Uplighting: Why Mobile DJs Should Care About Basic Lighting Aesthetics

Mobile DJs often spend a lot of time fussing about how their setup looks (we’re looking at you, Bad DJ Setups group on Facebook) – but what about the rest of the room? At weddings and other events, some really basic uplighting can make an event feel incredibly more immersive. In today’s article, 20+ year veteran mobile DJ Jon Strader shares his advice on uplighting at mobile gigs.

Why Offer Uplighting As A DJ?

Uplighting in a large hall
Great uplighting can make even more “generic” spaces look special…

The way that things often work for mobile DJs is that there are a number of equipment services they can offer to clients – and uplighting is an easy one to tackle. But why should a DJ – who is largely focused on music – care about the lights in the rest of the room? It’s the wow factor. The presentation. The enhancement of the venue’s architecture to ultimately give a better experience while providing a certain atmosphere to the event.

There are two sides to it:

  • Uplighting creates a mood, and it brings a vibe.
  • With the proper lighting options, you could even be looking at close to, if not, doubling your rates. You’re offering something to your clients that they might not have even realized exists that can be included right in with your DJ services.

What To Look For In Types Of Lights for Uplighting

The Chauvet Freedom Par Hex-4

When looking into which brands and types of lights to purchase, there’s a boat load of options out there. I personally use the Chauvet Hex-4 line – which at $350/unit aren’t exactly cheap, but they’re well worth it. Here’s why:

These are are completely wireless units, battery life is magnificent, and when used with the Chauvet FlareCON / App, you have complete control over your lighting and the show with either your phone or an iPad.

These units offer the best color palette: RGBAW-UV. This sequence of letters means that the colors available for mixing and blending are Red, Green, Blue, Amber, White, and Ultra Violet (blacklight) – the full spectrum. There are other versions of lighting out there that will only offer a few of these color choices. I like having the option of being able to use and match any color out there.

I personally find that in the age of long-lasting battery powered units, it’s best to try and steer away from plug-in units. Here’s why:

  • outlets can be super limited in venues – meaning you’ll have to bring tons of extension cables to make sure you can place them well
  • cables make for a tripping hazard, every wedding’s biggest nightmare

Cheaper Options: If you don’t care as much about the wireless control functionality (or have your own wireless DMX adapters) it’s worth looking at other slightly cheaper battery-powered offerings. Two options: Blizzard’s LB Hex Unplugged (~$200 on Amazon) or Chauvet DJ’s EZpar 56 ($169 on Amazon). Note that the EZpar is simple RGB, no amber, white, or blacklight there.

A Few Additional Uplighting Tips

Placement is key. Sometimes less is more depending on the size of the room. Consider placing them evenly around the room, or accenting architectural elements (pillars, arches, etc). It’s called uplighting – so make sure that the light has a nice amount of upwards splash along the wall! Avoid the all-too-common mistake of just pointing them right at the wall without stepping back and checking what it looks like.

Color-matching can be a really nice touch at weddings that have specific hue pallets.

For color choices, look at the tones of the room. Maybe your client even wants a specific color – try asking them! I’ve matched the color of bridesmaid’s dresses, to the sunflowers that were the centerpiece on all the tables.

How To Make Investing In Lights Worth It

Taking the plunge on adding a full array of lights can be pricey, but if you’re regularly doing mobile gigs and talking about adding on uplighting packages, you will end up making your money back ten fold. It’s a great investment that not only separates you from others, but really adds to your DJ service options, which can take you to that next level and lock in more gigs.

You can even start by renting lighting from local A/V companies or maybe even your DJ friends if available. There’s a few DJs in my network, and we all have the same brand of lights. This way, we can all help each other depending on the size of the event and the amount needed.

Want to see more visuals and clips of uplighting at multiple venues that I’ve done? Check out my Story archives on Instagram.

Jon Strader is a mobile event DJ based in Massachusetts – find him on Instagram or Facebook.

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