10 August 2010
It is, of course, “the warm-up slot”.
What those scoffers don’t or didn’t realise is that this is the most magnificent stage of self expression any DJ can have outside of the super star DJ status. Warm-up, warm-down; so many possibilities so such potential. So many slots to fill. A certain freedom is obtained by choosing the warm up or warm down. Gone are the normal strictures of one or two hour sets. Running a club in Canterbury we'd be there a 9pm setting up backdrops, lights, the rig and from the second we walked in I'd have the decks sparked up and music playing. That's the moment the warm up DJ set begins. By the time the other tVC DJ's arrived I could have played for 3 or 4 hours. At the after party I could be playing, depending on how many other DJ's showed, from 3am till till late afternoon or beyond. At the free parties, where music went on 24 hours a day for up to 3 days sometimes, 15 hour sets were not unusual. Here is a chance to explore your record box, or hard drive now, properly. Digging out those nuggets and lost gems is indeed a joy to behold. To play in this fashion is to experience being "played out" in it's most intense meaning.
By the time they’ve done all that (un)necessary but exhausting process they’re probably gagging for a drink and thinking about finding somewhere to sit down that is both roomy enough to get all their party around but sufficiently close to the dance floor so that they can have access if a tune they like is playing. Of course being near the rig but not too near is important too, as is proximity to the toilets but not too near and near the bar but not too near and they want to be away from any major traffic routes through the club.
So, DJ’s here’s rule number one; don’t dive straight into your favourite bombs as soon as the doors open; avoid cranking the rig and the BPM’s up as far as they will go and then stand there wondering why people aren’t responding at 10pm filling the floor with their hands in the air whistling for more. You will most certainly receive a certain level of hostility, albeit, polite from the promoter and the crowd.
On the other hand if you are a DJ and the promoter doesn’t understand this basic concept and is banging on at you “C’mon, people are showing up now, MAKE THEM DANCE!!!” you have to politely explain that you have to get people tapping their toes first and go from there gradually. Once the room hits a critical mass where that first person starts dancing, THEN you pick it up some more. You don’t just dump the hits before people are ready, but you do have to nudge them in that direction, too.
What is better? To create a dancing mood out of thin air or to smash a dance floor into pieces?
People need to put their superstar DJ egos aside and remember: you play FOR the crowd and take them on hours of a musical journey.
Here’s one DJ, Phil Morse, from the excellent http://www.digitaldjtips.com/ explaining how he does it for the “foot tappers” (2)
“Playing warm-up, say 10-1 on a club night that’s open 10-4. There’s no pressure to play the big tunes, YOU (kind of) decide when things “kick off”, and there is more skill in building than just ‘holding it there’.
Another thing to factor in is the smoking ban! Things can be going really well but you can still lose people for no apparent reason. They will be going outside for a cigarette.