Those Who Dance Look Crazy To.Those Who Cannot.Heae The Music How to DJ Like a Pro – Learn to Read the Crowd and Whip Up a Dance Floor Frenzy

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How to DJ Like a Pro – Learn to Read the Crowd and Whip Up a Dance Floor Frenzy

Tune into the crowd. They can feel it when you can. When your heart beats faster and you’re excited, they can feel it too. No one knows exactly why, they just can. The key point is, it AIN’T SCIENCE! We don’t understand everything in this world. We can only try to feel what we can’t understand.

When you whip up the floor, the energy bounces off the crowd back to you and then you bounce it right back. Some people have the natural ability to tune in, others take longer but get it eventually. It’s like you’re dancing with the audience, reacting to each other’s movements.

Reading their vibes and picking up their signals is the first part, knowing how to react is the second part. What’s that girl who’s dancing away doing? Can you follow up this tune with something even better?

Here are the top tips for reading and reacting to crowds:

1. Pay attention to their reactions

When you play out, you’ll have to pay a fair amount of attention to your mix and your choice of music. However, just as importantly, remember to watch your crowd and to try to read their reactions too. By this I mean taking regular looks at your punters, feeling the atmosphere and adapting your music to it. Do you have more girls than boys? Do they look more bling, more rave or more indie? When you try out that new electro tune do they start smiling and perking up, some of them jigging a bit? If so, try more of that style.

The way people react to different styles you try on them is key to knowing what musical path to follow. This doesn’t mean following every request every drunk girl makes to play Abba or Whitney Houston, but it does mean that you’re playing for the crowd and you should play what they want, not what you want. You’re not DJing for yourself.

2. Know your musical styles

Pretty obvious you may say. Not really in fact, you’d be surprised. The best DJs have a wealth of different styles and a back up for anything that may not go as planned. That is to say, do not turn up with just a single musical style in your repertoire. Don’t play house and have nothing else to play when you’ve been asked to play in a place where house clearly doesn’t go down well. Experiment with other styles and when you get a positive reaction, it means you’re on the path to a better night.

If you’re playing in an indie place, don’t play techno. You’ll get ideas from the look of the people about their musical tastes. Get into the habit of guessing what music people enjoy and trying it out on them. Of course, this all comes down to knowing your music well enough, which you can read our tips on right here.

3. Check out the venue beforehand

When it’s possible, check out a venue you’ve been asked to play in. Visualize yourself behind the decks. See what kind of people hang out there and spend time having a drink, maybe talking to people. Make friends with and chat to the bar staff and bar owners. Bar staff occasionally display a surprisingly good knowledge of music due to the numerous DJs they get to see and hear and the reactions they observe to them. They can also tell you what kind of crowd will be in the night you are programmed to play on.

Get the feeling and vibe of the crowd, see what music they dance to. For DJs who are travelling to another city to play where they’ve never played before, this obviously doesn’t apply. In this case, it’s better to talk to the promoter or club owner on what kind of style should go down well.

4. Girls or boys?

Check the girls and the boys carefully when DJing, especially the girls. Why? Because when the girls dance the boys follow. You know how it is. The main hot tip here is get the girls to dance. They lead the dancing, the boys do too, that means (nearly) everyone is dancing. For some reason, it’s nicer when girls dance, it gives off a more positive vibe.

So when you get to that point in the night when you have to get people moving (if you’re playing in a club or party) then think of the ladies. They tend to favour lighter music with more emotion and with vocals as opposed to harder tunes.

5. Be ready to play outside your circle

If you followed our precious advice on knowing your music for DJing, then you’ll be up on this. That means you have everything in your collection, even cheese. “But I don’t play cheese” you protest. You don’t have to play cheese. You do have to be ready to go outside your realm and play music that you may not like.

I once turned up at a club in Paris and the owner was pretty sure about what he wanted. He explained right away that he wanted well known, accessible tunes. He didn’t care for the latest cool Simian Mobile Disco remix and such, he wanted favourites.

Now I didn’t do exactly what he wanted, I gave the night my own twist. That meant that I played some cheese, but I used that cheese to get people on my wavelength. At that point, we established a rapport because they knew that the DJ understood what they liked, so they opened out.

Dropping the odd cheese bomb was fine by me, after all, everyone danced in there. Once they got going, they were more receptive to other, different tunes which I could happily drop, confident that they’d continue dancing. Guess what? I got asked back there several times and the owner really insisted I play again. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it though as I had other gigs lined up.

The message is: dare to play music you don’t particularly like when you’re DJing as well. The important thing is that people are happy and dance.

Having the will power to be able do this will get you a better reputation and improved gigs. Who cares if on occasions you drop a cheese bomb, it won’t be like that all the time. Remember, it’s about what they like, not just about what you like.

6. React to them

When you’ve been struggling for a bit and people aren’t really dancing to what you put on only then they suddenly go unexpectedly crazy to your next tune, make sure you react to them accordingly. When the dancefloor bursts into life, that’s a sure sign the last tune you played is right up their street. That means the next tune you play should be a reaction to that; you have to try to keep them on the floor now for as long as you can. Not always easy, but you can do it.

Follow up that last rooflifter with another tune which is in some way similar to the previous one. Not identical, but similar in some aspect, whether it’s the style, the energy, the BPM or the key. Give your set some shape and flow and take your people on a musical journey of enjoyment. One last important thing: Have some FUN!

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