by Betsy Fischer, M.Ed.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree, and a post-graduate Supervisory Certificate. In all those long years it took me to get those degrees, I never once took a business class. All my schooling on how to run a successful business has come from attending DJ workshops, conferences, and meetings, and reading books recommended to me by my fellow DJs and business associates.
One common theory in the realm of running a successful business is to find one’s niche – that which separates one’s business apart from everyone else’s. Questions and concepts like, “What makes YOU special?” “What do you offer that no one else offers?” and “Building your own Brand” must be considered by every successful business owner.
How I Found My Niche
I have thought a lot about these questions and concepts over the last 6 years. And, after working with a business coach, and a lot of soul searching, I have defined my niche.
No one can rock a banquet hall filled with Girl Scouts and their Daddies better than I can! And I do this all by myself – one woman, one mixer, two speakers, a detailed party plan, lots of props for games, and prizes.
I don’t care how fabulous your equipment is, how technically skilled you are at beat-mixing, how many intelligent lights you have, or how many dancers you bring…I can have a gymnasium full of pre-schoolers eating out of the palm of my hand!
So, in this, my last article for ProMobileDJ.com, I’d like to share some of my expertise with you about entertaining children.
Dig the Song – Dread the Lyrics
The first time I heard LMFAO’s “Shots,” I was sitting at my son’s high school basketball game. This song was playing during the warm-ups, as the guys were in the lay-up line. All I heard was “Shots-shots-shots-shots-shots, Shots-shots-shots-shots-shots,” as the boys were shooting, and I loved it! I was so thrilled that someone finally came out w/ another Basketball song, so that we DJs could have an alternative to Lil Bow Wow’s “They’re Playing Basketball”.
Much to my chagrin, at a later point in time, I heard the rest of the lyrics in the song, and I was so disappointed. Disappointed that this wasn’t, in fact, a basketball song, which would have been awesome, and extremely bummed that with all the panties dropping and sucking going on in the song, it really wasn’t appropriate for kids at all. I was crushed.
Recently, Wiz Khalifa’s “Roll Up” was released, and I loved this song, too. “You know one thing straight- I’ll be there girl whenever you call me.” I love the melody, the percussion, and the message. To me, it’s a modern-day version of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.”
Imagine my surprise when my own kids told me that this song is SO NOT about a guy “being there” to support a girl, rather “Roll Up” refers totally to weed! And, (mom,) how could you not know that…Everyone knows that?!
My point about all this is – Be careful what you play for kids. Just because a song doesn’t contain curse words, or even if the offensive language is edited out, a DJ entertaining kids needs to consider the content and the message being put out.
We all know that 50 Cent wasn’t necessarily talking about sweets when singing, “I’ll take you to the candy shop, let you lick the lollypop.” Not a curse in that phrase, yet inappropriate for kids just the same.
“To Chatchke or not to Chatchke?” That is the question…
I am a great believer in- and lover-of CHATCHKES, you know, the dance floor give-aways that DJs distribute on the dance floor to liven up a party and get people moving and grooving.
To me, nothing says “A great party happened here,” better than an empty dance floor littered with the remains of streamer wands, boas, and glitter! However, when entertaining kids, a DJ needs to carefully consider the audience, and whether or not those Chatchkes will indeed be appreciated, or simple destroyed in mere seconds.
Depending on the area in which one entertains, Chatchkes, can be a great addition to a party, or a real problem. Recently, when entertaining in a poor area in Israel, the children attending my party had never seen such things, and so, were enthralled with every item we distributed. They couldn’t get enough and were most grateful. And, normally, at the beginning of Bar/Bat Mitzvah season, 12 and 13-year-olds genuinely appreciate these trinkets, too.
But, beware the towns where kids are attending 2, 3, or 4 Mitzvah parties per weekend. By the time winter is over, these kids have seen it all, and derive much more pleasure out of destroying these items and/or using them as weapons of mass vandalism rather than wearing them on the dance floor.
If you are going to distribute Chatchkes at a party, consider the audience. If you are doing so in an area and at the time of year when the kids have gone to tons of parties and played Coke and Pepsi hundreds of times before, you’d better be bringing something FABULOUS and NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN to knock their socks off. If not, don’t even bother!!
Hah! You’re Out!! vs. Everyone Plays!!
Interactive games and contests are included in the repertoires of skilled DJs who entertain kids. When playing games with children, the question of whether or not to eliminate players should be considered. No matter what age, no one likes to be “Out” during a game, just as no one likes to be picked last to be on a team.
When dealing with young kids, be careful when you eliminate players. Of course, by the time kids are Bar/Bat Mitzvah age, they expect to get eliminated, and although they might argue with you, it is customary for kids at this age to be “out”. However, when playing games with younger kids (preschool, elementary school, even some 6th grade crowds) it is much better to keep ALL the kids playing rather than eliminating them.
You will have a much happier group when everyone keeps going around and around under the Limbo stick, rather than when they get eliminated because they can no longer arch their backs. The contest becomes more about the creative ways in which the kids get under the stick, rather than who can’t do it anymore.
Huggy Bear is just as much fun when the number of kids that need to gather in a hug keeps changing, but the players don’t! And when playing a “musical chairs” type of game, I use Hula Hoops instead of chairs. The hoops are on the floor, and the kids dance all around. As soon as the music stops, they must jump into a hoop and freeze. If they can’t find an empty hoop – no tears, no elimination. They simply find a hoop with other kids in it, and squish in as tight as possible.
Everyone screams in delight over this game, and no one feels sad that they can’t play anymore while their friends keep on going. An added bonus to this game is, as the number of kids squeezing tight in each hoop increases, the kids look cuter and cuter and it all makes for great photos!!
In summary, it takes a special person to work with and entertain children. There is a lot more to this type of work than simply taking song requests and making bridal party announcements.
Betsy Fischer, M.Ed. – Girls with Gigs
To My Readers:
I have enjoyed sharing my expertise in this area in my featured blog articles, and I want to thank Stacy Zemon for asking me to be a part of ProMobile DJ.
I was reluctant to take on any additional projects when Stacy first approached me last summer, yet she was very persuasive!! After writing for several months, I know that I can no longer continue sharing with all of you. Being the mother of three very active teenagers, two cats and one puppy, the wife of a very busy executive, helping my mother-in-law who has been recuperating in our home for the last two months after surgery, all while being the sole proprietor of The Groove Lounge, and my Mobile DJ Business, and teaching Zumba classes several times a week keeps me busy enough, and something has got to give.
To my readers – I wish you continued success in all your endeavors. If you ever need advice or information on running parties for children, please don’t hesitate to phone or email me. Just ask Stacy – she knows where to find me!
Betsy Fischer, M.Ed. is a DJ, Event Planner, Dance and Zumba Instructor, Choreographer and Entrepreneur.
She is the 2010 winner of the “Best New Dance” and runner up “Entertainer of the Year” at the “DJ of the Year” competition held at the International DJ Expo.
She is also the proud owner/operator of Betsy Fischer’s Groove Lounge, a dance and party venue located in southern NJ. Her mobile DJ business, Party Dancing with Betsy Fischer, LLC, entertains at a variety of events throughout NJ and PA.
Betsy is a member of NJDJN and NAME. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and is a NJ State Certified Elementary Teacher and a Teacher of the Handicapped. Betsy received her Master’s Degree from Temple University, where her studies focused on including handicapped children in the performing arts.
Betsy’s website is GrooveLounge.net and you can email her at Betsy@GrooveLounge.net.