How to make people dance as a DJ

Getting people on the dance floor can be a frustrating thing if you are an impatient DJ like me. No matter what some DJs and people think, DJing is an art form. It involves you creating your own unique formula that works when getting a crowd dancing to your DJ set. It comes down to playing the right music at the right time and knowing what makes people dance. In this blog, I will reveal what I have learnt during my experience as a Melbourne DJ.

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Build trust through your music

This is probably one of the most important things you can do to understand, what can get people in the mood at the beginning of your DJ set, “building trust with your music”. To get people to dance, we have to learn to become patient by playing music with the right tempo, groove and rhythm that will make people get into the right mood from the start of our DJ set.

What I have learnt is that easing people into the night is essential for the same crowd to remain standing and engaged until the end of your set and not have them walk off before you drop bigger and better music. It pays to have the volume lower at the start of your set to bring the volume up at the peak of your set. It’s also great to start off with music that has a slower rhythmic pattern that is somewhat catchy and repetitive, perhaps even somewhat familiar.

Hands in the air type of music or any music that has too long of a breakdown or loss of momentum is a sure way to turn people off and lose their attention.
When that happens, it is hard to get them in the zone. Think of it like this, would you  
try to sell your music to a person that has never heard of you before, or would you give them free music first before asking them to buy a track from you, enabling them to get to know, like and trust you?

The same applies when playing to an audience; you must earn their trust and continue to build it through your set. Patience makes a great DJ.

Know the music that gets them going

As I have stated before, the right tempo, rhythm and groove determines their mood and gets them dancing. However, it is not just playing what they want from the get-go; it is about teasing them from the start into the middle of your DJ set. It is all about total energy control and it comes from experience or watching other DJs you admire that can pull it off. The hands in the air or chart hit music should not quite enter into play yet, however, it is approaching. Once people have been dancing and the crowd is building, your aim should be to get them into the zone halfway through your set.

Only then you will know from reading body language it will be time to unleash and drop the tracks they are waiting to hear. This is the hardest part I believe of any DJs role - getting them into the zone. It’s easy to give people what they want; there is no skill required in that. If that were the case, there would be no need for DJs and you would just have a jukebox.

Having the crowd in the zone

This is when it’s time to explode or play the tracks we have been dying to play from the get-go. However, this can be a safe zone. Although we know we have the crowd where we want them, and we can give them what we want, it takes a great DJ to take a risk and play the tracks no one has heard of before. This takes courage, confidence and an inner knowing of what generally works for certain musical elements like bass drops, melodies, harmonies and vocal tracks. Your best time to get creative and surprise people is during the last half of your set.

Give them something they know twice in a row then give them something completely different; this will enhance the chances of them liking the third song they have never heard of before. If you gave it to them straight away, there would be a far greater chance they might not like it as much. The take away is to make the most of the momentum in your set to expand on creativity and unfamiliarity to stretch your sound/style and become more unique by pushing the boundaries.

To me, that is what DJing is all about. ;)

What has worked for you?

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Posted on October 10, 2016 and filed under DJ skills.