Party Starter Tips From Our Favorite DJs
DJ ARI BABY www.djaribaby.com
What's the secret formula for a great party? Good place + good people + good booze + good music = great party
What song is sure to get the dance floor grooving? Let's Dance - Bowie
What are you listening to lately? Lately I've been listening to Hall and Oates. Here's a playlist of my current favorites that I update pretty regularly.
What are the most common 'do not play' song requests? 'Blurred Lines' followed by all of the Black Eyed Peas songs in no particular order.
Any memorable dance floor moments you'd like to share? There was a beautiful moment at one wedding where four friends broke into an interpretive dance during Cindy Lauper's 'True Colors'. They didn't request the song - I had just happened to play it. It was awesome! They must have been practicing it regularly, which boggles the mind.
JAMES MULRY www.jamesmulry.com
What are you listening to lately? Summertime always makes me pull out my tropical, breezy records, so I've been listening to a good deal of Brazilian music from the '70s and '80s—Rita Lee, Caetano Veloso, Marcos Valle, and Tim Maia to name a few. I've also been listening to Eli Escobar's new album, he is one of my favorite NYC DJs who also produces his own dance music. What are the most common 'do not play' song requests? Line Dancing of any kind—slides, shuffles, and the like. Top 40 songs slightly past their prime that have become clichéd. I also commonly see any artists with a record of abusing or degrading women on do-not-play lists. How do you hype the crowd without saying anything awkward on the mic? Guests don't come to a wedding to hear me hyping them up, and they certainly don't need to hear any corny jokes. I can make guests excited to keep the party going by using the skills and techniques I've honed in nightclubs—beat-matching, cutting, and blending songs so the music never pauses and the energy level is kept high. I'm looking to get everything right—ceremony music cues, volume level during cocktail hour and dinner, choosing creative and fun songs, and being a tactful MC—so guests are hopefully looking at me and thinking, "this DJ is doing a great job tonight!" If that is their attitude, and guests see that I am invested in my craft, good faith is built and it will translate to a more successful dance floor without having to resort to hyping guests up on the mic. Any memorable dance floor moments you'd like to share? I recently worked a wedding where the groom was a big fan of '90s house and techno, two genres unfamiliar to most guests. I was able to set up some of his requests in a context of other more familiar songs, mixing the house music in a way that makes sense. When I dropped Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams" everyone went crazy! Guests from all generations squared off for a big dance-off, everyone tearing it up to this unexpected but great house track. I could have never predicted that older relatives and little kids would be showing all of their best moves to that house song, and it's those kinds of unexpected moments that make DJ'ing weddings so magical.
GARY HOFFMAN OF 74 EVENTS www.74events.com
What's the secret formula for a great party? Timing is everything! If it's a wedding, you have to have a good schedule in place. You can't just wing it. Poorly planned weddings rarely have good dance floors as the stress of running the show and directing the day on the fly really distracts from the creative music process. If it not a wedding, timing is still key as you have to know when to pull the trigger, drop the hammer and tear the roof off.
What song is sure to get the dance floor started? This is really hard as so much depends on the client's preferences. I think Prince has been the most requested artist this year and "Let's Go Crazy" is an awesome go to right now. Most DJs love Prince and are big fans, so the recent public interest in his music has been a bittersweet thing in 2016.
If a client isn't expecting a raging dance party but still wants a memorable ambiance, what type of music do you suggest? In this case, we think long and hard about the artists they love and try to create a set that is super smart and engaging. In this scenario, your goal is to impress their snobby music friend and have that person talking about you all night long because you actually played The Fall or Pavement or a deep cut from Funkadelic or something like that.