirt for a private party, shirt & tie with trouser for a wedding, right up to a bow tie & dinner suit for a top occasion.

Now I suppose you want to know what this is about. It's young mobile DJ's that now don't seem to care. They sit behind their computer playing anything you want (because they have no idea themselves) they spend more time texting than watching the crowd. Constantly having to ask the party people what to play is not being a DJ, that's a jukebox. Not using the microphone to get some sort of rapport with the crowd, then you're just a jukebox. Just because you have over ten thousand songs on your computer does not make you a DJ, (by the way so does a jukebox). If you don't know about genres of music, how can you change the music to suit the crowd.

Yes I know that Pete Tong, etc are classed as DJ's but they are performance artists who know their music back to front and have a very short set to perform, the crowd is already warmed up and dancing by the time they start their set. Ask them where they started and it'll be as a mobile DJ with all the chat and music knowledge.

If you want to be a rave DJ then go and do it, don't try to be mobile DJ. Mobile DJ's have to work hard, get there early, look good, be presentable, know all types of music, they can use a microphone, and have a personality.

If your looking to book a DJ, go and see him work, go and see him at the same sort of function that you require him for. Being good in the local pub where all the regulars know the DJ & the DJ knows the twenty songs he needs to play every week to keep the punters happy is not the same as working your function. Have a rough playlist as a guide of what you want and see if he knows them? See if he can suggest other tunes you may want?  If not get someone who does.

YES, you do get what you pay for, if it's cheap then chances are it's rubbish. If you're having  a special evening, such as  A 70's Night, 60th birthday, wedding anniversary, get some one who knows the music you want. "A wedding needs a DJ who can carry the evening, make announcements, get all age ranges up and dancing. Think back to the last wedding or party you went to, do you remember what everyone was wearing? what the buffet was like? or do you remember how everyone danced all night, how you didn't want it to end. That's the difference, anyone can put records on, but a good DJ can read the room and get people up and dancing". (Thanks to Mike Hemmings BIG APPLE ROADSHOW for the above quote).

If you give a playlists to a DJ, keep it short, you don't need to specify every record for the night, if you want to do that, then get a Jukebox/ Ipad / Laptop. If you've done your research right for  the DJ, then just let the DJ run the evening for you, it's your night you should be out front dancing & enjoying...

By the way, I have no interest in being a DJ again,( I have had an offers !). I do not buy, sell or rent out jukeboxes. But I do go to lots of functions, and a Bad DJ = A Bad Night.



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