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Magazine » March April 2013 Issue » Questions to Ask Your DJ

Questions to Ask Your DJ

Maria McStravick St. John

Are you getting what you want or need from your current music director? For many chapters, issues with the music or DJ seem to be at the top of the list of concerns. This is incredibly unfortunate, as you can have a dance without food, decorations, special lighting, experienced dancers, or even a proper venue; however, you truly cannot have a dance without music. It can quickly make or break your event. The DJ can be a tool to increase your membership and improve the attitudes and appreciation of the members, or the DJ can drive people away.

Whether you pay your DJ or you have a motivated volunteer, you want to have the best person for the job. Most people believe anyone can turn on a CD player or i-Pod and crank out some good ballroom tunes just through sheer enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is definitely very important; however, much more is needed to be a good DJ and to have a well-run, successful dance.

To start this process, you need to know who you are and what you want.

You should already know or get to know what your current demographics are for your organization: age ranges of members, level of dancers, styles, musical preferences, and other relevant information.
There are numerous ways to assess this information of your ballroom dance community. These can be as simple as informal, visual observations over some period of time at your events. They can be as formal as polling or surveying your organization members. You can also attend dances at successful chapters and interview them to determine how they became successful.

Next, ask yourself the following questions: Are you currently successful? Are you happy with the status quo, or do you see the need for change? What is the general philosophy of your club? What are your goals? Do you want to change in any way such as be more social-oriented, more partner-oriented, or more competition-oriented?

Once you have done this self-examination, you are ready to talk to your current or prospective DJ(s). Below are a series of representative questions that you can ask that should give you keen insight into how your music director or volunteer will work with your organization.

1. What is your background? Why did you decide or want to become a DJ?
2. Describe your music library.
3. What is your ballroom knowledge?
4. What equipment do you have/ use?
5. What is your general philosophy about running a dance?
6. What is your backup plan?
7. What kind of relationship do you have with the local dance community?
8. Are you a professional?

Asking the above questions should give you a good sense of what the DJ is like and how he or she would run a dance. It may also give clear feedback to both you and the DJ where there might be opportunities for improvement. Not having a perfect answer to every question certainly does not preclude someone from being a good DJ; however, it will certainly highlight areas of strength and weakness.

The bottom line is anyone can turn on a CD player and play music; however, not everyone is well suited to be a good DJ. A good DJ is invaluable, and a bad DJ can be incredibly expensive money-wise as well as reputation-wise or even perception-wise in the general dance community. A poor DJ can even result in decreased attendance at regularly scheduled events and problems with member retention and new member recruiting. Being a DJ takes a lot more work, preparation and dedication than most people realize. The good news is that if you have the right kind of person, creating a good DJ is very doable with time, experience and a willingness to improve.