Does a DJ set have to be perfect? - Features - Mixmag

Does a DJ set have to be perfect?

Everyone loves smooth transitions, but they aren't always the be-all and end-all of a good set

  • Harrison Williams
  • 29 June 2017
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If DJs are being spontaneous, not using software and are pushing themselves to keep the crowd guessing, mistakes can happen. It’s only human. This goes back to the original point our good friend m.O.N.R.O.E made at that fateful Villalobos set. Being able to make it through a fuck up in order to keep the vibe is important, but lets allow the fuck up to take place instead of jumping down a DJ’s throat in a chat room during a live stream a half a world away (which happens all too often) or even right in front of them on the dancefloor. From Antal’s point of view, shit can happen, but the key is too brush it off, say “if I make a mistake, whatever”, and keep the crowd engaged in the best way possible, by playing the right music.

Thinking back to the days of disco, beat-matching may have been important, but seamless transitions not so much. The musical journey of the night was more about stringing together tracks rather than fusing them together perfectly. Influential NYC DJ David Mancuso chose to play each song straight through during his sets, rarely transitioning synced up tracks. His sessions held at The Loft are now legendary and the stories from those nights are filled with adulation for the infectious energy he brought to the dance. That said, Mancuso wasn’t slamming together tracks trying to force them to work, he had a way with delivering smooth transitions and stringing together tracks in a precise way. Perfection, not so much, but curating an experience was the main goal.

If the reader is looking for an objective answer to the question which this article posed, they’re going to find more of a grey area. Does a DJ set have to be what many consider perfect? Obviously not. But should a DJ set consist of clean transitions? Yes, a key component found in most high quality DJ sets is that they have smooth transitions. But, if Mancuso, Villalobos and many more can deliver experiences that leave a lasting impression, without perfection, then it’s clear the notion is overrated. What matters most is that the time spent on the dancefloor is as joyous as possible. So judge a DJ set by how much fun you have, rather than how “perfect” the DJ was. We’re all there to have a good time after all.

Harrison Williams is Mixmag's East Coast Editor. Follow him on Twitter

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