Wedding Disco: What ruins a potentially great Disco!

A good disco is and will always be based on the crowd. A tough crowd means a tough disco. However, there are factors that can create this effect, and those factors are not always controllable.

Things that may possibly ruin an evening disco!

Timing!

I don’t mean how long the disco is, as I have had a few that I have DJ’d for about an hour, and still been amazing. Likewise terrible nights too.

What day your party is plays a huge part of the night. If you have a hen or stag night and twenty mates go with you, and during said night you all end up in a club screaming Sweet Caroline at the top of your voices, you’ll want a weekend. If not, and you want a nice evening with family and a few friends… Pick a weeknight. With weeknights, most people work. So they don’t tend to drink a lot, or stay late. The thought that you have work the next day, stops you wanting to go a little bit further, mainly as you know you have to go to work the next day. Weekends, on the other hand, are the end of the week. Let your hair down. It’s why 90% of venues charge more, most popular evenings are weekends, as more people are likely to spend lots on booze.

Payday also plays a role, can’t spend money you don’t have yet. Mid month or end of the month tend to be a little quieter due to saving penny’s until payday. This can affect the dance floor. Remember though, if you have friends and family who enjoy life without alcohol, it doesn’t matter what day, they’ll dance regardless.

Weather!

You’d expect the sunnier the weather the better the party, right? Not necessarily. If it’s warm and sunny, and you have a nice beverage, you tend to enjoy the weather by sitting outside. This is great if that’s where you want the evening entertainment to be, but if not, the dance floor will be empty until the temperature cools down a little. Rain, on the other hand usually the dampener of spirits during the day, allows for the energy to be provided by the disco in the evening. Either way, the DJ can work with it, just be prepared to enjoy an evening outside if it’s lush weather.

Buffet.

When the buffet opens, the dance floor closes.

Remember that old Christmas jumper someone bought you, and you wore it that one year to keep them happy but it’s now living in the bottom of your wardrobe, alone, forgotten, and you haven’t thrown it out because you fear if you do they’ll ask where it is? Yep, that is how the dance floor is when the buffet opens. Left. It’s perfectly fine though, the forty five minutes of chill time between first dance / opening disco, to main party, gives you and your guests a breather and time to fill up before the main event. You’ll find most people will only dance after the buffet, as it’s like an order. First, bar for drinks, then food from the buffet, then dancing. Perfectly normal for the dancing to stop, while people feed.

Children.

I will say it before my point. I do not dislike children. On that note, more than three and the party vibe struggles to start. Kids are great, fun, and happy but, as soon as the music starts and they run around the whole room, burning all their energy from the sweets or endless squash they have been given, they take up ‘the space’ people would normally dance in. It could be compared to trying to dance at a funfair, in the dodgems arena, while the hardcore bumpers are driving. It’s a little off putting.

I have DJ’d weddings where the kids have brought life to the party, playing music for them (effectively a kids party playlist before buffet) warms the room up. However, I’ve noticed that it is when the kids have gone, the dancers get up. Before that, they live at the bar.

Poor playlist choices and songs played at the wrong times.

Yes, choosing songs is half the battle. I cannot stress enough that song choices and when to play the ‘bangers’ (Mr Bright-side, never before 10pm!!!) is important to a disco. Telling the DJ to play these early is like asking a marathon runner to sprint the first 5 miles…it burns the party vibe out too soon. Yes, it is a belter, yes people will rush to dance to it, but no at the start of the disco, they won’t stay there to dance.

A basic Fozzy Follow chart:

There is an order to which I have tried and tested, and it seems to work really well. I tend to start with newish stuff. Some new songs are loved by all ages, which allows for all to dance. Then, I move into the oldies music. The good stuff. This is where I may play a Motown set. I find that parents with children, and the older generation leave before 10pm or 11pm. So, I play to them first. When 10pm comes around, I read the room to who is remaining. That’s where either rock or hip hop come out, or possibly RnB. The dance tracks, I mean Ibiza anthems, come at either 11pm or midnight. By then all the ravers are nicely drunk and go mental for a good DJ dance set. I even throw in some Garage for good measure. Then, end the night with a list I call Sing Along Drunks. If you make a playlist for your DJ, please let them be flexible enough to use your list their way, to try and keep the party flowing. Playing songs like Sex On Fire at the start of the night maybe your way to get everyone up, but unless you have a whole set list to keep them up, trust us to know what we’re doing.

Final thoughts.

No one can guarantee the dance floor will be rammed all night. That takes a group. You guests. If they want to come with us DJs on a musical journey, a good DJ will lead them. And all will be amazing. But, as life is the way it is, hurdles will crop up and cause some issues. Sometimes, we misread a room, and play a song that should and normally rocks the room, and that song in this moment may cause people to go to the bar, or just sit and watch. We’re only human after all.

But factor in all the variables before deciding the DJ is a fault for an empty dance floor. Sometimes, it could simply be too hot.

Disclaimer: I am a professional events and mobile DJ of five years, mostly weddings, all in four star and five star hotels and venues. I pride myself in providing the best service and experience I can for the Bride, Groom, and their guests.

Wedding Disco: Should you or your guests provide a playlist for the DJ?

DJing weddings is not as easy as it sounds. Getting the first dance right, father/daughter dances… In fact, Christmas parties are the easiest, as the punters are already drunk before you even plug in your first light. So you don’t really have to do much. In my opinion, weddings are the toughest there is. I’m gonna give you a few pointers as to what to do, why to do it, and the best way to support your DJ to get the best night out of it. Obviously, read my blog on Wedding Disco: What ruins a potentially great Disco! for other reason’s why a wedding disco could be bad.

Why is it a good idea that you, the Bride & Groom, provide the playlist for your wedding?

And, why not!

It is your wedding!

Of course, the first point it is your day, you get what you want. Don’t let cousin Jeff have his tunes from his band ruin a great vibe when their music would probably be beaten in the charts by pneumatic drill. However, providing a list of songs for the DJ to work through throughout the night is fantastic. It gives us an idea of what you like. For example, if you give us three of four songs from 2000’s that feature RnB artists, then we can work out what songs we can add to your list that will enhance your night. Having a list, and told to only play off the list, is like asking a 100 meter runner to wear steel toe boots for his final race. He could run it fine, but he isn’t gonna win any medals.

We will play only off your list, but ensure the guests know the music has been chosen by you. So pick really good songs!!

It helps you trust the DJ will play songs you like.

As I mentioned, having a list allows the DJ to ‘float around’ genres, eras, and artists that fit into your list while you have the faith the list will be played. I mean, most of the night you are gonna be so busy enjoying yourself you probably won’t here that SpiceGirls song you love, doesn’t mean the DJ didn’t play it. Plus, there are some DJ’s that think they are hired for being them, and play what they want…and are usually better placed on the side of a road, in the desert.

Some DJ’s are absolutely terrible!

Oh, my, word…I was a guest to a wedding once, and I felt like kicking the guy off the stage and taking over. He was terrible, talked on the mic after every song..not coherently I’ll add. Muffled noise, followed by the same song he played ten minutes ago. He sat on a chair looking like he would rather be thumbing through a newspaper with a pipe in his gob. Had a woman sat next to him who looked like she was judging the whole room. Really showed me I have a great presence and character when performing. Because, it is a performance. So please, provide a playlist if you have never done either of these three things;

  1. Met the DJ
  2. Read a review
  3. Been to one of their disco’s

Sometimes a friend or relative will recommend a DJ, but then you provide a playlist. Remember that bit…provide a playlist. I was once recommended, and the person who recommended me is still up in my top 10 discos I have ever done. I digress, the person who recommended me told me three artists they like, and said “ooo, I love a bit of 80s and Motown”. This was plenty for me to go and rock their party. However, when I was booked via recommendation, and given a “only play off this” list, you can imagine the night had top ten value moments, but other times felt more like a empty room had more life due to how restricted I was. During the night, when the organiser asked why their friend’s party was better, I didn’t lie, I told them. No playlist meant I could DJ. The reply was: Scrap the playlist, lets party…so we did.

Recommended tips:

  • If you can, always meet the DJ. Either face to face, through a wedding showcase, or simply through social media. Trust me, their Instagram or FaceBook posts should tell you how their parties go.
  • Always try your best to give a list of songs, but remember to allow the DJ to chose if certain songs are not to be played and allow them to add songs, or play ‘around’ your list. This means to put songs in that work with your list, and will keep the party going. This is the bit you are paying them to do. Otherwise, you could hire a sound system and play a personal playlist. Of course, if there is a song or two you really want, highlight them, they most probably will be ace.
  • Don’t request: Mr Bright-side, Uptown Funk, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, or Don’t Stop Me Now. They are already in 99% of DJ’s arsenal as strong songs. Requesting them too soon or too late, means the dynamic of the evening changes. For a nice flow to the evening, if you request any of these, they will be played, but timing is everything. Playing Mr Bright-side early, means the energy of the evening will either burn out too soon and everyone will be knackered from dancing like loons from the start, or no one will dance because they’re not ready. Most like to be tipsy, and have eaten a plateful of buffet before getting up.

Final thought.

If you want to ask your guests to request songs on your invites, that is fine. Remember that you are giving control of your evening party to them. If they chose songs that are boring, or inappropriate but you have said they need to be played, we will play them. Sometimes, it is best to be worked between Bride and Groom, and the DJ.

Disclaimer: I am a professional events and mobile DJ of five years, mostly weddings, in a variety of hotels and small venues. I pride myself in providing the best service and experience I can for the Bride, Groom, and their guests.

Screenplay/Script Writing.

Something that didn’t occur to me when attempting writing a screenplay, was to think visual. In a book, the situation is described to you in a certain tense. Past, present, future. Depending on the perspective.

I’m learning that screenplays and scripts are designed to give a visual description of what you would see in screen, with the addition of audience movements and sounds. It seems that instead of a book giving details about why a character is the way they are, it gives brief descriptors.

When it comes to scripts, if feels almost like a comic book. Describe a tile, dialogue, movement, repeat.

Cue step number 2 in this endeavour

A friend of mine sent me a script, and a plan. The plan is to win a competition for a very well shot action sequence.

Knowing my talent and, well my imagination, he asked if I would be available to film the scene. I told him I would be up for helping.

Thats when I read, reread, and read his script some more. I can see it. in my head, how I want it to look. How it will feel, where the action sets are, where the best story telling pieces are. Where we can add drama, where we can add tension. So I wrote a story board for it.

Directorial Debut is in 3 days.

SxSWales Launch Party: The Review!

Useless Filler Content:

Wednesday 8th May saw the final project of my university journey end with support for my friend, and mentor, Sam Bradshaw.

Four years ago, I wanted to improve me. I wanted to be someone else, something else. My dream of working with children and becoming a teacher, as one was the case, was set in motion when I met Paige. She showed me a place I could meet people and gain the necessary knowledge to move forward.

Fast forward a year, and teaching was gone from my dream pool, and was replaced with nothing. I did not know. Creative Music technology (CMT) appealed to me as it was everything I was. A course that was build or tailored and suit me. A jack of all trades course. This, coupled with Sam and his DJ enlightenment, brought me here. One of the heralds of the SxSWales Festival.

My Role:

It was up to me to hire the best of the best for the launch party. To bring a new and exciting experience to the students of University of South Wales (USW), and launch the SxSWales festival into orbit. Well, into full swing in The Zen Bar.

Knowing the venue usually put on live acts, I decided a DJ night was possibly the best, if not the easiest, to organise. Having me being able to fill the spot as back up should a DJ fail to be found. But I wanted the USW students to enjoy what inspired me into the folds of entertainment. After all, we are all creatives looking for inspiration, right? Enter DJ Sam Tweaks.

The Plan!

Due to university being the pinnacle of the overall event, we (CMT) wanted to ensure it all began at the university. We wanted the Zen Bar. We considered a ticketed event, but due to us wanting more ‘bums on seats’ it was decided the best option was for it to be free.

I was aiming to have an after party for when The Zen Bar was finished. This was originally planned for Porters, but due to cost and timings, timings being ten pm before anyone and costings being that Porters is not a ticketable venue, it was not viable.

The Allergies were consulted and were happy to play the event for us, but would have cost five hundred pounds to hire for the night. This would have been recuperated through sales, at a ticketable venue. This is an event for the future of The Mighty Fozzy Entertainment.

 

 

The Review!

The Good.

People:

Huge thank you to Lloyd George for his support with organising a sound engineer. The engineer was a real gentleman, and a wizard behind the desk. Provided everything the DJ needed, and it sounded great. He seemed to really enjoy the tunes.

The DJ (Sam), came along, played tunes all night and really enjoyed himself. No credit can be taken by me for that as he would have been doing it at home anyway. As he is a friend, h DJ’d the gig for free as a favour to me. This kept the cost of the event to £0. As per his normal performance, we were professional, dance, interactive with the audience. He worked really well with the sound engineer, and did everything that was expected.

The audience was typically that of the venue. Students came for happy hour then left for their assumed night out. The DJ had a set of songs ready for the period of power (term I am using for the part of the party where people are most likely to boogie). These were impactful.

Venue:

I had organised a parking space for the DJ, within the grounds of the university, so that he had easy access. The set-up space was plentiful, the access was great, and the people supportive. I have already mentioned the sound was fantastic, and stayed so throughout the evening. We also fed the DJ and he gratefully enjoyed his burger.

During the first hour, the DJ was playing mainly to people who had been in the venue as we arrived and were readying themselves to leave. Within this first hour, support from CMT came in the form of the Nostalgia team. They were there from the start till finish and I love them and want to say thanks to them for their support from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, guys. A few other classmates supported throughout the evening, but either came late, or left early. We all have lives, it is understandable and no problem at all that they only came for a brief moment. I did not go to any other event due to work commitments, so me being negative in this instance would be heartless.

Throughout the evening we had roughly sixty to seventy people through the door, students came and went. In relation to sales on EventBright, and yes I bought tickets from there for the Launch Party to, we had sixty pre-ticket sales in relation to the amount that came to the event. We have a visit from one of my DJ colleges, who had bought pre-tickets, and also a few friends of our lecturer? He was streaming it live on Facebook, so it was inevitable that his ‘friends’ would come say hi. Again, a huge thanks to Lloyd for being there throughout, and also to Matthew Evans for his support.

The music was great, the sound was great, the audience was expected.

 

 

The Bad.

Promotion:

To be honest, I could have promoted the night much more efficiently, and ‘spread the word a lot more proactively. The other teams put up posters and gave out printed tickets. I could have taken this approach, but due to the venue not really being a public venue, I was a little restricted. Being a NUS venue, I could have avoided this restrictively around the university campuses, included the other universities around Cardiff, and also leant a little more into the faculty members for an audience. Another avenue of audience would have been high school or secondary education lecturers. Given the genre of music, the venue, and how comfortable the Zen Bar is; it would have been a great opportunity to invite teachers to come and see what is on offer at the university as an extra curriculum activity so that when asked by their students looking at their futures, there was a genuine experience that could have been exploited.

Personal:

Being a DJ, I could have performed. I have the experience and ability and could have planned a performance from me. Being my profession, it would have been easy for me to tick this box for my portfolio, and also work as part of my performance assignment. There was missing introduction of the evening, so those members of the university who were there, did not realise who or what was happening. They would have known it was a DJ, obviously, but did not know it was part of the SxSWales Festival. This was my fault. It was my event, I should have at least introduced the DJ at the start, and said thank you at the end. My reason for not doing this is because as an events DJ, I believe the music does the talking. I priced up a banner, large enough to go form a backdrop for the DJ. The room itself could have been light or decorated a little more towards what the event was. Being vinyl, and the DJ having his own tracks, there could have been a merchandise stand for him to sell records. This would have at least given him a little revenue for the event. The live stream was good, but due to my set up, the original stream ended after two hours of streaming and I had to reinstate it. This meant anyone who was watching the event, parents of our students who live quite a few miles away.

 

 

Conclusion

The night was a successful gig and launch into the SxSWales festival. Lloyd looked to have a great time, as did DJ Sam and the minimal audience we had. The luxury of what we did was the live stream. Providing an online access to the gig from any and all portable devices. We had forty plus views throughout the evening. This was a great way for us to support DJ Sam, with a medium for others to view his work, a platform for him to play in an environment he is comfortable, and an easy system that is both affordable and user friendly. Thank you if you were part of this support system, and I hope you have a lovely day.

Foz

Live Streaming Project: A teensy little update.

Live Streaming Project: A teensy little update.

I have successfully streamed and recorded a trial run using my set up. It’s decent enough for a DJ, small production company, and even video casting.

The problems I have encountered, and how I will overcome them!

Back in year 1 of CMT I was introduced to hacking. May sound like I’m going to get your online details and steal your identity, but no. This particular type of hacking is in the form of technology based, physical equipment. I was introduced to Arduino… And Teensy.

Problem 1: The speed of the laptop I used for the test is actually terrible. It takes about fifteen minutes to load a basic program, like documents. I think the timer is about seven minutes when you right click, and that is a long time to wait for a simple menu. So, imagine what happened when I plugged in four rather powerful webcams. Fantastic guess there guys, yep, you are right. None worked. To overcome this, and if you have similar issues, I recommend you try this first, I had to lower the resolution down to almost watch face size. The results though, the lower the resolution, the more of the cameras worked. When I had the resolution at 1364 x 768, only one camera worked. Two worked at 908 x 512, and when I got to 496 x 278 I had all four cameras working. However, as you can imagine, 496 x 278 picture quality is that of opening your eyes under water. We’ve all done it, and it’s fuzzy. Yeah, you could see the pictures, but it was not the quality I was after.

Problem solved! So to speak.

Problem 2: Changing scenes without using the laptop. Open Broadcast Software (OBS) is free to use and as of yet, I have not found a suitable controller for scene switching…or have I?

I have set up my scenes and used the in software ‘HotKeys’ to set up numbers 1 through 4, 9, and 0, to represent scenes. 9 is the stream take-over, which is a scene that is basically the thumbnail that shows to allow viewer to see the stream will begin soon. 0 is the end credits or after scene. And 1 through 4 are various camera angles sent up. For example, one camera has been cropped on two scenes, as it’s a wide shot if covers two people on a sofa. By cropping the shot on two separate scenes, I can use one camera for two angles. Win!

But, I’m stuck with the laptop camera being available but, it just watches the person directing. Insert Teensy here!!!

I’m gonna build one. I’m going to use a teensy I bought for a past project, program it to allow buttons to send a keyboard signal, probably numbers. This way, the scene changes can be controlled by the host of a live broadcast, much like most video tubers have. Obviously mine will be a lot lower budget, and made out of what ever I have available to had. The first trial run of this will be on May 5th, for the marathon, mentioned in another blog.

Problem 3: I’m having a little trouble with audio. Getting sound into OBS is easy, also I have microphones and a USB mixing desk so that is all good to. However, having the mics in frame, is not the professional look I’m aiming for. I want them either off camera, or completely hidden/blended in with the scene. I’m probably going to go with lapel microphones, with extension cables to the mixing desk. Each extension will be in place before the guests, actors, tubers, are in place, with all levels tested. This is not the best way to get the best sound out of the situation, but as mention many times, I’m aiming to be affordable to people like me, who just want to do what the professionals do, but to an average Joe budget.

The Controller

The design is simple. A teensy, six buttons, a few cables, and a hand holdable case…to which I have an old harmonica that is broken, but has a useful case.

The Plan: Once the coding of the teensy is done and tested to ensure it controls 0, 9, and 1 through 4 on a standard qwerty keyboard, I will drill a few holes in the box to fit the teensy, buttons, and USB cable. Then, I’ll temporarily attach everything and test it. Once happy, I’ll glue and re-glue all the bits inside the box, and then before completion, I’ll cover the box in sticky back decorative plastic or stickers, and glue it shut. I’m still deciding if I’m going to ‘pad out’ the inside to give it some dexterity while being held. This will be decided during test phase.

UPDATE 1: I failed with this, I wired the buttons wrong. So, I found a Twitch Switch tutorial on YouTube, and I’m going to follow that.

UPDATE 2:

I bloody did it. Well, huge thanks to www.nuts&bots.com for the tutorials, design, and code.

Here is the fully working, progression photo blah blah for ya. Enjoy. Also, if you want one, email me, and I’ll build you one to.

Yep. I branded it too. 😂