I saw a standup comic once who was slaying. He had the whole club in stitches, except for one guy sitting right at the foot of the stage.
Everyone could tell the comic was distracted by the guy and finally he broke character and said to him, “Man, I wish you’d cheer up.” The guy replied that he was having a great time and then the comedian said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Tell your face that.”
When I perform an event, I don’t want anyone in the room to wonder whether or not I’m having a great time. And neither should you. As mobile DJs, we are hired to get the party started. That’s one of the most important jobs we have – getting people dancing and having a great time. And it’s much easier to do that when you yourself are happy and enthusiastic.
Here are six sure-fire ways to make sure you look like the life of the party at every event:
Stay Positive: If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the world can be a rotten place and the news can be very depressing. Between a world-wide pandemic, hurricanes that wipe out whole communities, ups and down in the economy, and now, an all-out war in Eastern Europe, watching CNN or any news outlet can change your mood in no-time.
So, avoid it. I don’t listen to the news on the way to my events and I don’t have alerts pop up on my phone during my parties. And if I sit down for dinner and the photographers or videographers want to discuss current events, I politely excuse myself. Anything that’s happening in the news can wait until I’m driving home. When I’m working an event, I try to fool myself that the world is nothing but puppies and rainbows.
Get Into the Music: You’re a DJ for many reasons, and I guarantee your love of music is one of them. So, let that show! Don’t be embarrassed to sing along, clap your hands and move to the beat. How can you expect people to dance to what you’re playing if you are standing still with no awareness that a great song is pumping from your system? I love when guests tell me they had fun just watching me during the party – and that happens often by the way. It tells me I am doing my job and letting my love of music show.
Get Animated: A friend of mine who is an actor told me once that when he is onstage, he thinks about the person in the last row. Can they hear his voice? Can they see his gestures? I often think of something similar: Those people all the way over at table 18, can they see me smiling? Can they see my hand gestures? They can if I’m animated.
Now, I know this can be taken too far and you can come across cheesy and phony, but you can avoid that by being sincere. Just be who you are, amplified. If you’re genuinely smiling, smile wider. If you normally clap your hands to a song, clap bigger and harder. If you’d like to sing along to a certain lyric, shout it out loud! Be you, but do it larger than life. Or as my friend Sean “Big Daddy” McKee says, “Smile as loud as you can.”
Think of the Money You Are Making: In high school and college, I had a part-time job doing maintenance work at my local church and school. I was making minimum wage to mop floors, empty trash cans, and paint non-air-conditioned classrooms in the summertime. When I’m having a rough gig, struggling to get people dancing and dealing with rude people, I think back on that and say to myself, “That kid would have killed to make the money you’re making tonight!” Money shouldn’t be the sole reason you do anything in life, but there’s nothing wrong with thinking about your income and putting a smile on your face.
Avoid Lyrical Dissonance: Most songs sound like what they are. You can hear two notes of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and know it’s a sad song that you should probably avoid at your events. Get a few bars in “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas and you can tell it’s about celebrating. But some songs will fool you, and when they do, that’s called lyrical dissonance.
The Motown classic “Tears of a Clown” is the quintessential example. Listen to the opening of the song and it feels like you’re walking into a circus. But soon enough you’ll find yourself singing along to: “Really I’m sad, oh, I’m sadder than sad. You’re gone and I’m hurting so bad.” Not exactly the message you want to send out at a wedding. So. when you select your music, don’t just listen to the melody and rhythm, make sure the lyrics are positive and upbeat as well.
Remember How Important This Event Is for Your Clients: Most of the events I play are weddings. You can’t avoid the significance of a wedding day. Until children come along, it’ll probably be the biggest day in the couple’s lives. And their immediate family and friends will also cherish the moment as well. But all parties are significant.
A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a huge day in a young person’s life. So are Sweet 16s and quinceañeras. And if someone is throwing a birthday party or anniversary or holiday party, and they think it’s important enough to hire a DJ, it means the event is essential to them as well. No matter what type of party you are working, cherish the event. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and realize how significant the celebration is, and don’t let yourself ever “phone it in.”
Sometimes I’ll pull up to my Sunday wedding a little tired and sore after three events in a row; but as soon as I see my bride or groom, I snap out of it and remember what the day is all about. And how honored I am to be chosen to provide the entertainment. If you can’t do that, find a way.
Or stop doing parties. We owe our clients at least that much.
Mike Walter is the owner of Elite Entertainment in Tinton Falls, N.J.
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