Wedding Music

Should You Be Your Own Wedding DJ?

Photo by Leandro Donato

There are two main reasons to hire a DJ rather than a wedding band. The first is that it’s cool (depending on the DJ of course) and seems really modern. The second is that it will probably be cheaper. If this last is your main motive, then maybe you should go whole hog and consider being your own DJ. After all, once you assemble a playlist, all you really have to do is connect a laptop to a pair of speakers. That part isn’t exactly rocket science.

However, there are ten top secret rules that all DJs known and rarely speak about in public. For the first time ever, the Plunge is going rogue and exposing these little known rules (Editor’s note: these are less secret rules than general common-sense tips, but you get the idea).

1. Be Zen

Contrary to popular belief, becoming a DJ does not require hard work, hustle, time and effort.  In fact, you can become a DJ simply by silently deciding you are a DJ. This is a proven and effective route to overnight success. You don’t need any skills or talent, or the ability to do anything other than stand up right and poke your index finger with mild accuracy at a button labeled “play.”

Chances are you have already been a DJ for many years and may not have even realized it. That’s pretty Zen. It instantly makes you a worse DJ if you appear to be trying too hard. As the great Zen masters used to say, you should achieve everything while appearing to do nothing. However, it might help if you knew what DJs actually do before you decide to become one. Technically, a DJ is anyone who plays pre-recorded music for an audience. Have you ever played an iPod playlist at a cookout? Congrats, You are a DJ.

2. Read the Room

Being a good DJ is not really about matching beats, or scratching records behind your back. It’s about being in tune with the mood of the room. Far more important than owning a pair of Technics 1200s is having a sense of empathy. You must learn to read your audience, be reactive and stay one step ahead of the crowd, all while maintaining a facial attitude that says there is no way to measure the amount of fucks you don’t give.

3. Master the Art of Skulduggery

One important skill that all DJ’s must learn is how to keep the dance floor in a state of constant action. There are number of tricks to keep people’s feet moving. One is to install some highly conductive material under the dancefloor and then attach electrodes that send small bursts of electrical current into people’s feet, causing them to hop up and down in pain. The downside of this method is it requires ripping up the floor, which the venue probably won’t go for, and may kill some or all of your guests. For this reason, as a backup plan, you may also want to play some music people like to dance to.

4. Appear to be Semi-Famous

Most people like DJs because of who they are, rather than what they sound like.
For this reason, it is important to behave like a minor celebrity at all times. You must commit to this principle and stay in character.

For example, if any of your wedding guests approach you with a song request, immediately splash a drink in their face. If someone asks you to turn the music down, you must act as if they just suggested you commit genocide. Never under any circumstances take your sunglasses off–even many years after the wedding is over, and you are divorced and living in your car near an the abandoned railroad tracks at the edge of town. Remember: you are a DJ. You are cool. Everyone wants to talk to you. Especially that raccoon.

5. Everyone Owes You

In order to be a DJ, the most important thing is that you feel not only entitled but also have a giant chip on your shoulder. The world owes you, big time. After all, would radio stations even exist without DJs? No. And you are a DJ. So you have essentially invented radio. And, probably, the internet.

6. Stop Being So Nice

You aren’t winning any points by being friendly. Yes, this is your wedding, but you’re the one who wanted to be a DJ, and if you’re going to do it, for once in your life commit wholeheartedly and wipe that grin off your face. A DJ is like a supermodel or a Navy SEAL. Nobody wants you to smile. Everyone just wants you to look beautiful, kick ass, and then go have a cigarette while smoldering quietly inside.

7. Aim Low

Do you have stars in your eyes? Always dreamed of basking in the applause of a huge audience? Write these dreams down and then get rid of them. The most important credo among all DJs is that nothing worth doing in life requires any conviction, passion, or effort. If something becomes even mildly difficult, quit. In today’s world, standing out takes a lot of hard work. But, paradoxically, you cannot be a DJ and also like hard work. If you wanted to slave for years and master your craft, you would have learned to play oboe.

8. Are You A Natural?

Before you become a DJ, you should ask yourself whether you are really cut out for this. First you must be prepared to accept that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there are strobe lights. That’s it. There is no other downside. There is no hard work involved because technology has made the skills DJs used to learn (such as beat-matching—which means getting two tracks you’re mixing to play at the same tempo) obsolete. There is now literally nothing left for you to do other than get laid. But since this is your wedding, you can’t really do that, so there is nothing to do. Can you handle doing nothing? If so, then you are almost certainly a DJ.

9. Wave Your Hands in the Air Like You Just Don’t Care

This is perhaps the most difficult part of becoming a DJ. Sure, it’s easy to wave your hands in the air—the tricky part is doing it like you just don’t care. After all, if you really didn’t care, why would you bother to wave your hands in the air?

One tip used by professionals is to keep a slight bend at the elbows and limit your waving to a few inches side to side, lest your gestures be misconstrued for excitement or worse, enthusiasm. Second, it’s important to keep your eyes closed, as if maybe you have fallen asleep from the sheer boredom of it all, and you are now sleepwalking and sleep waving. This is a common medical disorder. Third, you must get the stance right: legs slightly akimbo, pants sagging, all grounded in a pair of very expensive sneakers which you have never sneaked anywhere in.

10. Gear Up

If you really want to get serious, it’s probably time to invest in some hardware.
You can start with a keyboard and mouse, but you will soon want to buy a more modern all-in-one controller. This will have everything you need to mix an entire set, including a built-in sound card and probably CDJ-style jog wheels.

If you are a super geek, you may want to consider assembling your own modular setup from any number of smaller controllers. You will then be tempted to splurge on something like the Pioneer CDJ-2000nexus, or at least something like the Denon DN-S3700. Then, you need to add an expensive mixer on top of that. Don’t forget the giant fashionable headphones.

Suddenly, you’re spending a lot of money, which defeats the entire purpose of DJing your wedding in the first place. So forget about being a DJ. At the first sign of any difficulty, you should give up. and let someone else do it. That’s the most DJ-ish thing you can do.

Bottom Line

If you truly want to DJ your wedding, you can. But you can’t, because true DJs don’t ever want anything. So just hire somebody and enjoy your wedding.

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