What to tell your competition DJs

[This post originally appeared on Facebook, but I’m moving it here for easier finding, hopefully!]

I’ve written this in email a bunch of times, so I thought I’d put it out there for others. I was thinking of blues dancing comps, but I’d suspect that much of this applies to other styles as well. Hope you find it helpful!

So, you’re organizing a (blues dance) competition. Hooray! Here are some things you should probably tell your competition DJ(s), so you get the best outcome for your competitors and less stress for your DJ(s):

1.  The format of the competition:

  • For prelims: How many heats are there? How many songs do you want for each heat? Should they prepare a back-up song for each heat (did you tell the judges they can ask for one more song if they need it)?
  • For finals: How many rounds of all-skates and/or spotlights, and in what order?
  • For finals: Are the spotlights battle-style (trading phrases to the same song), double-spotlights (two couples dance at once), each couple getting their own mini-song? If it’s a solo competition, does each competitor get their own spotlight, or is there a more complicated format with people switching in & out?

2.  How many couples (or solo people) do you expect in finals? Giving a range is usually fine, but as soon as you know exactly how many, let your DJ know!

3. For battle-style/jam-style spotlights: Is someone tapping in the competitors, or do they need to know when to come in?

  • If someone is tapping in, it’s great to have the DJ play the song for them and/or letting them know the format of the song (length of phrases) and if there’s an intro (if so, how long), so they’ll be The Best at tapping in.
  • If they competitors are expected to come in without help, especially if they’re not super-advanced, then the DJ needs to know so they can pick a song with really clear phrases.

4. Does the competition have specific music needs? Is this an all-jukin comp? All music above 150bpm? Or are you looking for the standard “mix of styles and tempos”? If you have specific music needs, let your DJ know as soon as possible, so they can make sure they have stuff that is awesome and meets your more-specific requirements.


***Keep in mind for battle-style/jam-style spotlights*** Most blues songs have around 5-7 phrases in them. If you choose a 2-phrase battle-style spotlight format and you have 7 couples in finals, you’re asking them to find a song that has 14 phrases in it. This limits which songs your DJ can use, so the song might be less awesome.


To summarize and put it in a different way, your DJ needs to know:

  • How many songs they need to prepare
  • If your finals have phrase-battle or separate-song spotlights (determines how many songs and the format requirements of those songs)
  • If the phrases need to be very clear OR if they need to play the song for a tap-in person
  • If there are specific kinds of songs they must or must not play

Other than that, step back and let your DJ work their magic!


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