Student Experience Blog

Life as a College DJ

A lot of my weekend memories involve rushing to set up DJ equipment in a crowded basement, living room, or garage. Either scrambling to connect to the vintage stereo system or lugging my own speakers and routing cables away from places where people might trip on them, and finding a small table to unpack my gear constitutes most of this frantic set up. I play house parties for free, I know that students don’t have much in the way to provide (other than refreshments), and the house parties are the fun gigs anyways.

The fun usually comes with chaos. Almost always, an outlet is overloaded and something is shut off mid show. Having to reroute the cables when a room is full of 20 somethings enjoying their Friday night feels as high-stakes as brain surgery. It’s probably a miracle that more of my equipment hasn’t been broken from either the sweaty humidity or a room full of people jumping around. I’ve even had a line of football players form a human wall in front of my equipment to prevent mishaps. I’ve also had Afghan students set up and run a hookah for me while DJ-ing. This kind of help is always appreciated.

DJ-ing a house party is more complex than just the transition element of changing songs, or selecting songs to play. It takes a combination of organizing before a show and improvisation. The chance that at least one element of the party will not go as planned is almost 100 percent. A speaker might not work, an external hard drive or a mixer might go down. I have never had to shut down a party early because of a technical difficulty, knock on wood, which has meant that I have had to do a lot of interesting things. I’ve had to DJ off of a laptop with no controller (mixer or DJ gear), I’ve learned to use other people’s controllers on the fly, I’ve had to run extension cords out of windows and back into the room I’m in, and I’ve had to troubleshoot multiple software problems in a room full of mildly belligerent folks all wondering where the music went. Surprisingly, this is all positive for me. It feels great to solve a problem and see the results in a tangible way--a good party.

I started out holding events in high school. My friends and I would set up concerts at a friend’s house. From there, I snagged a few local events. I performed some school dances, and then I performed at a few local venues. I still have a lot to learn and practice in terms of technique--I’m by no means a professional-level DJ. I would like to think I can hold my own, and I continue to learn the skills. Performing is a very gratifying experience. There is no feeling quite like making a song and performing it live, and having people enjoy the music you have created. DJ-ing in college is my favorite way to spend a Friday night, and I hope I can find more ways to play music afterwards.

David Losinski is a senior political economy major from Idaho Falls, Idaho.