Preparing your set is key! If you want to move the crowd, you'll need to spend time before the gig getting your crates organized. Try to find out as many details as you can about the type of event you'll be playing at and what type of music you will need to play. Your music should be in playlists that are easy to find and well organized. You don't want to waste any time at the gig looking for tracks! Have a plan in mind for the type of set you are going to be playing, but be open to going with the flow when the dance floor is in front of you.
2. Play to the Crowd
Once you're at the venue, make sure you visually connect with the people on the dance floor so you can see how they react to your music. If you find they're starting to shake their hips to a certain style of record, try playing more in that style and see what the reaction is. The crowd will reward you when you play tracks they enjoy, but you'll only be aware of this if you are paying attention to what's going on. If you play a track that clears the floor, take note of this and make a swift recovery by quickly switching it up.
3. Pick Up the Pace
If you're playing tracks with a slower bpm, you may find the energy in the room starts to lag. Try playing a few tracks that have faster bpms and see how the crowd reacts. The slower records might not be so danceable, but tracks with higher bpms and great grooves may be exactly what people need to start stomping their feet.
4. Pay Attention to the Charts
Pay attention to the charts, regardless of the genre you play. Even if you're not a Top 40/Open Format DJ who needs to play the latest Billboard singles, your crates should include a few of the current heavy hitters from the genre(s) you play. If you're having a tough time getting your dance floor going, try putting on a few well known joints or remixes of current big tracks and see how the dance floor reacts. Chances are you'll have them dancing the night away once they hear a few tunes they know and love!
5. Mix the Unknown with the Tested and True
Once you've got that dance floor grooving with a few hits, you can gently encourage the crowd to open up to lesser known (yet still rocking) tracks. Keep the energy up by playing a few new tunes you think the crowd will enjoy dancing to and then one or two more well-known tracks. If the audience hears a track they know every couple of songs, they're more likely to stay on the dance floor and enjoy themselves for your entire set.
6. Do More Than Just Play Music
Get the dance floor moving and excited about the music by using everything you've got! Make creative use of technology and use FX tastefully during your set. You don't have a to be a choreography master yourself, but if you're grooving behind the decks, then your audience may get into the music more as a result. You can also use hand claps, hand waves and gestures to encourage the crowd to really get going.
7. Back in Time
There's a time during most sets for the old school jams, and its up to you, Maestro, to carefully discern when the time is right to play the classic tracks. There's nothing like a few tunes from the good 'ol days that are tastefully played during the mix to turn up the dance floor heat. Its all about the timing here.
Have fun rocking the crowd and here's hoping you you move and inspire every dance floor you play!
Photography by: Mark Mussington http://markamussington.smugmug.com/
Photography by: Daniel A Betts, DBI Photography : http://www.dbiphotography.com/