by Stu Chisholm
Happy 2012! In the last installment I outlined some of the things we can do to speed up the time it takes to get in to a venue and be fully set up, as well as the reverse at the end of the event.
This time around, I’d like to shift the focus from what we’re carrying to how we’re carrying it. I’m also going to get personal, with some tips on how dressing differently can also save time.
I LIKE TA MOVE IT, MOVE IT
When moving equipment in and out of a venue, the name of the game is fewer trips between your vehicle and the party room. This not only speeds up your set up, but makes you less vulnerable to theft, since the #1 way DJ equipment gets stolen is from open, unattended vehicles.
An all-in-one rig, as I described last time, can make fewer trips a reality, but most of us can’t transport such a beast! So that means having a portable cart with high capacity. Along with the Rock ‘N Roller and CSL Supertable I mentioned last time, I’d also recommend a good hand truck. A lightweight composite version can be had at any hardware store and is perfect for moving things like speakers or stackable road cases. Pneumatic wheels make short work of bumps and steps.
One of the more brilliant ideas I’ve ever seen comes from my old friend George McDonald. He had his DJ console mounted on top of a hospital gurney! He would pull it out of his van, the wheels would drop, he’d roll it on in, stick on a Velcro ® skirt, plug in speakers and he was ready to party! This was a prime example of my philosophy of stealing ideas from other professions.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
As you’re moving into the venue, be sure to place equipment as close to, or right on, the spot where they’ll be for the night. A lot of time can be wasted arranging gear, or even worse, having one piece placed in the way of another, making setup a Tetris ™ game! If you use bags and/or speaker covers, resist the urge to zip them closed once they’re off. This will save a few seconds at the end of the night.
All of these may sound nitpicky and minimal, but saving a couple of seconds here and a few more there can add up!
QUICK CHANGE ARTIST?
One you’ve set up, your next goal is to get changed into your party attire. A DJ can benefit greatly from speed here, too, because the second most frequent time when equipment is stolen is from an unattended DJ rig!
This is why, after my initial sound check, I put on some background music regardless of how early I am. More often than not, you’ll be able to hear it while changing.
From here there are two approaches: the suit bag and coveralls. For those DJs who don’t sweat easily and live in a dry climate, simply wearing coveralls over a tuxedo or suit can make a “change” near instantaneous! If you pack a small mirror, brush and other essentials, you might not even have to leave your rig.
We bigger, sweatier DJs opt to carry our tux or suit in a suit bag, which requires a trip to a dressing room (or, more often, the restroom). Changing into a traditional tux, including some primp time, can often run into a half-hour. Now’s the time to steal some ideas from those quick-change artists in Vegas!
Prepare your tux shirts by sewing on buttons that look like studs. Want more speed? Sew them on the outside edge and sew-in white Velcro ® circles. Do the same for the sleeves and skip the cuff links. While the tear-off pants that the quick-change guys use might be a bit much, the formal zippered boots and shoes they wear aren’t! Some even have laces and look like normal shoes, but the zippers make quick on and off easy.
These small changes can save a good 10 minutes or more and you won’t spend any time looking around for that stud you dropped watched it roll out of sight.
Stu Chisholm – The Complete Disc Jockey
Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan, has has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe.
He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well.
Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine.
To contact him, email DJStuCrew@gmail.com. You can grab Stu’s book at TheCompleteDiscJockey.com.