Choosing what to play isn't just a matter of sussing out the dancefloor..
The subject of many discussions over the years. Warm up, main slot, following on from the main slot, they all demand a bit of thought. For me personally I think you need a natural instinct for programming sets, if you need to learn it then I would argue becoming a DJ is not for you. A bit of research across the net throws up how to's that have flow diagrams to accompany the step by step guides, all I guess a result of the mass market availability of DJ hardware and software for laptops / phones.. remember when it was solely the Technics 1210?
It always pays to plan and by that I do not mean work out a sequence of records to play on the night I mean sort your music, what are you going to play for that specific set. No good wading in with all the big tracks when your warming up for a headliner is it? It pays to work out a selection of suited tracks, then its worth considering rough BPM, Key - its become more popular to mix harmonically over the years, tempo - important of course because your either setting the mood or following on from the previous DJ, you don't want to interrupt the flow of the night with a random track that puts the dancefloor on its arse. Much of the basics seem to be lost sometimes, its so easy to get a pair of decks set up in your bedroom and announce to the world 'I'm a DJ'.. Whether that's good or bad is of course debatable and a discussion for another time. The second 'Secret DJ' book is a great read with a chapter exploring the whole white collar / bedroom DJ phenomena and its rather damaging effects on the DJ industry as a whole, highly recommend that. At the end of the day without planning, programming and practising you open yourself up to the pitfalls of error and you'll then find yourself making excuses like 'I didn't use a sync button' or 'it was live and on the fly' or as I saw one DJ imply the other day 'sets that are fluid are boring and without soul'.. yeah right mate. Don't get me wrong we all make mistakes but making mistakes because you don't plan, programme and practise that's a no no. Here we have an article from DJ magazine, Roger Sanchez and Graeme Park talking all about the importance of planning and programming in 1992, its 30 years old but the basics are there.
Don't try and copy anyone else.. do your own thing.. Graeme Park
Article first appeared in DJ magazine - April 1992