Although I have DJ’d at probably over 1000 school dances since 1986, I’m not sure I was prepared for one particular youth gig: being a chaperone at my daughter’s middle school dance. She asked me earlier that day via text and I reluctantly agreed. I say reluctantly only because I had a very busy day ahead of me and wasn’t sure if later I would be up for 250 kids bouncing off the walls, loud music and the general craziness of a middle school dance. Luckily, that wasn’t exactly what I was about to experience.
I knew going into it that the school usually had students or a teacher DJ their dances, so I wasn’t going to have to put up with a loud-mouthed DJ with a sound system way too large for the gym, nuclear-powered lights that would fill every corner of the room, including the refreshment table where I would probably be pouring lemonade and giving out cookies to the students.
My company had been trying for more than 10 years to get in at this school with only minor success, some years ago. They had hired us a couple of times and loved us, but couldn’t find a budget for even the minimal $250 we were charging at the time.
I walked into a mostly empty gym to find a teacher setting up a sound system borrowed from the choir room. (Which I found out at the end of the night when I helped tear it out, mainly so that I could see what she was using.) The P.A. system consisted of two speakers on the stage, and a heavy old Peavey amp/mixer combo (probably an earlier generation of the XR series). Hooked up to that was a wired microphone and one of the school’s nice MacBook Pros. The teacher was DJing from iTunes and played a nice selection of various artists, including Black Eyed Peas, Cupid, Casper, Village People, and some other current and older stuff. No mixing, just hard fades at the end of each song, but that wasn’t expected at this event.
As I found out later, it was my daughter’s math teacher who had volunteered for the duty and cranked up the music for the students. Overall she did really pretty well; not about to hire her to work for us, but for a teacher being a DJ and for the rate charged ($0.00), very good.
It all comes down to hiring a professional to do what they know how to do best. Although a teacher is best at teaching my kids readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic, where I’m only a helper on the side, there are many schools that for various reasons, mostly financial, will have a teacher DJ the dances.
One way we are trying to help the schools see how important having a pro is to offer our services at no charge the first time on a day that we have open. In other words, the idea is that if you hear they are having a dance, and it’s only less than a month away, and you are open, then offer your services for free. The only consideration to ask for is that after you show them what you can do, that they agree to a meeting with you to discuss their other dances.
And guess what: That’s what I have done with my daughter’s school. We’ll see the results soon.
Filed Under: Issue #143, School Dances
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