Life on a London DJ – Continued…

In our last blog post, we talked about all the planning that goes into doing an event in London and how the life of a DJ can sometimes be not as glamorous as you may think. What we in the event industry say is from a customers point of view it all looks like fun and games as your at an event every night but what they don’t see is all the hard work that goes into everything the weeks before and the amount of physical labour that goes into setting up the equipment. Let’s get back into the story at hand here though, I may be a DJ, and I can waffle, but I know when I’m going off point.

So we got all the equipment in the venue via the small ramp at the back on Tavistock Street; however, the main entrance being Wellington Street this secret entrance took some time to locate and so did parking when your unloading speakers, lighting and a big DJ booth. Once all the equipment is in the venue then begins the short discussion with the events manager of where they want us, how they want everything set up and what music they want us to play. There are a lot of nods of agreement, and we then start with a matter of urgency and speed, putting speaker poles up, unravelling cables and connectors and putting together the DJ booth. The first thing you always do when setting up is visualising where you want everything usually this starts by working from the DJ booth in the centre outwards, you then put the speaker poles up either side and get the speakers, this time being Wharfedale EVP speakers lifted up on top of them, with a final tightening of a grip bolt the speakers are secure and in position and the only thing knocking them off tonight is an elephant travelling in the wrong direction from London Zoo. You then put the DJ booth up, which today is an S&H solid metal frame with starlight LED black cloth with white twinkles that wraps around it, the great thing about this is it acts as protection when the dancing gets a bit out of control, and people lean on the DJ booth, many of the smaller and cheaper DJ booths just fall over or get pushed backwards. With this up, you can start unpacking the amplifiers from their protective case and wiring them up to the speakers and the mixer, as we’re using a Traktor combined controller and mixer, the phono cables plug straight into the back of that and then into balanced XLR cables in the amplifier. We always carry a spare amp with us as no matter how much you service and look after your amplifier you just never know when one day it’s going to have a hissy fit and cut out on you, however to this day (touch wood) it never has.

With the audio, speakers and DJ booth all set up and ready to go, the final step is some lighting. The best thing about technology is the vast improvements this has made to lighting in the DJ and disco industry, especially with the onset of LED technology. Whereas these were only found originally in the standby light of many components they are now used for a vast away of lighting equipment as the main lighting output, we used to rely highly on high wattage halogen lamps that had a tendency of blowing and overheating. All our uplighters are now LED type. This means they can keep going all night, don’t get hot and aren’t dangerous to touch, we place these strategically around the room especially in corners or by pillars then they have more of a prominent area to display the light and create a better effect. With these all set out, we adjust the timings on them to either go to the music or to gently rotate through all the colours. The final setup for lighting is the moving headlights, these really are the party centrepiece and work jointly to the timing of the music moving around flooding the dancefloor and room with different colour lights in different timings.

Watch our video of everyone dancing at the London Film Museum at a corporate event we provided the DJ and Disco for.

With everything set up, we now move on to the few final checks before the guests start arriving. The first and most important is the audio, the guests will notice straight away if there’s a problem with the audio, so we press play on our personal favourite of the moment Pharell Happy then slowly increase the power on the amplifier to start warming it up and check the sound. We go up to the speaker with the sound on low just to check all components of it are delivering a crisp, clear sound we then crank it up and walk around the venue, and everything is sounding good! Excellent news so now it’s time to have a quick visual of the lighting with the music and see if we think it needs any final tweaks, we decide to change the mode on the moving headlights to run a bit faster then everything is good to go! We give the thumbs up to the event manager, and they respond with a big smile and straight away put a message out on the walkie talky that we are GOOD TO GO!

In the next blog post, we cover how the event itself runs, how as DJs we choose the music and mix it plus we also tell you how to deal with guests who think they can DJ. Thank you for taking the time to read our blogs, and if you have any questions, please let us know, and we’ll blog our answers.

Take care and happy partying!

Simon Feldman, Events Manager