Over the past few years, I've noticed that not only do people want to choose the songs played at their party, they also want to choose the time in the evening that they are played. In this blog post, I look into if this is a good or bad thing.

Like lots of others, you might want some level of control over the music played at your party. I’ve been allowing clients to give me a list of their favourite songs for many, many years, in fact, it’s one of the main reasons why people book.

You get some who are happy to go with the flow and are happy to have any style of music played on the night, others who have a short list of favourites, after that anything goes and then you have those who want to specify each individual track played on the night.

Over the past few years, however, I’ve noticed a new trend in folk wanting not only to choose every song played at their party but also the time it’s played.

On paper, it all looks good. Start off with the 60′s, 70′s, Rock n Roll and Motown for the oldies, then into the 80′s, 90′s and finish with the current chart.  The trust though is that would work for probably around 20% of my parties, it may differ for other DJ’s but for me…I get a very low success rate with that format.


At each and every party I DJ at there are on average 120-150 people. That’s a load of people all with different brains than the previous party I worked at, all with different tastes in music who all react in different ways to music played at different parts of the night.

If I turned up at a party with the idea that between 7:30 and 9pm I’ll aim for the oldies, then 9pm to 10pm I’ll do 80′s and so on, it might work…or it might not. If I played Dancing Queen at 7:45pm, am I likely to get a different reaction if I played that track at say 10:30pm?  Am I going to get people doing The Conga at 8pm, or is that more likely to work at 11:30pm when they’ve had a few shots?

You see the point I’m trying to make here?

Timing is critical, far more critical thank you think. This is why I’m not afraid to admit that I make it up as I go along.  I go where the people take me. If they’re not ready for Time Warp at 8pm then I’ll play it when I think they want it and are ready for it.

Some songs generally work better in different parts of the night. Such tracks are sing-a-long songs such as Sweet Caroline, YMCA, Hey Big Spender, 9 to 5, etc. These are all (traditionally) best left towards the end of the night, however, if the crowd are up for it at the start of the party then why keep them waiting?

A long time ago when I first started I used to work out the night on paper before I even left the house. I had my clients’ playlist in one hand and my own version of it in the other. Each track meticulously arranged in the order they best went together. As I came from a radio background where every song is arranged in a similar sort of way it kind of made sense but I soon discovered that out on the road…that was not going to work, and it didn’t.

What’s the best option?

The ABSOLUTE best way to have a great party is to let the DJ do his own thing. By all means, give him a list of tracks but don’t fall into the trap of organising it. Any DJ worth his salt, backed by years and years of party experience will be able to arrange your favourites and play them in a way that your friends won’t be able to resist the lure of the dance floor!

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