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How to Hire a Disc Jockey by Barbara Jennings

For musical entertainment, disc jockeys (DJs) add a special element to any large or small party. You can usually customize the play list and just leave the music to the DJ to oversee. DJs used to be connected strictly with parties for younger crowds, but that's not true any longer. A good DJ will have a wide assortment of musical styles and genres to suit the theme of your party or the age range of most of your guests.

A good DJ is also useful to the enjoyment of a party because they will interact with the crowd more than a band. They have a knack for getting people up and dancing. There's nothing worse than throwing a party with great music and having your guests afraid to venture out on the dance floor to enjoy themselves. A good DJ also knows how to generate participation from all generations present at the party, generations that might not mix well at all otherwise.

A good DJ will have his/her pulse on the party at all times. They will know when to step up the beat of the music and when to slow it down. They might even hold contests of a wide variety to generate involvement and excitement.

You may wish to get some estimates from 2-3 before selecting one because the prices can vary widely. Bear in ming that the DJ must account for travel time to and from the location of the party, plus the set up and tear down time of the equipment, plus the wear and tear on the equiment, and the time and talent they invest at the party itself.

Here are some guidelines if you're looking for a DJ.

  • To find a DJ in your area, contact local entertainment companies that specialize in providing entertainers for parties. If you live in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, here's a good one: DJ Swivell (Ian Jennings), (714) 963-3071 or fill out this brief form and submit it: Hire DJ Swivell.
  • Ask the DJ to give you a list of the types of parties the DJ has worked.
  • Meet with the DJ to get an idea of his/her personality and style. Be very specific about what you are looking for and the type of party and guest list you are planning. Talk about the DJ's wardrobe. Listen to ideas the DJ might have to gain an idea of his experience and background.
  • If possible, try to see the DJ in action at another party or affair. Some DJs might even have a demonstration video you can view.
  • Submit an advance play list to make sure the DJ has the selections on hand that you want. Discuss the guests you will be having, particularly the age groups.
  • A good DJ will have his own equipment. Verify that this is the case. Their equipment should include: props, all music selections, speakers and sound system, microphones and such. They may or may not have their own table. If not, be sure to have one available.
  • A good DJ will probably have a written contract for you to sign. If not, be sure to construct one yourself. Make sure you list the name of the DJ who will be working the event. Do not leave it unspecified or there is no telling who might actually show up to work the event. List the starting time and ending time of the event and any extra charges that may be incurred.
  • Specify in the contract the number of breaks that the DJ will have and when they will be taken and the duration allowed. The more specific the contract is, the better.
  • If you want the DJ to also act as a Master of ceremonies, be sure to state that and include in the contract.
  • Be sure your DJ has directions to the event in advance.
  • Be sure both you and the DJ check on the power outlets available at the event in advance so there are no on-site complications later.

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(2004-05 Copyright Barbara Jennings)

Barbara Jennings
is the West Coast Pioneer in Redesign, author of 7 decorating books, a published artist, corporate art consultant, and furniture arrangement consultant. For training in professional furniture and accessory arrangement, or to start your own redesign or art consulting business, please visit: