Smart DJ Tips: Always Research Your Venues

March 7, 2018 by Jason Rubio

I’ll be honest, after so many years of DJing, and after playing at nearly every venue in the Austin and central Texas area, I got comfortable. Well, this past weekend, I learned a lesson: Always do your research on the venues where you will play. In our area, most venues are similar in size, and honestly, most of the time, unloading and setting up can be the same; it takes the same amount of time, the square footage is similar, etc. The drive time may vary, especially with Austin traffic! So we definitely have to plan ahead and be prepared for that. We usually map it out on Google Maps, if we haven’t been there before.

As DJs, you know your equipment and how long it takes you to set up and be ready. We usually arrive 2 hours before the start time of every event. We require this for all our DJ and photo booth staff, for any event. If we are providing a DJ and photo booth, or adding additional lighting, etc., then the time can be longer, of course. I hate to admit it, but I’ve gotten comfortable enough with my setup, that sometimes, I’ll simply look at the venue’s website for information, or maybe ask other DJs if they’ve ever been to the venue, to know what the load-in is like. Most of the time, this works perfectly fine; however, no one I knew had actually been to this venue.

Last weekend, however, this didn’t work so well. We went to a new venue that was fairly close by, and we actually went to the venue a few days before the event, to check it out. That day, however, we were not able to fully walk the venue, since they had a special event happening. We briefly looked around and saw the size of the reception room. I noticed that there were stairs, and was NOT happy about that since they weren’t just regular stairs. These were the stone landscape pavers, and they were not all even. Since there was an event, we didn’t get to fully walk around the entire area. I presumed that though these pavers were on the side where we were, there would most likely be a handicap ramp on the other side. Surely the venue would have to be ADA compliant since it was fairly new, I thought.

Well, the wedding day came and it was drizzling. Nothing too bad, but it was just enough to make the load-in harder and the area was becoming muddy. I thought, no problem, I’ll just go find the ramp and use my hand Rock n Roller R 16 cart and Grip n Gaff Bag (these things are truly a God-send for event service staff). Well, I walked around and of course, the one time I did not check out the venue thoroughly, there was not a ramp! We literally had to carry every piece of DJ equipment up the stairs, since the pavers were not close together, the terrain was very uneven, and there were tons of loose rocks, everywhere. 🙁 It took us about 1.5 hours just to lug all our DJ, photo booth, and extra lighting, all the way up. To top it off, it actually started raining!

Overall, it was a tough gig. The event was easy for us, once we ended the ceremony and got started. The hard part was the load-in, and of course the break-down and taking everything back down the stairs, one by one, after a long day. Not to mention the stairs were very wet and muddy.

Besides knowing what your load in is like, it’s good to check the venue out to determine the size of the area where you will be. It helps, so you know how much sound and lighting to bring. You don’t want to bring more than you actually need, or worse, not enough and risk not sounding good. Venue websites don’t always list their square footage, and pictures can be very deceiving. Some places look huge, online, and are small, and vice versa. So just be smart and research the venue ahead of time. If you can’t go in person, give them a call and ask the questions you need to. You’ll be glad you did!


Jason Rubio Jason Rubio (91 Posts)

Jason Rubio is the co-owner and founder of Austin’s Best DJs, a professional DJ & photo booth company that provides music and entertainment for hundreds of weddings and events in the Austin and central Texas area. Jason started his DJ career as a mobile DJ, at age 13, and has since DJ’ed thousands of events, providing music and entertainment for clubs, bars, radio, concerts, festivals and various other events. In addition to writing for Mobile Beat, Jason also writes “The DJ Insider,” and has been featured in Canadian Special Events Magazine, Wedding Planner Magazine, and numerous other sites and publications. Jason is also a graduate of Texas State University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education, as well as a Master’s of Public Administration, from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Contact Jason Rubio at

Filed Under: DJing Weddings, Event DJ Tips, Mobile DJ Business