Hiring a dj for a school dance

Hiring a dj for a school dance


Each district has their own way to hire a dj. Often times it is easier to be an employee of the district to avoid the red tape. A prospective dj often times will have to be fingerprinted, and fill out paperwork and may need insurance. Especially for middle schools there seems to be more red tape than high schools. More often than not, high schools require a contract and an invoice so the dj can be paid.


Hiring a younger 20 year old dj versus an over 30 dj:


Positives: closer to the age of the dancegoers so very familiar with the music.

Negative: Not as much experience. May bring entourage and those helpers were not fingerprinted.


Over 30 dj: More experience doing big events. Bigger music library. No entourages.  Usually higher end equipment since been working longer. There was a time I was able to do a school dance since their dj did not have working equipment. I was surprised since it is important to have back ups to your back ups.


Negative: Not as familiar with music.



Once a dj is selected for a school that is when it is time to be prepared. Typically schools are into what is playing on the radio. Some schools are hip-hop based or some are pop/ house based. I have seen times where it felt like a (edm)rave then a year or two later it was back to hip-hop. What makes a dance a good one is the playlist. 


Playlist: This is when teamwork is needed. Dj has to contact the activities director (the one who hired you) to get a playlist. Its best to get it from multiple students and make it one list. Best to ask for it a week before so it gives the music man time to set up for it.  I have seen lists derived from one student and everyone would not be happy since they had no part in developing the list and the student has a particular tastes. Especially if the student does not really know what is hip. A good Dj knows his event. If the school population has a high Latin population it would be ideal to put some good Spanish music in the playlist.


Even though a song can be clean (without profanity) the content can be a little provocative. Its good to be familiar with the song before it’s played at the dance.


During the dance itself, it could be distracting to take requests when the dj is trying to beat match. It would be ideal to have a clipboard where students can put artists and the name of the song on an excel sheet or word document. When a song is playing the dj can mark the clipboard if the song is coming and check off the ones s/he already played it.  With a clipboard, it will avoid too many students going behind the dj area. If cabling and plugs, its ideal to have as few people in the dj area.

If a song is requested many times, then dj knows it will be a crowd pleaser. The question is can a song be played twice. When I djed at clubs that was one of my commandments. Thou shall not play a song twice.  But at school dances, then one can get away with it if you play it early then later in the dance. If it’s a real heater then maybe throw it in 3 times. But those songs are rare.