This is something I feel pretty strongly about and is a philosophy that I live and die with while spinning in the club:
When what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t panic!
Here’s what I mean…
I’m sure everyone of us has been in a situation where we switched genres and it didn’t go over so well. Imagine you’re playing Hip-Hop or Twerk and transition up to House. You look up and all the energy you saw a minute ago is gone. No one is really dancing, or worse, everyone who was dancing is gone. Keep two things in mind here….
1) This happens to everyone. Either this crowd is a bit different than you thought and for some reason doesn’t react to what normally works, or you took a risk and it just didn’t pan out for you. It happens.
2) It’s good you’re not oblivious to what’s going and you recognize the problem.
Now in my opinion, what you do next will have a huge influence on how people view you as a DJ. Human beings do have an animal instinct. We can sense fear and lack of confidence. So if you were to just scratch out of that one House song and go back to Hip Hop, you might as well just get on the mic, announce to the crowd that you fucked up, and apologize. (Note: To be very, very clear….don’t ever do that.) Instead, I’m a big believer that you should keep going with the House set, but just make it shorter than normal and try to think of a clever way to get out of it quickly.
I do understand this may be a little easier said than done. I’ve been doing this for a little while so maybe I’ve developed some confidence that some of you younger guys may not have just yet. But that’s not to say I don’t feel the same pressure when something isn’t working. I get it’s not easy when there’s hundred of eyes on you wondering why you’re playing a song they don’t like, or even worse, the club owner is in the booth to witness your unsuccessful attempt at a genre change. But I’m convinced that panicking and making a drastic change would be the worst thing possible. I really think the crowd (and workers) will take this as you admitting you messed up and may even start to think that by giving you negative vibes and feedback (i.e. dirty looks, the dreaded cut throat signal, and running to the both to tell you to switch it) that they can make you their jukebox.
Bottom line, as much as I believe the crowd can sense panic, I think they can sense confidence the same way. So by standing your ground in these kind of situations, I think you’re subliminally showing them that you know what you’re doing. Not that you’ll be able to get away with constant mistakes, but I think the appearance of confidence will at least buy you the benefit of the doubt from most club goers after one or two failed experiments and more importantly allow you to keep control of the club.
IMPORTANT: This is may not apply as much at private events….and definitely doesn’t apply when the person paying you tells you to switch it right away.