A couple of weeks ago we talked about how to book DJ gigs abroad, and this week I want to wrap up the series on planning a DJ vacation by talking about what to do once you get to your vacation spot. Of course all of the DJ skills you’ve honed at home will be an asset no matter what country you’re in, but there are also a few extra factors to be aware of when you’re travelling, so here’s what you need to do to ensure your DJ vacation is a success.
Travelling Light: What Gear to Bring
Once you’ve got some foreign connections lined up, you can start thinking about what to pack. And unless you’re going to be playing some huge stadium dates, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll want to bring your whole DJ rig with you. So what are your options?
The first option is to learn to DJ with just a laptop. This is a good option for beginners and those on a budget, as well as anyone who wants to do the whole “backpack around Europe and be a DJ at the same time” thing.
In order to learn to DJ with just a laptop, you’ll need to change your MIDI mapping so you can control everything easily from your keyboard. You’ll also want to spend some time getting comfortable with your keyboard shortcuts for whatever software you use. With this setup, it’s crucial that you have a proper DJ soundcard, as this will give you much better audio quality than simply plugging a splitter cable into your headphone jack.
Another option is to bring a portable controller like the Numark DJ 2 Go. This gives you some more functionality, and will probably make your performance more interesting since it helps show that you’re really moving knobs and faders around and not just checking your email. Bringing a portable controller also means that you won’t have to change up your performance too much if you’re used to DJing with a controller already.
Finally, don’t overlook your iPhone or iPad, since, as we discussed last week, there are lots of great DJ apps you can use on your mobile device to spice up your DJ set. This way you can learn to DJ with just a laptop, and still add some extra elements without having to lug too much gear around.
Playing it Safe: What to Put on Your Set List
When playing gigs in a new location, the best way to prepare is to learn as much as you can about the place you’re going to, especially when it comes to what sort of music is popular there. The same club hits that go over great in your hometown might totally bomb on the other side of the world. If you take the time to discover some local hits, it shows that you really value the culture you’re visiting, and spinning these hits during your set can really help to win over the local crowd.
You can also throw in some of your hometown favourites that may be unfamiliar to the local crowd as a way to add some exoticism to your set, but pay close attention to the dance floor and be ready to switch back to the local hits if you see that you’re losing the crowd. Make it known that you’re an outsider, but don’t stand out like a tacky tourist with a fanny pack and a Hawaiian shirt.
Wrapping Up: How to Make Sure You’re Invited Back
No matter where in the world you’re DJing, the same basic rules of conduct apply. Namely, show up on time, have a good attitude, and if you can, bring some friends who are willing to buy a few drinks and keep the bar happy. Even if you’re travelling by yourself, you’ll probably meet some travel buddies along the way, so why not invite them to your gig and ask them to help you get the dance floor moving? This, along with the relationships you’ve already established by following the tips in Part 1 of this series, will mean that you have a pretty good chance of getting invited to play the same clubs again, which will make things much easier when it comes to planning your next DJ vacation.
Once you learn to DJ with just a laptop or find a portable DJ controller that fits in your travel bag, you’re set for your DJ vacation. If you do your research ahead of time and leave lots of time for planning, you may be able to cover your trip expenses with the money you make playing DJ gigs, or if you’re really lucky, you might even come home with a little cash. In any event, you’ll at least be able to say that you’re now an internationally-renowned DJ!
Before you head off on your trip, why not brush up on some of your DJ skills with some lessons on cool DJ tricks that will help you get noticed when you play your international gigs? Or, check out our videos on promotion and getting gigs for some more ideas on how you can get gigs in other countries.