DJ Mineh Ishida

Professional DJ vs Ipod

Photo: Capitan Giona - Creative Commons

The world is changing.  These days, anyone with an ipod can play music that people can dance to, so many find themselves asking: “Why hire a professional DJ?”  There are several key reasons why a professional DJ is one of the most important investments in the success of your west coast swing dance or event.  While you may pay less for an amateur DJ,  the abilities of your DJ can determine how enjoyable your dance event is for yourself and your attendees — whether your dance floor stays packed all night long or whether everyone leaves the ballroom by 10:00 pm.

While it is certainly true that, like higher-quality photographers and top level dance professionals, a professional DJ company may not be your lowest bidder, here are a few good reasons to choose one anyway:


How much experience does the person responsible for the music at your event have with the equipment you’re running?  Interfacing with a professional sound board is not the same as hitting the play button on an ipod.  If something goes wrong, will your DJ be able to troubleshoot the sound board?  Does your DJ know how to handle the crowd if something goes wrong?  Does your DJ bring a backup audio source for the possible equipment failure?  Even using professional-grade equipment, an amateur DJ may not have sufficient knowledge to effectively use all those knobs and buttons to their best advantage. The resulting sound may not be much better than your boom box.  Additionally, he may not know how to “read” a crowd to play the right style of music that suits their tastes.

What will your Attendees remember?

When you ask people about the last event they attended, they will probably not talk about how cool the lighting was, or even in many cases who they danced with… They will remember the music.  This, to me, makes the case for spending more money on your DJ and cutting costs somewhere else.   West coast swing is probably one of the hardest situations to play music for.  It’s not like Cha-Cha, Salsa, Tango, Waltz or any of the other partner dances which has a defined music.  We like our variety, both in people and in music.  How can you please everyone?  To start with, you can hire a professional DJ.  Pro west coast swing DJs spend all of their time walking that line between blues and contemporary, different demographics, ages, and regions.  They have to learn to play the “compromise” that ensures that as many people as possible have a good time and good dances.  An amateur DJ may not yet understand that balance.


Will your DJ have the right equipment for the job?  Many people assume that an Ipod or laptop’s built in sound card provide audio sufficient for professional applications.  Truth is, when you play music over high quality PA systems, the differences in sound quality are magnified.  What may sound ok in your car, all of a sudden sounds flat and lifeless on a big PA system.  Professional DJs will have the right software, equipment, and backup equipment in place for the job.

Professionalism & Etiquette:

West coast swing events have their own culture.  Amateur DJs may not necessarily understand what can and cannot be played at an event.   Will they arrive early and be ready to play when their time slot comes up?  Will they maintain a professional demeanor as a representative of your staff throughout the weekend?

Music Selection:

Professional DJs maintain extensive libraries of past favorites as well as the newest trending songs on the circuit.  They know when to play blues & soul, vs contemporary and R&B.  They can transition between styles of music smoothly.  They know how to balance the music selection with a variety of tempos and styles to match the demographics of your audience.  They know when to take a request, and how to ignore one that would be detrimental to the rest of the dancers at an event.  They keep track of songs that are just the right tempo and length.  They know what songs are better for beginner dancers, and what songs are better for advanced dancers.  All of their music is cleaned of offensive language.  They know the BPMs (Beats per Minute) to play early in the evening to keep the energy up, and the BPMs to play late at night.  Most importantly, they understand that its not about personal taste in music, as much as the tastes of the entire group of dancers.

Not All DJs are created Equal:

If anyone could hook up an Ipod and hit play and DJ a great set, there would be no reason why anyone would know who Victor Loveira, Ruby Lair, or April Prince are.  They are paid to come to events all over the world because they consistently play good west coast swing music that makes people want to dance.  I think the fact that in a time where everyone has access to the same music, and the technology to play it, the fact that they are shipped around the world makes a good argument that having a professional DJ for your event makes all the difference.



About the Author:

DJ Mineh Ishida is a west coast swing DJ living in Tampa, FL.  He founded in 2012 and is passionate about contributing to the West Coast Swing community through DJing and his work with this website.  You can Find more information about DJ Mineh on the About Page.  For booking Inquiries, please use this Contact Form.