Wedding Music and the Public Perception of DJs.
At one end of the DJ spectrum are club DJs who are widely considered to be the pinnacle as far as the entertainment side of things, and are thought of as glamorous and the most skilled.
The other end of the spectrum is the Wedding DJ, generally having a pretty bad rep and sometimes seen as a joke figure perpetrated by the likes of Peter Kay.
Yet the reality is somewhat different when a few factors are taken into consideration. Firstly the club DJ: They generally play 1 or 2 genres of music and the audience go to that club to hear that style of music, most of the audience are of a similar age, plus the audience go to the club mostly with the intention to dance, and the whole club environment is designed to encourage the crowd to dance as much as possible. In summary everything is set up to help the club DJ so if they’re not able to get the crowd dancing they’re in the wrong job!
Now the Wedding DJ: At an average wedding there is a vast difference in ages from toddlers right up to the grandparents and even great grandparents. There is also typically a huge cross-section in music tastes covering a multitude of genres. Many of the guests often haven’t seen each other for a long time and therefore want to catch up and chat about what they’ve been doing while others have no intention of dancing and are just there to be polite. Additionally at some venues the acoustics hardly help with a pleasing sound to the ear… and oh also, just in case that all makes it too easy sometimes the bar will be in a completely different room or part of the venue, to really challenge the poor bloke charged with the task of getting this lot dancing!
When it comes down to it the good Wedding DJs are far more skilled than the good club DJs and have a far harder task to try to get a majority of the crowd dancing for a large section of the night and yet the public perception generally is the opposite. They’ll also often have far less of an ego as they have to be as accommodating as possible to the crowd in order to build the atmosphere, while getting requests from the youngsters for the latest pop and dance hits and at the same time being asked for golden oldies from the elder family members and guests and trying to juggle all of that and keep everyone happy.
A further difference is the actual music knowledge. At the majority of clubs they are playing mostly dance music, which could be various forms of house and then some urban R&B and rap and possibly dubstep, drum & bass etc. essentially they have a very safe comfort zone as far as the musical boundaries are concerned. At a wedding it would not be unusual for the DJ to receive requests for the same range of dance music that the club DJ has been asked for, plus oldies from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s & 90’s and also some Indie, Soul, Reggae, Rock, Latin/Salsa and even music from other cultures such as Indian Bhangra, Bollywood or Irish, Scottish, French etc at events where there are a mixture of cultures and nationalities. As an example one wedding the bride may have family with Asian ancestry and the next wedding they do could have a groom with many German family members and so on. So many Wedding DJs have to have an extremely wide musical knowledge covering a vast range of genres and to know the tracks from all those many era’s, genres and cultures that will get the guests on to the dancefloor, especially in multicultural cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester etc.
Long gone are the days when all Wedding DJs played each track from the start to the very end and then babbled inanely between each song, although let’s not kid ourselves, those dinosaurs do still exist! Nowadays many Wedding DJs are highly skilled mixers and can be very creative in the way they programme the music in order to have as many people dancing as possible and to maintain the numbers on the dancefloor while changing from one genre/era to another. In fact there are many skilled Wedding DJs who are easily able to play in a club and have the dancefloor packed all night, yet there are few Club DJs that could do the same at many weddings (whether they would want to is another thing but we’re talking about the perception here!). Added to this are the very small band of Wedding DJs that are also gifted in the role of Master of Ceremonies which is also a subject for another day.
Believe me I’m speaking from experience. I worked 6 nights a week in clubs in many countries around the world for over a decade but now do mainly private events such as the higher end weddings and corporate events and have done over 2,000 such events, yet also still do club nights every few weeks, so very much have a foot in both camps.
Not every club DJ is a Tiesto and not every Wedding DJ is a Peter Kay, but the Wedding DJ generally deserves much greater respect than they are often afforded.