A podcast was recently shared titled ‘What if more Facilitators mastered the art of DJing’ by Howard Gray and this resonated with me so I thought I would share my thinking based on the fact that for a number of years I have been both, some may be similar to what Howard shared.

I’ve DJ’ed at parties and events since mid-1980’s, and occasionally still get asked to play even now and I have been a Facilitator since 1984 and the cross-over is actually more pronounced than many would think, and lessons can be learnt from one to the other.

When DJing and beginning to think about what you will play live it’s a good first step to know your client and key stakeholders before you design and build your set-list. It is useful to know what the event/party is actually for; a birthday, another celebration or just a good old party. What they do like and not like, what they might want you to play and not play, do or not do.

It’s also really useful to know your venue in advance, I’ve been caught out in some places where the DJ is placed in random inaccessible areas or spaces where the acoustic doesn’t work well, you just can’t get the sound right and you can’t even see the room/space properly.

I have also been caught out with having the right or wrong equipment, turned up with vinyl to find they only have CD decks, so be sure to understand what will be available before you arrive!

And of course, knowing your whole audience is pretty key; what will they like, what will they want to dance to and what will they definitely not dance to?! Who is in the room, where do they come from and who are they?

It is rare for one DJ to play the whole evening/party, in fact more often than not you are part of a DJ team, each playing a different set and different time slot. It is really important to know what will come before you and what will come after, the hand offs and transitions are important. And of course, your opening number or track, the bulk of your set and your final song are all equally as important.

BUT, most importantly is the ability to read the mood of the room, what’s happening in the here and now, are the people enjoying the set, are they dancing and participating, is it just a small minority that are up and dancing, are others being left out by your choices, are they just going through the motions but not really enjoying the music, has the mood shifted for the better or worse? You have to be prepared to find a different song, adapt to the crowd, play what they want to hear not what you want to play and sometimes that means changing tune mid-track. I’ve seen many a dance floor emptied because the DJ stuck to their set and what they want to play and lose the room!

As a DJ you do need to design your set, plan ahead, have a structure, have a great entry and exit and build to a crescendo, have a contingency plan and some back-up music in case you need to adapt and flex to the room and you’ll have a happy crowd.

Here’s a summary of the similarities I found that cross-over the roles of DJ and Facilitator:

• Know and work with your client and key stakeholders
• What is the purpose of the event and the best possible outcome for this particular crowd?
• Know your audience; who will be there, where do they come from and what do they want. How do you want them to feel and be during and after?
• Know and work with your space, what will work in it and what won’t?
• Be sure you are on top of your equipment and tools, be clear what you’ll need and have it available
• Be aware of what has come before and what will follow
• Read the room, the mood, the movement, the dynamic, the thinking, feeling and behaviour
• Be prepared to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the room and the people in it, has the mood shifted for the better or worse
• Are you working with others, know what they will bring and what role they will play? How will you plan your transitions and hand-offs between sets or processes?
• Design and plan your ‘set’ or process(es), have a clear plan and structure, have a contingency plan and back-up, design a great entry, middle and exit

If you would like to know more about how circleindigo can help design, plan and ‘play’ at your event then contact us at info@circleindigo.com or visit us at www.circleindigo.com and if you ever need a DJ that plays modern and northern soul, modern jazz and the occasional set of original oldies from the heyday of the late seventies, early eighties well…….

Gary Austin.