As DJs, we’re often so concerned with how we sound, that we forget how important looks are, too. I don’t mean your physical appearance. You don’t have to be Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone to win at the DJ’ing game. I mean your gear. Obviously, if you play in a venue where everything is set and ready for you, this is less important, so today I’m mostly speaking to the DJs who bring their own gear.
Your mixing can be flawless, and your song selection perfect. You may have 100,000 songs at your fingertips, and know the BPM and phrasing of every one of them. You may sound like Michael Buffer on the microphone. That’s all great, but if your setup is sloppy, people will remember you as the sloppy DJ. So how do you go about cleaning up and looking good?
For starters, keep your cables out of sight, at least as much as possible. You’ll need to have a couple cables running to speakers, and one running to a power source, but do your best to cover up everything else. I use a Bunn Gear Command Center, and swear by it, but there are many other options. That’s a good thing, as I’ve heard the Command Centers are sold out, at least for the moment, and may never come back into stock. If so, that’s a shame. I’d buy three more if I could! Another good option is a facade. You can make a simple one yourself, or buy a nice pre-made one. At its most basic, a DJ facade is three pieces of wood or plastic, painted or carpeted, and connected with hinges to create a movable wall. Set that in front of your table and you’ll hide a lot of mess.
You can also build a simple DJ table. A nice one has a recessed area for your controller or turntables, which not only looks great, but also keeps all the connecting cables out of sight.
Another option is a traditional DJ coffin, resting upon a heavy-duty keyboard stand. I used one for years with my turntables, and despite putting on scratch-heavy turntablist performances, never had any issues with skipping. Those things are rock solid and steady. The drawback is, of course, visible wires, so any keyboard stand setup almost certainly requires a facade or similar.
Once you’ve got your setup in place, and everything looks good, make sure to tape down the speaker cables and power cable, and any other exposed wiring. Not only will it look better, and more professional, but it will prevent guests, and you, from tripping on wires and getting hurt or yanking a plug from a socket. Buy gaffer’s tape, not duct tape. It’s more expensive, but it is easier to remove at the end of the night, and won’t damage floors or walls.
And finally, make sure you are dressed appropriately. Gone are the days when DJs were universally expected to show up in a tuxedo, but often a suit is still a good choice. Find out ahead of time how the person paying you expects you to dress, and follow those guidelines. My experience in life is that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, and it’s nearly never inappropriate to wear a suit, but you do you, you sexy DJ, you!