How to Set Up in a Club

Many of you out there are new to the game and starting to get gigs with your digital dj equipment. As a few readers have pointed out, frequently that gear does not really mesh well with the bread and butter setups clubs have installed. Showing up and plugging in equipment can be a nerve racking affair to begin with but if there is one thing MORE scary- its your first 30 dj gigs. So, if you want calm nerves and smooth sets with digital dj gear your going to need a game plan.

For the past 5 years I have setup my laptop, sound card and midi gear in hundreds upon hundreds of clubs around the world. From a traditional Tico dance hall in Costa Rica to techno clubs in Berlin, there was always a way to make it work. Here are a few helpful things I have learned upon the way.

First of all,

clubs have gotten much more understanding about digital dj gear. The first time I brought traktor 1.5 into Ruby Skye the sound tech told me “we don’t allow final scratch without 48 hours advance notice” I promptly told him to go jump in the shallow end of a lake. The point is, refuse to take any grief from punters that don’t know anything about your craft. Respectfully explain to them that the setup will be very simple (10 minutes top) and if needed, you would be happy to set up before the club opens. If that does not work, tell him your new fancy dj tech tools vci-100 is going to make his patrons buy triple the normal amount of booze. Look very convinced of this, and he will now allow you to set up anything you want.

1)create a digital dj bag

that keeps all your needed cables inside at all times. Only take them out to setup and and put it right back when you are done. That includes an extra power supply for the laptop. It would be VERY embarrassing to tell you how many times I had to put on a 15 minute mix CD and rush back to the house to get my power supply. Fortunately San Francisco is small.

2)space will be limited

so always pack a laptop stand for your midi gear OR my old standard: a piece of grey foam cut to size. I placed this right on top of the turntables to provide a level, slip proof surface and it worked out quite well.

3)use the CD player’s

RCA cables to get your signal into the mixer. Instead of bringing your own cables, bring 1/4″ to RCA Barrel plugs (if you have 1/4″ outs) and plug the CD lines directly into your sound card. Running cables into the mixer takes 75% of the time and hassle in setting up and is frequently when you have the margin for error.

4)get your sound card

and software up and running before you leave for the club. Then all you have to do is open up the programs without any opportunity for settings to get mixed up.

5)if you can- go to the club

before they open. Especially if this is your first time in the place, getting there early will GREATLY reduce your stress and make you appear much more professional. Call it a “Sound Check” and your an instant rock star. 🙂

6)if sound check is not possible

bring a few short options of pre-mixed music. usually 3-4 songs is sufficient. Then instead of setting up while the opening dj is trying to mix (which is very in-appropriate) you can pop in a CD and take your time after he has exited the booth.

7)don’t drink!

Booze is free and plentiful and may even be your only form of payment. If your new to the game,drinking will only make things even more confusing. At least wait till the end of your set when your in the groove to crack open a Heineken.

8)bring a USB penlight.

The lighting always sucks!

9)now take a deep breath

relax and let the songs play themselves. You will do great.

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