Why leave too much to chance?
When you are playing a gig, there will be many things that are completely out of your control: weather, club manager's mood, electrical failures, crazy club-goers, etc. Do not obsess over these things. Instead, focus on what you can control. The preparation you do for your gig is one of these things.
1. What is expected of you? Find out when you are supposed to be there, when you start, when you stop, and who your point of contact is at the venue. Now, you would think that the club manager or promoter who booked you would give you all this information up front. Oh how wrong you would be!!! Sometimes you have to beg, threaten, and wheedle even these basic points of information about the gig that you are supposed to play at! It's happened to me. It will happen to you.
2. Recon - the Army does it, and you should too! Where are you playing? If it is a brand new venue, or in another town, or both, do some recon. While a new club in a new area is not enemy territory, a few less unknowns can help the night go smoother, with you and your audience having more fun. Some things to think about: How are you getting there? Where will you park? If you are taking the bus or subway, will it still be running at 3am when you stagger out? If not, how are you getting home? Do DJ's and the staff come in through the main customer entrance, or is there an unmarked door in the alley that you should come in and out of? Also, if the club is new, seriously consider either getting their very early on the night of your gig, or going as a guest a few nights prior and getting the layout of the place. Where is the DJ booth? (It's hidden out of sight in some clubs, or right in plain sight in others). Where can you stash your gear that's safe and secure? Bathrooms- you'll want to know where they are. Go early, before they turn into hazardous waste sites....ew.
Ok - you've gotten your itinerary, and done your recon. You aren't done yet. On to the music, which is the most important part of the night!
3. What music are you expected to play? Some clubs operate with very strict music policies. Know them, and follow them if you want to get paid and get asked back again. Wednesday night might be disco night, Thursday is polka, Friday is dubstep, etc. On the other hand, some clubs give much more leeway to the DJ's. This is a good thing, but respect why the club exists. They are there to make money, and as much of it as possible. It might not be the best venue to do a 4hr exploration of industrial b-side's from 1986 to 1991, unless that is the niche of the night. In which case, feel free to play Front 242's "Welcome to Paradise." Clearing the floor and keeping it clear, or worse yet, causing people to leave early is no way to get asked back. Now, in theory (hahahahaha!), the person who booked you has some idea of what type of music you play. Now is the time to be pro-active. Call or email them and say, "I plan to play three hours of face-melting DnB and dubstep, are you cool with that?"
Hope these tips help people out there. I learned these because some of them happened to me, or to people I know, or I have read about them on cool sites like www.DigitalDJTips.com. This list is by no means comprehensive, but by following it and paying attention to things that you can control, you can minimize your own jitters, have more fun, give a better music experience to the club goers, and increase your chance of getting asked back.
Next up - whipping that lazy mule of a playlist into a dancefloor slaughter machine......