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Hiring A Bar Mitzvah DJ: There Are No Do-Overs, So Rent One Who's Worth More Than You're Paying

Aug 17, 2007
Have you been assigned your Bar or Bat Mitzvah date yet? Due to vacations and camps, there are seldom Bar or Bat Mitzvahs scheduled in the summer. My son's birthday is July 22. His Bar Mitzvah was pushed up to May 1! (And remember, springtime is Wedding season, too.) September and October Saturdays will get those August Bar or Bat Mitzvah birthdays, too. December Saturdays are devoured by office Christmas parties.

Never feel pressured to hire a DJ. But a word to the wise: DJs raise their rates regularly and book their dates from several months to even a year in advance. And Bar or Bat Mitzvahs are really the only type of affair that can book over two years in advance. All DJs will accept the first job that comes along for any date. So, as soon as you determine your DJ comfort level, GO FOR IT! Lock in your date, lock in your rate, book him and look forward to your party!

Think about the white-mustachioed, GOT MILK? advertising campaign. Your question must go well beyond GOT MUSIC? Of course, he'll have music. It's a given. After all, you've got plenty of CD's. You could have your cousins take turns on a boom box.

So the next level is GOT ENTERTAINMENT?

Your DJ's service must go well beyond pushing the "play" button. His entertainment value includes the HOURS spent with you well prior to your affair, consulting the caterer, photographer and others immediately prior to your affair and taking the burden off of your shoulders during the affair. Your party may be four hours, but counting the multiple consultations he'll have with you months, weeks and days before your Mitzvah and his set-up and dismantling time, any DJ may put in twice the time of your actual function. Counting the time spent hiring subcontractors, obtaining party favors then removing the cellophane wrapper from each one, preparing contests, producing and timing your Candlelighting Ceremony and maybe even finding that obscure song that brings back a special memory for you, perhaps it's triple the time of your actual party.

Your DJ simply cannot "wing it." He's got to prepare.

My wife and I were guests at a Bat Mitzvah and I couldn't help but notice the DJ's faux pas. Aside from consistently mispronouncing any Hebrew reference, he only referred to "The Bat Mitzvah Girl" and "Your Host and Hostess" throughout that party. It occurred to me that he never called Stephanie or her parents, Marty and Cindy, by their names. Not once. I'd bet a buck that he was subcontracted and never met with the parents prior to the party, forgot the agency's fax, couldn't recall their names and was embarrassed to ask who he was working for that day!

So your ultimate question should be GOT TALENT?

If one of the questions to a prospective DJ is "What type of mixer do you use?" I know you have no real concern regarding ohms or watts or what gauge cable wire your DJ provides. You just want things to function properly and sound clean.

Your DJ is not selling a product. He's selling a service. His proficiency. Hire a name, not just the occupation.

I've been flattered to once have a client change from an evening affair to a luncheon due to my lack of nighttime availability on their date. If a DJ is a real "catch" and you have enough leeway, consider changing your actual date in order to book this guy. Farfetched? All DJ's play tunes. It's the interaction prior to and during the affair that sets us apart.

All DJs will provide the tangibles. We all have equipment and music and party favors. You want the intangibles. The pleasantly unexpected.

Your DJ should ask you about your child, your wishes and your expectations for this affair and listen. He should take notes, not talk. During your initial consultation, you'll size him up immediately. Again, his focus should be on you and your family, not "me, myself and I." He won't have a second chance to make a good first impression so what you see (or hear) is what you'll get. If he makes you feel stress-free and carefree regarding this affair...how fantastic! If you feel he's well organized and can provide a beautiful flow to your party...how lucky you found him. If your town offers "slim pickin's," import a DJ! He has a vehicle. Pay him for the extra drive time. It's money well spent.

If your Bar or Bat Mitzvah is eighteen months away and you feel "he's the guy," book him now. (You're getting a discount! Even if he were available, I can assure you that his fee in eighteen months will be higher than it is today.) He's a professional, not a hobbyist, and he brings a lot to the table for you. He's more than gear and music. He's a fraction of your total day's expense, but he's worth more than you're paying. He's your trump card. Don't skimp. If you were a fly on the wall, as your guests left you'd certainly rather hear "Wow, that was so much fun!" than "At least there was nothing good on TV tonight!" Let's face it, if your DJ can even manage to get Aunt Edna up to dance, you may call him The Miracle Worker. Remember, there are no do-overs!
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 loaded 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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