In this post I will try to explain the most common mistakes DJs usually make in their sets on international events.
Being a DJ on international event is quite different than DJing your local milonga. I’ve been DJ for almost 5 years, but things I learned on my almost 3 years of international experience are the most valuable. I also travel intensively to international encuentros almost every month last 3 years.
I have seen good DJs and I have been disappointed by the bad ones. I have been pleasantly surprised by the sets of some people, and been pushed to leave milonga early by the music of some which are considered good. I learned a lot from my own mistakes also.
In this 5 points I will try to sublime these lessons, hoping that this post will save some milonga from finishing long before La cumparsita. It will help organizers to recognize a good DJs and the DJs to think about their approach.
So, here is what you have to be careful about if you are a DJ on international tango event:
1. Competing with the other DJs at the event – and therefore, forgetting about the audience. It is not a competition. You do not have to be different, do not try to be better, you do not have to play pieces of music others do not have, do not be original, you do not have to play something they forgot to. If you focus on comparing yourself and your set to others, you completely forget that you are there for the dancers – not for the other fellow DJs. The musicalizador should not be afraid to play some track just because other DJs played it already – if it fits to his/hers concept, it must be on the playlist. Focus on the right things – do not miss the point.
2. Saving the best tandas for “when the right time comes” – The right time usually is when the tanda came in to your mind. Later will be too late. A good DJ, should learn to trust his/hers guts. I learned this the hard way: I saved the perfect tandas for later “when the right time comes” and later was right time for other tandas. This DJing tactics usually results in lowering the quality of your set.
3. Experimenting – International events are places imagined as a point with condensed quality of dance – which means, good dancers and good music. People come to these events and they want to dance, you do not have to surprise them with special music. Of course, it is always nice to refresh the mood with some forgotten or “new” track – but this refreshment should be tested before. This is why international DJs should have their local experience, where they test their tandas. Please, do not screw up the international events for testing your ideas – people traveled thousand of kilometers and spent a lot of money to be there for their dance, not for you to experiment on them.
4. Slowing down – I’ve heard this many times and, in my experience, it is nothing but a myth: when the people are tired, you should calm down the energy of your set. As far as I am concerned, the truth is the opposite – when people are tired, the DJ needs to give them extra energy with his/her set. If people are tired, they can dance slow, even on a very energetic music, but nothing drains the mood of the milonga more than slow and passionless music. In my opinion this is number one mood killer on international events.
5. Disconnecting – My personal guiding principle is that “DJing for tango is like dancing with all dancers on the floor at the same time; and making cabeceo with all dancers that are sitting around”. This means that you have to connect with people around and never to forget that you are there for them. I hate to see a DJ’s face glowing from the bright light of the screen of his laptop – the brightness should be enough for him/her to see what is there, but not so much to interfere with his ability to see what is going on around.
Of course this post is not a rulebook. Everyone has his/hers own experience and opinion which might be different than mine. If this is the case I would be glad to discuss about them in the comments sections bellow or in the e-mail conversation.