• Good Time******2:24

HOW TO BE A GREAT DJ

Motorcycle DJ?


If you have read my articles on how to be a Great DJ on my Website, DanceworksDJs.com, you already know that I constantly pound on the subject of the People, in phrases like “Know Your Client,” or “Listen to the Audience.” If you are ever to reach the elusive goal (and I don’t claim that I have, or ever will) of being a “Great DJ,” you must follow this advice, wherever it leads you. I could give you an example or two of times when I failed to follow this advice, but they didn’t turn out pretty, and I try to forget them as much as possible. Maybe it would make me feel better to give you a positive example: I took a call from a motorcycle “gang” one time, who said that I had been recommended by a friend, and they wanted me to play for a wedding reception of one of the couples in the group, and that the reception would be held on the shores of a houseboat community in the San Francisco Bay Delta.


OK, the average DJ might have steered clear of this event, but I have had at least four motorcycles myself in the last 10 years, and used to ride a Gold Wing 1830, one of the biggest bikes on the road. So, I listened to the client— come to find out, the group was not the Hells Angels (not necessarily bad people, but known to be a little rowdy at times), but an ordinary group of hard working people who got together regularly and rode. I agreed on the spot to do the job, and took a ride (on my Wing) out to the Delta to see the site of the wedding and reception. I was encouraged by what I saw: Everyone in the houseboat community was clothed :) sober, and friendly.


I came home and made sure I had every piece of motorcycle music ever written in my repertoire (not difficult for me, since I play from a digital platform), which included “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots” (not for dancing, but got a great laugh), “Harley-Davidson Road Songs” by Ted Nugent (great guitar work, of course), “Motorcycle Driveby” by Third Eye Blind (from the City by the Bay, my back yard, and a group, as its name implies, that has great thinking songs, and great poetry), and, oh yes, not to forget, “Motorcycle Mama” (two choices: “Stick around the house the rest of your life, or be the Queen of My Highway, Motorcycle Mama, you’ll see the world from my Harley”—check it out; I couldn’t make this stuff up), and a host of others. Everyone, including me, had a fantastic time (no broken equipment), and I would play another Motorcycle Wedding in a New York minute. Yes, the bride & groom rode off on Harleys. If you are a DJ, and want to compete with me for this business, the favorite song of the night: “The Motorcycle Song,” by Arlo Guthrie (but don’t play this one at a Hells Angels wedding).


If you have a great DJ story, or if you have shared an experience of being in the presence of a DJ who transformed your party, please email me at: DanceworksDJS@Comcast.net and I’ll share it with other DJ’s and clients on my website.


--Dave Crosby, Fresno, CA




HOW TO BE A GREAT DJ

The Man with the Music”


As I entered a Marriott Grand Ballroom to start setting up equipment and serve as DJ for another wedding, one of the Maids of Honor approached me and said, with a beautiful glow in her eye, “So you’re the Man with the Music,” to which I replied, “Yes, I’m the Man with the Music,” and couldn’t help but smile with pride at the designation.


It’s odd that there is no rigorous training, no expensive education, no grinding over homework semester after semester to get to be a DJ, yet the great DJ has learned from the School of Hard Knocks how to please people with that most delicate, tenuous, sometimes mystifying collection of sounds we call Music. Why does one person like a song while another can’t stand it?—and, indeed, why does one DJ never excel past “average,” while another is the hit of every music event in the county? I can break it down for you: (1) Know Your Clients and Care for Them, (2) Love the Music and Learn How to Handle It, (3) Have Great, Reliable Equipment, and (4) Listen to Your Audience.


In my first two years as a professional DJ, I was contacted by a middle-aged couple who interviewed me to play music for their wedding reception. During the interview, they told me that they wanted only classical waltzes to be played the entire evening. I told them that classical waltzes generally were for concerts, not for dancing—that they went at such a fast pace that they would be difficult for anyone to dance to but the professional dancer. The couple said that they knew this, that they had been practicing, and that was what they wanted. They also asked me to rehearse with them my delivery; that is, how I would introduce the wedding party, how I would announce the songs, and how I would let everyone know the next item on the agenda. In short, they wanted sheer perfection.


Fortunately, I was not so full of myself that I could not listen to them and their desires for the “perfect” reception; I listened to them, took their instructions to heart, and prepared for the big day. I must admit that, when I told a friend about the upcoming wedding reception, I was worried I would fall asleep playing a whole evening of waltzes. I was embarrassed about this comment later, because the wedding turned out to be one of the most memorable I have ever played, complete with a horse and carriage that came in to carry the couple away at the close.


If you can Know Your Clients, Love The Music, develop Great Equipment, and Listen To Your Audience, perhaps you too will glow with pride as you say, “Yes, I’m the Man with the Music.”


If you have a great DJ story, or if you have shared an experience of being in the presence of a DJ who transformed your party, please email me at: DanceworksDJS@Comcast.net and I’ll share it with other DJ’s and clients on my website.


--Dave Crosby, Fresno, CA




HOW TO BE A GREAT DJ

The Money Dance


Early in my career as a DJ, I was hired to play for a Hawaiian wedding reception. We had all the standard accouterments of a Hawaiian Luau: roast pig, poi, long-grain rice, etc., and I played a wide variety of music ranging from Country and Latino and, of course, an emphasis on great Polynesian music. All of this was fine, and the Polynesian people at the reception were having a good time.


Then, we got to the Money Dance, and the Party Busted Out. I mean, these two hot Hawaiian ladies began to do a Hula Dance with some sort of oil on their skin, and people came up and put 5, 10, and 20 dollar bills on them—I even saw a couple of hundreds; pretty soon, there were so many bills on the ladies that the money began to fall off, and they finished the dance ankle-deep in bills!


I have since done many wedding receptions, and played for many Money Dances. In most of the other Money dances for which I have played, the Bride & Groom dance with other friends and relatives at the reception, and the bills are usually pinned to the Groom, and put in a purse carried by the bride—sometimes a lot of money is collected to start the newlyweds off with a nest egg, but sometimes I need to encourage friends to dance with the bride or groom because, I tell them, the loser has to do dishes for the rest of his or her life (that line actually gets people out to dance and donate to the couple!—go figure). At any rate, none have topped the Hawaiian reception and the Hula dancers—a real memory for life.


If you have a great DJ story, or if you have shared an experience of being in the presence of a DJ who transformed your party, please email me at: DanceworksDJS@Comcast.net and I’ll share it with other DJ’s and clients on my website.


--Dave Crosby, Fresno, CA




HOW TO BE A GREAT DJ

Could You Play a Favorite Song for Me?”


I set up to play for a company party on board one of the Commodore Line ships that specializes in dinner cruises on the San Francisco Bay. Everything went as planned: I played low-key background music for the dinner, then gradually picked up the pace as we started the Party. The people were happy, I was happy, the music was. . .fine; but somehow, for as great a venue as this was, sailing on the Bay under the moon and the beautiful lights of San Francisco by night, something was missing.


I’m not even sure that I knew that something was missing at the time, but something happened that made the evening turn special: A guy came up to me and asked me to play his favorite song, “Lean on Me.” This song, to say the least, was not my favorite song, but there was something soulful in his pleading for his favorite song, and when he promised that everyone else would love the song, too, I relented and started the old Bill Withers classic.


Immediately, as Bill started the piano intro, there was a thrill of anticipation that ran through the crowd, and I knew that the guy had not overstated the crowd’s love for this song. Soon, the entire ship, from bow to stern, was singing, “Lean on me when you’re not strong; and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.” They might have heard us on the streets of San Francisco as even some of the crew joined in—we were more than a community of office workers, we were family, and the song transformed a nice evening into a spectacular, memorable event. Earned advice is learned advice: “Listen To Your Audience.”


If you have a great DJ story, or if you have shared an experience of being in the presence of a DJ who transformed your party, please email me and I'll share it with other DJ’s and clients on my website.


--Dave Crosby, Fresno, CA


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