A DJ’s Guide To An Awesome New Year’s Eve Set

To wrap up the year, we’ve brought on venerable DJ Angelo from the UK to give us his tips and tricks on surviving and rocking a New Year’s Eve DJ set, as well as our usual tradition of finding some awesome and cheesy tracks for you to use on your parties tomorrow evening. Click through for this year’s guide to making the last night of the year the best night of your career!

Another Year At Its Close

Before I settle into some much-needed downtime and studio geekery for the next few weeks, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some tips from my own experiences for those of you set to DJ this New Years Eve. It can be a very daunting prospect, particularly for inexperienced DJs so I hope some of this information helps you shine on the night. If you’re a superstar DJ already, feel free to contribute some tips of your own in the comments below.

2011 may not have been the most “economically-inspiring” for any of us, however, I’m confident that the party spirit has endured, as tradition calls once more for the masses to unify in celebrating the biggest party event on the western calendar. A chance to seriously let loose and end the year on an ultimate high, so inevitably New Years Eve parties come with greater expectations than regular club nights, and can therefore demand more than usual from us DJs.

With Great DJing Comes Great Responsibility

A good DJ is always at the heart of the party and embraces the responsibility and challenge of ensuring his/her audience has the best time possible. This is no different for NYE, however, the change of circumstances may completely throw you off your game if you’re unprepared. Here are a few things to consider:

  • People go to a lot of effort for NYE – Apart from the obvious hype and anticipation that comes with NYE, committed party-goers are known to really push the boat out for this one-of-a-kind evening – whether it’s travelling great distances to party with friends, spending three or four times the regular club admission price, or perhaps investing their entire months wages in their outfit and bar tab. So understandably they will want to be guarenteed an unforgettable night in return.
  • Your crowd will have chosen to spend their evening with you – Particularly if you’re playing at a club, your audience’s decision to be on your dancefloor is premeditated which means they’ve opted not to spend their hard earned cash with one of your many competitors. With no shortage of options available to them , your crowd is likely to be more fickle than usual and may switch to another party unexpectedly.
  • NYE can draw out an unfamiliar crowd – It’s one of the few nights of the year that people are willing to travel to another city (even country), or perhaps the only night of the year that they will go clubbing or visit your particular venue, so you may not be playing to a crowd that you’re used to playing to.
  • People may party harder on NYE – Beware that your crowd may get even more drunk and even more wild than they would on any other night of the year, and with extreme partying can come a whole host of issues – the likes of which you’ve never seen before!
  • The peak of the night may be different to that of your regular night – you may be used to playing a set in a particularly order/format depending on when the club opens/closes, or when the club usually gets full etc, however, NYE is a night on it’s own schedule with the peak usually sitting between 11pm and 1am.
  • The club may open later than usual – Which may influence how you pace your set or require you to stock up on more music to maintain energy levels and keep the party going the distance.

The Best Party in Town

I’ve played my fair share of NYE parties over the years. Some of which have been awesome, whilst others forgettable, but all of them have taught me new things. The biggest lesson of them all is to be prepared for anything. There’s certainly no secret formula and NYE gigs will always differ depending on who you are and where you are playing, but here are some of my tried-and-tested survival tips from my own experiences:

  • Feel empowered – It may feel daunting but think of it as a privilege that YOU are responsible for making everyone have an awesome time on such an important night of the year. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to shine as a DJ.
  • It’s all about the crowd – NYE is a night when the crowd’s happiness is priority number 1. It’s not a time for you to be too clever with your track selection or mixing skills. Save that for another more appropriate time. People will expect to hear big tunes they know, and be prepared to repeat certain key tracks if you’re crowd changes throughout the night.
  • People will be in a good mood – Despite the high expectations, the majority of people will be in good spirit and will be actively looking to have fun and wanting the night to be great. You should feed off this which will help you to mirror their mood.
  • The dancefloor should be full – This is one night that you should have no problems getting people to dance. Your job will just be to keep them going all night and control the energy levels making sure that there are peaks and troughs in your mix. NYE might make you feel inclined to play a harder set than usual but be careful that you don’t tire out your crowd or peak the night too early. Keep them on their toes with genre changes and tempo changes which will help to keep the dancefloor refreshed, and everyone will regularly get to hear something they like.
  • Be open-minded – It’s one night of the year when your crowd will expect to hear classic party tracks from different eras and genres, and maybe a few guilty-pleasures thrown in (particularly if you have a diverse crowd). So depending on what your tolerance levels are(!), stepping out of your comfort zone and stocking up on some sing-along curveballs could do wonders for your set!
  • Take the crowd on a journey – You are responsible for hooking into your crowd’s mood, getting them worked up into a frenzy in the lead up to midnight and then, taking them over the edge with an appropriate climax on the stroke of midnight. Think big tunes of 2011 and before during the build up and prepare a huge track either side of midnight to fully capture the peak-time part mayhem! Don’t forget the dramatic countdown leading up to midnight, and perhaps an announcement (either on the mic or a pre-made audio sample) every half an hour in the lead up to midnight to build hype, anticipation, and to keep your audience fully locked into your set .
  • Have fun too – It can be easy for DJs to feel left out but some of the best NYE parties I’ve worked have been when I’ve let my hair down and been able to connect with the same vibe and energy that the crowd is feeling. I’m not saying that it’s completely necessary to drink alcohol (it helps!) but I would say that NYE is one night where you’re unofficially allowed to enjoy yourself at work a little more than usual and I’m sure you’d be forgiven for partying/drinking with the crowd. Crowd surfing might be pushing it though 🙂
Best of luck and go get ’em!
DJ Angelo

NYE Downloads and DJ Tools!

Everyone needs a good countdown. Try this simple one:
NYE Count Down Original Mix by DJ Luna_

What’s that? You were expecting something cheesier with a mix from Aud Lang Syne into this year’s club dance hit? Well, ok.
We Found Love On New Years Eve-Lowrey Edit-(CLEAN) by djmikelowrey
Oh, so you wanted something even more over the top? Try this three minute countdown on for size.
New Years Eve 2012, 3 Minute Countdown by KRCKRADIO
Finally, if you’re still nervous or need more resources for New Year’s Eve, we suggest that you take a look at some of our New Year’s articles from the past. Instead of having to dig them all up yourselves, check out the links below:

2010: Ean Golden and Charles Feelgood Tips + Awesome Midnight Countdown Downloads
2009: Bearable Holiday Tracks and Remixes + New Years Tools
2008: Ean’s Drinking on New Year’s Eve Tips


Just for fun, tell in the comments us about a New Year’s Eve DJ HORROR STORY that you’ve been a part of or seen happen! 

new years dj tipsnew years eve
Comments (22)
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  • Dreamr OKelly

    Hell with clubs. I got to play from 10pm to 4am ON THE BEACH! I love puerto vallarta!

  • Noelflava

    Good luck everyone out there playing tonight in the states! I already finished my NYE Set here in Bali last night, and it was Bangin! Wish this article was out yesterday but oh well! NYE happened 10 hours ago in Asia. Pumpin Pumpin!! 
    HAPPY NEW YEARS 2012 DJTT!! : ) 

  • Anthony Woodruffe

    Now for something a bit more constructive….

    DDTT seems mostly based around club DJing. Which is all well and good but the unsung heroes of the Mobile DJ segment frequent here too. NYE parties are closer to your average Mobile Gig than any other event in the year. The key thing to remember is that unless you’re a producer and people are coming to hear your compositions you’re going to be playing other people’s music, which is what DJs do right?. NYE means you’re there for the crowd and so be prepared to play the part of a jukebox from time to time. NYE is where people are going want to remember the good times and forget about the bad times. Spirits need to be kept high which gets tougher as the night goes on as alcohol is a depressant. This year I’m playing for the 3rd time at the same venue. A private party for around 350 guests. The age range is extensive and the gig you’re doing could well be the same. Everyone comes out to play on NYE so although it’s paramount you prepare tracks for the night make sure you can switch to genres which wouldn’t normally work at any other time of the year. Last year I prepared a best of 2010 set, which I had to cut short because a few people complained I wasn’t playing anything else. The floor was full but I knew they would dance to something from the 70’s which would also get other guests involved who weren’t very appreciative of David Guetta. A quick mix into Duck Sauce and we were on the road to 70’s disco and Boney M.
    Where’s this story going you may ask?

    It’s about understanding age groups and what makes them dance.  NYE is when you can play anything from Rock n Roll to Techno as long as it was a big hit and you believe the majority of the crowd know it and will be prepared to dance to it. It’s doesn’t have to be high tempo either because at 12 O’clock your night has only just begun and you’re music selection combined with appeasing to requests could well have people of all ages staying till a time they would normally get up.

    Connect with the crowd.
    Jiggles and count downs are all well and good but they will not have the same impact as picking up the microphone and counting with the crowd. Often; Djing is a them and you affair, until you interact with them and the mic is the best way for the crowd to realise there is actually someone controlling the music. If it’s important, announce it. Quickly announcing it’s 30,15,10,5 mins to go till 12 O’clock is pretty high on the priority list and it will help you connect with your guests.

    Have fun.
    Dance and enjoy the music too. Don’t concentrate on getting all those mixes beat perfect. Sometimes playing the whole song till the end will get you more appreciation than cutting it short, or remixing it on the fly. Seeing a happy DJ dancing, singing, clapping and full of joy, instead of an emotionless face staring at a screen, looking in cases for CD’s or vinyl or head down tweaking buttons and switches, will be far more effective in keeping the energy between you and the crown on a high.

    Hope the comment wasn’t too long.
    and have a great New Years Eve party
    whether you’re in front or behind the decks

    • Ean Golden

      most club djs also do some mobile work to so I would argue that a lot of our readers can use mobile advice as well. We try to be ballanced and speak to everyone but sometimes things can get a little club-centric. Thanks for the contribution. 

  • Anthony Woodruffe

    that 3 min count down is awful…. I didn’t make it to 2 minutes. Each to there own I guess but personally I found the yeahs and let’s goes just annoying.

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      definitely agree with you there! who’s the rapper with excessively annoying screaming voice?

      • DoubleD

        lil jon. i agree with both ya

  • Emil Beatsnatcher Brikha

    Hey guys, all of you who are DJing tonight. How about recording video of the countdown wherever you are playing, and posting it on DJTT? Happy New Year!

  • Djmikelowrey

    Cheesy!! I don’t know if thats a compliment or not!!  At least i made dj tech tools!! THANK YOU & HAPPY NEW YEAR!! …. P.S….your website is my home page keep up the excellent work!!

  • Dajokermusic

    Great article, I made my first public DJ’n apperance in nov, and at a show thurs last night I was ask to join a bill of 9 other DJ for tomorrow nigh. Cool part is I gonna DJ the bar from open to close, the other DJ’s are splitting time in the under age part of the club. Gonna be a busy night. Once again thanks DJTT for all the great help

  • joshuajclark

    3:05 of the over the top count down. Terrible jump there, not quite sure what was going on. Apart from that it’s not bad, just a bit hectic…

  • Matthew Gamespy

    Fantastic article at the perfect time. You guys always assist with keeping me in check! Thanks and 2012 looks very promising for the DJ industry.

  • SmiTTTen

    Well written and welcome! 

  • Jester

    Well I go on at 1am and am playing Progressive Psytrance. Have a great NYE guys, Jesse

  • 16b441khz

    I was just reading last yrs article that was posted for new yrs lol, great timing DJTT!! 😀

    • jon

      same. very bizarre

  • Djnujak

    Clicked on your site just lookin for these articles today! You guys rock!