Five Tips from Professional DJs

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Music keeps a party from becoming a dud, but lighting is the component that completes the package. Not only does it dictate the atmosphere and feel of a venue; it also enhances the partygoer’s experience. For aspiring DJs, especially, having the perfect lighting can mean the difference between a drab night and an awesome one for the ages.

For those just starting out in DJing or are simply interested in throwing an awesome lights show, check out these great tips compiled from professional DJs.

  1. Placement Is Key

The saying that “Less is more” isn’t always applicable in the DJ party setup. It all depends on the size of the room. The common mistake is to focus all or most of the lighting on a specific area, leaving patches of dark space in the venue.

This can be avoided by planning out the lighting placements evenly all around the room. Interesting architectural elements such as arches or pillars can be accented by uplighting. Also, avoid pointing light fixtures directly toward walls—it doesn’t really do much to light up the room.

  1. Consider Color Tones

The right color adds emotion and energy to DJ gigs, so adding splashes of color is a must. It’s best to survey the venue beforehand, not only to get an idea of the size but also to check out the tones of the room. This way, the lighting color choices can be narrowed down to match the room and create a better effect that will enhance the ambiance of the party.

  1. Choose the Right Lighting Fixtures

DJs nowadays are spoiled for choice when it comes to lighting fixtures. Depending on the theme and scale of the event, there are multiple combinations of fixed and moving fixtures that can provide an array of visual effects.

From spotlights to strobe lights, which are considered essential in EDM gigs, the right lighting fixtures have the ability to showcase an amazing lights show that can set the tone of the night. Just don’t overuse the strobe lights—their effects shouldn’t be the focus of the party.

  1. Select a Mode

There are three common modes in most DJ lighting: program mode, sound activated, and DMX controlled.

Program mode is more repetitive—it allows the user to choose an effect or a color associated with a fixture, and this same order of effects happens in a repeating manner all through the night until the fixture is turned off or the setting is changed manually.

Sound-activated lights produce more dynamic effects that are in tune with the music. The sensitivity knob is adjusted before the beginning of the event, and the light fixtures take care of the rest. The more fixtures there are, the more stunning the effects can be so long as the sensitivity is set differently on each fixture to create an amazing and interactive lights show.

DMX-controlled lights are a bit more labor-intensive but provide the best results by far and can be used by both beginners and professionals. They require an operator or lighting technician not only to preprogram the equipment prior to an event, but also to man the lighting console during the event. A DMX controller for the lights lets the lighting technician control multiple lighting fixtures as well as set up chases and scenes that result in a more professional-looking lights show.

  1. Don’t Forget the Atmospherics

When the air in the venue is filled with haze and fog, the lights fill up the air as well and not just the walls, floor, and ceiling. The result is an amazing atmosphere that allows party-goers to be more immersed in the experience. Cap it all off with some laser lights, and the evening will definitely be one for the books.

Decent lighting used to be pretty expensive, but with all the contemporary DJ lighting options available today, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Not only are there cheaper options; most of them also come in more compact (and automated) forms. Deciding on purchasing a full set of lights can be pricey, but if the lights are added on as uplighting packages to mobile gigs, they make for great investments. After all, great lighting is the best accompaniment to awesome music!



By Sam

Sam Lowy is a writer, actor, comedian, musician, and everything in between. A true jack of all trades, Sam is constantly striving to learn and grow. Whether it's for a festival or just a once-in-a-lifetime club show, Sam loves to travel across the country to catch the best artists around. When he's at home in Tempe, AZ, Sam enjoys reading, playing guitar, and watching Frasier, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.