DJ Mineh Ishida

Top 5 things you can avoid to keep your DJ happy

Photo: seanmasn - Creative Commons

Professional DJs spend a lot of time balancing their playlists, trying to keep all the dancers dancing and happy.  Sometimes however, people approach the DJ booth and take certain actions that make the DJ’s job harder.  This article addresses the top 5 things that you can do to help keep your DJ happy and playing great west coast swing music!

1. What songs do you have?

DJ’s spend many hours collecting music from all over.  A typical DJ will have at least 1000 west coast swing songs, and most will have many more.  Its much better to ask the DJ to pick a song of a certain genre or style than to ask him what music he has.  For example, instead of “What songs do you have?” try phrasing your request like so:  “I’d like to dance to a fast blues… can you try to fit one into your set?”

Then again, I suppose you could sit there and listen to the DJ list off thousands of songs?

2. Can you play a Salsa/ChaCha/Tango/Lambada/etc?

Like any professional, DJs are hired to do a job.  If they don’t do the job right, they won’t be rehired.  Many people who are cross trained in other dances will ask a west coast swing DJ to play a non swing genre of dance. Chances are, unless the dance is specifically a crossover dance, or has a culture of variety in their sets, they weren’t hired to do so.  That means that while they may try to take your request, doing so may put them in jeopardy of not being rehired.

If the primary billing of the event is as a west coast swing event, and the dance does not already have a culture of playing non-swing dance music, it is most likely not appropriate to ask for these things, as it is not the DJs call to make.  A much better way to approach this would be to tell the event director or planner “You know what would be great? If we played a few cha chas periodically through the evening.. What do you think?” and then leave that decision up to them.  Of course there are sometimes exceptions… WOBBLE!!!!

3. Here… Play this!

When people  run to the DJ booths with a phone or ipod, thrust it at the DJ, and tell him to play the song queued up on it… Chances are the DJ will politely refuse.  Here’s why he won’t play it:

  • No idea what quality the song is.. where was it downloaded from? Is it the whole song?
  • Is it a clean version? or do we <beep> have to <beep> that <beep> off?
  • Will you get a … Hold on.. your phone is ringing… good thing your ring tone is a good west coast swing song!

4. I need a song, but I don’t know what it is.

It goes like: “Baaaa da da da dooooom” and it has like… a beat… and someone is singing on it… you know? That SONG!  Try to be more specific.  If you can remember any lyrics, when it was released, who did a famous west coast swing routine to it, what the song was about? Remember that most west coast swing DJs track thousands of songs, so the more information you give him, the better the chances are that he’ll be able to find your song.

5. Hey look!  That DJ table looks like a good place to set a drink!

Laptop..$1000, Professional Audio Interface..$200, Mixing Board: $200-1000, Hours organizing music, setting up software, etc.. 100+… ONE DRINK KNOCKED OVER AT THE DJ TABLE…You get the idea.

Ultimately, try to remember that the DJ is doing his best for YOU.  His job involves balancing the tastes of everyone in the room, and there might be a few songs that you don’t like.  Try to keep an open mind.  Usually, the people who are most open minded about the music being played, learn to like new styles west coast swing music, and have the most fun!

About the Author:

DJ Mineh Ishida is a west coast swing DJ living in Tampa, FL.  He founded WestCoastSwingMusic.com 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.