Too many (Headline) DJs

Too many (Headline) DJs

A big name DJ is coming to your town, but who do you want to set the mood in the club before they come on? Ideally someone who knows the crowd, knows the venue and knows the style of the club night.

The warm-up DJ is the holding midfielder of clubland – integral to the overall experience on the night; teeing things up for others; being the thread that holds it all together.

Sometimes they’ll go on to be the top dog – think of James Zabiela warming up for Sasha, or Sasha himself warming up at the Hacienda when he started out. Craig Richards and Terry Francis built career reputations for themselves through their Fabric residency, playing new and unknown tracks and becoming tastemakers through their unique sets. Terry Francis said about his time at Fabric: “I like to move up and down through my sets, always finishing on a strong, positive note with nice sounding music.”

If you’re an aspiring DJ, are you playing peak-time bangers? Or creating a mood with peaks and troughs throughout, taking a few risks and trying new things? A good warm up DJ will build a dancefloor that’s ready for the headliner, not shoot their beans early doors. These are not the sets for Instagram-friendly, face-melting drops, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t get the crowd worked up.

It’s not just a foot on the ladder either. Playing regularly to a crowd, and with integrity, is the reason many people got into DJing. It can be the making of a DJ as they learn to react to the crowd and find their own sound – you can get away with playing some of the most interesting music of the night. And you know the best thing? You’ve finished by the time the headliner goes on so you can go and have a dance!

Do’s and don’ts of warming up:

  • DON’T just play the top 20 tracks in a genre off Beatport
  • DON’T play the headliner’s back catalogue
  • DON’T ramp the BPM faster than the headliner plays
  • DO get to know the sound of the club night
  • DO dig a bit deeper and find your own go-to tunes
  • DO get to know the crowd and create a vibe

Who are your local heroes fighting the good fight as a warm up DJ? And when have you seen it done badly? Tell us in the comments.

Listen to In The Music Sessions: 005 by The Running Man on #SoundCloud

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