Be A Fabulous Dance DJ: How To Compile An Awesome Party Playlist in 8 steps

In today’s party events, we do not necessarily need to have club DJ remixers to throw party. Given how most (dance) party venues usually take place at dance studios, halls and dining systems already come with a decent sound system, all you really need to do is to compile a playlist for a good night out.

1. Know what type of party it is.

Simply knowing what the aim of the party is will determine the kind of crowd will show up. For instance, compiling a playlist for a Christmas party will be much different to compiling one for a wedding party. From here, you can determine several factors, such as the average age range, dancer levels, and dance styles you will be catering to.

2. Know the length and time of the party.

This is also an essential fact because this will also affect the kind of music you will be putting into your playlist. If it were a party attended mostly by young children, the ending time and song styles would cater more to a family friendly audience than if you were DJing for a salsa party attended by adults.

3. Fix a longer playlist with no shuffles.

While leaving the shuffles to the machine sounds like a great idea for mixing your songs, it is not a recommended tactic simply because you wouldn’t be able to control the mood of the party. Similarly, producing a playlist that will last at least an hour longer than the standard party duration will leave you less to worry about.

4. Start off slow with easy to follow tempo.

In the beginning of any party, things will start off slow as guests begin to arrive and take the time to chit chat and socialize. Think of it as a warm up period for the party to build up its momentum. Similarly, the easy to follow tempo will give them an excuse to ask others if they want to dance.

5. Build up the speed around 2 hours into the party.

2 hours is a good general guideline when people have already warmed up to each other and the party is already well underway. The mood of these people are usually much higher as the amount of chatter has already increased with the possibility of the alcohol starting to kick their systems. This is a good time to add faster tempo music into the list.

6. Use the rule of quarters.

This is an observation that I genuinely believe works when it comes to compiling playlists for whatever dance styles you’re preparing for:

  • Strictly Ballroom/Latin (Dancesport) Party: 1/2 Ballroom songs, 1/2 Latin songs
  • Mainly Ballroom/Latin with Salsa/Bachata Party: 3/4 Ballroom and Latin songs, 1/4 Salsa/Bachata/Freestyle songs
  • Salsa Party (warm up hours): 3/4 Salsa songs, 1/4 Bachata songs
  • Salsa Party (when the party is swinging): 1/2 Salsa songs, 1/4 Bachata songs, 1/4 ChaCha/Zouk/Reggaeton/Kizomba/Merengue songs
  • *Traditional Milonga: 3/4 Tango tandas, 1/4 Milonga/Vals tandas
  • *Alternative/Fusion Milonga: 3/4 Modern Tango tandas, 1/4 Traditional Tango/Milonga/Vals tandas

*Milongas (a.k.a. Argentine Tango parties/dance events) work in sets of 3-4 songs per “tanda” (which is the term for “set”). For further information on tango glossary terms, check out this comprehensive list at Tango Addiction.

7. Group songs into 2s.

Grouping songs this way is a good guideline in setting the mood graduating from slow to fast and vice versa. People would hate to suddenly jump from one mood to another since the music you play will determine the way people will feel at the party.

8. Mix the familiar with the unfamiliar.

While people would generally dance to songs they are familiar with, having already heard them a million times will bore them. Research a few artists who are famous for certain styles of dance and listen to a few samples of songs that may not have made it into the charts. This is when you can combine the familiar with the unfamiliar: well-known artist and unheard of song.

Remember, people will not remember the full playlist of songs you have given them, but the most important thing is that they will remember exactly how they felt about your party. So turn your next DJing event into a fabulously fulfilling one!

Have you got any other tips in DJing a dance party? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

Image source: Tatsuhico

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