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Hiring A Bar Mitzvah DJ: Questions to Ask and Opinions To Offer

Aug 17, 2007
Regardless of market size, how do you know who's the cream of the Disc Jockey crop? As you speak with DJs, pay particular attention to their professionalism on the phone. It often tends to spill over into their DJ style. A strained conversation doesn't bode well for your piece of mind. Mobile Disc Jockey publications and trade groups exist. Does your DJ subscribe? Is he a participating member? Ask.

And ask about a request policy. A good DJ should work some guest requests into his routine. However, don't expect him to play them all. They may be inappropriate for the mood of the event. A DJ isn't just a record changer. He wants to motivate the crowd. The art of DJing is timing, and forcing him to ignore his instincts by playing every request will result in an "uneven" (and less fun) party. But DJs aim to please and anticipate requests. (I receive, in large part, the same ones at every affair!)

It's OK to provide a list of a few songs and tell your DJ that they're "Must Have." But don't make a list pages long. Also remember, given the opportunity to make that list, the "nature of the beast" is that 13-year olds are self-centered. They'll always list their favorite tunes, giving no thought to adult preferences or DJ leeway. They won't notice, nor care about, the adults who are sitting there gritting their teeth to the Top 10 on MTV.

Beats Per Minute should remain constant throughout a "dance" song. Slow dances have 60-80 BPM and up-tempo numbers have twice as many. If a tune goes through several rhythm changes, it's quite difficult to dance to. And occasionally, adults won't consider "danceability," either. I recently played a party where a gentleman requested "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" by Crosby, Stills and Nash. We all grew up listening to this tune and, while I carry the song, I didn't want to play it because you simply can't dance to it. I knew that if I played it, it would clear the dance floor! Not only that, but the song is over seven minutes long. An empty floor for SEVEN MINUTES...watch the DJ start to schvitz! He'll need a bath towel for the perspiration.

Your child will also give no thought to song lyrics. Unless you're on top of today's CDs (many have Parental Advisories), you may be shocked at some lyrics. And even if you happen to enjoy those songs yourself, Aunt Tilly might faint!

Your DJ should be aware of the lyrics, but you can still supply him with a "Don't Play" list. Lyric issues aside, some other songs are silly, but they're fun. And that's really all you want your affair to be, right? So welcome those novelty dances and interactive songs (which don't require a dance partner) like The Hokey Pokey, Macarena, Hands Up, Bunny Hop, The Electric Slide or Cha-Cha Slide. If your DJ plays one or two, or three or four, it'll motivate your guests and occupy the dancefloor. (Your DJ will suck in his breath and play them all. He may be weary of these tunes, but they're his bread and butter songs.)

Variety in music is essential and your DJ will bring a much larger assortment, but time only allows for 60-70 songs in a typical 4-hour show. Having the proper 65 is what's important. DJs won't track through all of Engelbert Humperdinck's Greatest Hits at your Mitzvah, just as they won't play Heavy Metal or Rap music at a Class of '60 Reunion.

A Bar/Bat Mitzvah party range duration is 3 to 5 hours. How long should yours be? If your function is for adults as well as children, plan 3 or 4 hours for a luncheon and 4 or 5 for an evening affair. NOTE: If your party is for your child's friends only, 3 hours is sufficient. That fourth hour at a kids-only party seems to last much longer than 60 minutes!

Are you planning a luncheon or an evening reception? There are pros and cons to both. Either way, you have plenty of company.

It doesn't mean a thing one way or the other but, for the past several years, the percentage of my clients having luncheons has been increasing. Last year, it was just about a draw.

But the time of day is irrelevant. Your guests and your child's friends expect two things: food and fun. You take care of the food. Your DJ will handle the rest.
About the Author
Joe Pachino has been a Radio & Mobile DJ in Baltimore since 1974 and authored "DJ's Secrets Revealed! How To Select (And Get The Most Out Of) Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah DJ" c 2001, 2007 EMI. It's filled with constructive, organized and valuable tip$ for Parents. He's performed at well over 1000 Mitzvahs, so take advantage of his experience. (And experiences!) You'll find loads of info and goodies at http://djs-secrets.com/
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