Playing to an unfamiliar crowd for the first time requires careful consideration of your song choices to keep people engaged on the dance floor. With experience, you’ll become adept at reading body language, and observing how the crowd reacts by throwing their hands up in excitement or expressing disgust.
To start, reflect on your own reactions when you’re at a club. How do you behave when you’re having a good time? If you’re the type to wear a wide grin and enthusiastically dance with your hands in the air, or headbang to rock music, pay attention to similar responses from the people on the dance floor when you play the music that elicits those reactions.
On the other hand, when you’re feeling bored and unenthusiastic, how do you react? Look into people’s eyes. If they appear distant, gazing at the floor, or dancing without much thought or energy, they may have mentally disconnected, waiting for something to change. It’s your responsibility to initiate that change.
Don’t solely focus on the individuals directly in front of you. Scan the entire crowd if you have the opportunity to move around. Observe how different people respond to the music. Spotting multiple unhappy faces should motivate you to play something better.
If you’ve established a rapport with the restroom attendant and bar staff, they can provide valuable insights into how well you’re performing and how the night is progressing.
If you dare, you can directly ask people, individually or as a group, through the microphone, about their enjoyment of the night. A collective groan or, worse, silence indicates the need for a quick music change. However, if you receive cheers, whoops, and hands in the air, it means you’re doing well, and you should keep the momentum going.