Should you be a dance club DJ?: A conceptual flow chart

We have all been there: the kaleidoscope of lights, the music loud enough to puncture your eardrums, the drink flowing aplenty, but somehow you’re still sitting apathetically at the bar. With the scene set perfectly, how is it possible to not have fun? The answer comes down to one variable: the all-powerful DJ. They might be playing something like a country song or J. Cole and there’s not enough liquid vibe in the world to get you hype. Or worse, they might put on your favorite song and just as the first verse is ending and you are gaining momentum, they change it unexpectedly, leaving you to sulk back to the seats. Either way, I have compiled a comprehensive flow chart that tests the conceptual understanding of music to dance to that all DJs must grasp before they can give themselves the coveted title.

Dance Club DJ Flowchart

(Flow chart created by Bradley Harrison)

So, If you’re an aspiring/current Dance Club DJ, the things you should take away from this flow chart are simple:

Don’t change the song too quickly! Daft Punk teaches us to keep a consistent rhythm. We want to dance and we can’t dance if the beat keeps being switched. If you feel like people will get bored with a song before it is finished, maybe that song isn’t good enough to be played in the first place.

Daft Punk Performing (Photo courtesy of André Felipe on Flickr Creative Commons)

Daft Punk Performing (Photo courtesy of André Felipe on Flickr Creative Commons)

It’s okay to play old school classics! We all have those songs from our younger days that made us jump out of our beds and dance around the room. For me, these songs are any old school Lil Wayne, DMX or anything I mention in this article. Chances are, if we hear these songs in the club, they will have the same effect as they did when we first grew to love them. This is called nostalgic hype and is a useful tool in creating energy.

Awesome Lil Wayne Fireman Picture (Photo courtesy of iloveyou1972 on Flickr Creative Commons)

Awesome Lil Wayne Fireman Picture (Photo courtesy of iloveyou1972 on Flickr Creative Commons)

Play the super indie/niche dance music bands! The hype-est I ever got in a club was when LCD Soundsystem came on. When it happened, the friend I was with looked at me with wide eyes, awe and excitement and said, “I’ve been waiting my entire life to hear LCD Soundsystem in a bar.” Right after that the DJ played Grimes, which we had listened to in the car on the way there. It was glorious. If you play bands like these, chances are you’ll make a few people’s nights. Plus, even the people who don’t recognize it will be able to dance, because that’s why the music was made.

Grimes - Øyafestivalen 2013 (Photo courtesy of NRK P3 on Flickr Creative Commons)

Grimes – Øyafestivalen 2013 (Photo courtesy of NRK P3 on Flickr Creative Commons)

Finally, when in doubt… YEEZY (or “Hotline Bling“). Now go out there and command that club.

Kanye West - Øyafestivalen 2011 (Photo courtesy of NRK P3 on Flickr Creative Commons)

Kanye West – Øyafestivalen 2011 (Photo courtesy of NRK P3 on Flickr Creative Commons)

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Bradley Harrison is a senior at College of Charleston. After a long and painful stint as an engineering student at a university in Georgia which you probably have never heard of, he has decided to come back home to his native Charleston and study Spanish and Education. As a keen observer of pop culture, he loves art house cinema, Pitchfork.com, and the Ringer. FOH Army for life.


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