What happened to Opening DJs?

By Tony Fernandez

Another year has passed and with the New Year is upon us it’s time to reflect. As I look back on the past year and forward into next year, I had a thought strike me: Where are the opening DJs?

Now before we get too deep into this thread, hear me out. This may seem like more of a club DJ thing, but you mobile DJs need to stick around. I read posts all the time about tandem mobile DJs, DJs-in-training, new DJs looking to get some live experience – an opening DJ slot is a great way to take things to the next level.

What exactly is an opening DJ? An opening DJ is a VERY important role in the grand scheme of how a night is going to roll out. It’s a very specialized skill.

Your job as an opening DJ is to set the table, as it were.   You’re setting the tone for the night. You’re like the first stage of a rocket heading into orbit… if you don’t do your job right, no one is going anywhere.

The internet has been a great source in reading (horror) stories about opening DJs and their folly. DJs that play inappropriate tracks, DJs that play tracks at 10:30 that should be played at 12:30. DJs that don’t know how to read a room. DJs that are not well versed in the subtlety of programming and set building.

There’s no doubt that going from gig to gig, events are different. But the role of the opening DJ stays pretty constant. This is a GREAT opportunity to learn and hone your song programming and crowd reading skills.  You can test, try out, experiment, and probe. You can build on your skill set and improve on that skill set.

Your role isn’t to supersede or usurp the DJ coming on after you. By all means, do your best, take the moment to shine, and make it your own. However, as an opener, you’re not the focus of the night. Do your job, know your role, whet your skills, and you’ll be surprised how you can succeed.

Keep on spinning.

Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez has been a DJ, Remixer, Producer, Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on facebook. Email djtonytf@gmail.com