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The 5 Golden Rules that Every Warm-Up DJ Needs to Live By

It's a skill. An artform. A chance to be routinely ignored by your peers. Who wouldn't want to be a warm up DJ?

by Josh Baines
Sep 30 2015, 3:00pm

Yesterday BBC Radio 1xtra main man Mistajam took to Facebook to remind his friends, fans and followers about a statement he'd made on Twitter a while back. This was the tweet in question:

And this was has comment on Facebook:

The comments that ensued saw a lot of mildly upset warm up DJs getting mildly upset by what they perceived was a slight against them and their profession. Mistajam was keen and quick to point out that he acts as a warm up DJ too, so was offering friendly advice rather than a critical panning to the hordes of blokes who spend their evenings in clubs up and down the country banging it out to quiet crowds before the main attraction arrives.

Warm up DJing is a noble thing, a genuine art, a skill that takes immeasurable skill to be able to pull off successfully. It doesn't just mean pissing about on the mixer while a few bored, uncomfortable, socially challenged blokes stand on different parts of the dancefloor, heads down, waiting for another DJ to turn up so they can stand slightly closer to other people on the dancefloor. It means being able to set a pace, a mood, a vibe, curating the evening's atmosphere while it's in its infancy. It takes talent. You haven't got talent? No worries — here's five essential tips for anyone who wants to be a top tier warm up act for the rest of their lives.

This is not actually what you look like, btw.

1) REMEMBER THAT YOU'RE LITERALLY NOTHING AND NO ONE ACTUALLY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU DO, OR HOW YOU DO IT

As a warm up DJ, you've got to face facts: no one's here to see you. Even the few friends you've dragged out of the pub aren't in the club to watch you play. They've come out of a sense of silly sentimental attachment and the promise of a few free drinks. You might as well be an iPad for all anyone cares. Rather than letting that hurt your feelings, embrace it. Be the best fucking human iPad you can, be an iPad with a heart and a set of genitals and a few good tunes. Accept that no one wants you there. Be at one with your innate pointlessness. Just stand there watching people not dancing. Smile through the misery and the pain and the thousand existential crises you'll face every time you turn up to a club to play records to empty rooms. This is who you are. This is your life now. This is it.

2) RESPECT THE OTHER DJS

LISTEN UP YOU LITTLE FUCKING SLUG. YOU'RE THERE TO MAKE THESE OTHER GUYS LOOK GOOD AND DON'T FORGET THAT. YOU GOT THAT? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU'RE ONLY HERE BECAUSE I TOLD YOUR MUM — WHO I'VE SHAGGED BY THE WAY — THAT I'D LET YOU DJ A BIT JUST TO GET YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE? DON'T FUCKING CRY, LAD. COME ON. DON'T. YOU'LL WATER DOWN THAT PINT. PLEASE STOP. PLEASE STOP CRYING.

3) STAY HUMBLE

It's all too easy to get an ego the size of Donald Trump's after smashing the fuck out of the 8.15-9.15 slot at the SU before handing the headphones over to the dude in third year who you think studies Sociology and has every girl on campus praying for an Instagram like and letting him genuinely smash the fuck out of it. You walk around club after club safe in the knowledge that everyone in the room's thinking, "Hey, that's mad, that's the guy who was DJing earlier when we walked into the club room and promptly when straight back upstairs because it was empty and depressing and he was playing to no one and he looked really, really crushed inside, but was trying to hide it, but he evidently wasn't hiding it every well because he still looked really crushed inside and I don't even know him so to look crushed to a stranger suggests he was definitely totally crushed inside, and yeah, I want to buy him and drink and take him home!" That is definitely what's happening. Definitely.

4) MAKE SURE YOU LOOK REALLY COOL

You'll probably be the first person the punters see and if they see a sadsack behind the decks they'll likely fuck off to the Lloyds No.1 round the corner. Get your best flame shirt on. Gel that hair. Strap on those market stall Chuck Talylors. You gotta look cool, man.

5) DON'T BOTHER PLAYING DECENT TUNES EVER BECAUSE NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOU

Mistajam's got a point. As someone who's a shit warm up DJ himself, I've learned to never bother actually playing good records because most of the time you're playing to a few bored barmen and the "sound bloke" who stinks of Old Holborn and cum, who spends most of the evening telling you to "fucking turn it down, alright mate" before vanishing into the ether leaving a trail of olfactory offensiveness in his wake. As a result, keep it low key. Play the kind of tunes the headliner won't play because they're a headliner so they don't bother playing really boring, low-key tunes you ripped from some weird Russian YouTube account devoted to mitteleuropean tech-house at 128kbs. That wicked John Cooper Clarke edit you wanted to drop? Don't bother, mate. Don't fucking bother.

Follow Josh on Twitter for more advice.

Tagged:
Thump
funny
DJing
Warm Up
MistaJam
warm up dj