Using Your Skills “Beyond the Booth”

By Stu Chisholm – “The Complete Disc Jockey”

It might come as a bit of a surprise to my readers, but I do have a life beyond being a DJ. That said, there have been a few occasions when my skills as an entertainer have benefited my extracurricular activities.

Example #1

It was a surprise party in a very upscale neighborhood. My wife and I arrived early for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres when our host said, “too bad I didn’t think about music!” He pointed out his wife’s (the birthday girl’s) CDs, in a nearby cabinet, but explained that his custom home stereo hadn’t been set up yet.

That was my cue: I just happened to have my back-up Numark CD-Mix 1 handy. In a few minutes, I had some nice cocktail hour Jazz playing and, as the night went on, began having fun mixing the eclectic variety of tunes that were on-hand. My enthusiasm spilled over and people I was told “never dance” began to dance anyway!

Admittedly this was more a case of having the right gear at the right moment, but it was also combined with an ability to ballpark an unknown song’s BPM and put together some impromptu mixes on-the-spot.

Example #2

Some years ago, an opportunity to make a few extra dollars installing sound systems in local banks presented itself. Once again, skills I developed by putting together and maintaining my DJ systems came into play. This time, though, I’d also learn something that would translate from a temporary “day job” into a better DJ show!

That bit of knowledge came in the form of 70-volt speaker systems, which are the type commonly found in in-ceiling installations. Each speaker has a transformer on it which utilizes different “taps.” If your amp has 50 watts, you can run 5 speakers on the 10 watt tap, or 10 speakers using the 5 watt. This was a revelation! It would also become very important the following week…

Example #3

The wedding reception was in an historic (read “very old”) building. The “library” was set up for the party, but dinner and all of the announcements would take place in completely different rooms. Those rooms spanned the length of the building, making any active-style speaker placements tricky.

Taking what I learned from my “bank job,” I brought in a set of 20 speakers wired for 70-volt operation and ran them along a handy ledge. My 200-watt amp fed each speaker 10 watts, filling the dining rooms with even sound from end to end.

After dinner, once the party had started in earnest, the hall staff came up to my booth to ask me about the set-up, complimenting me on my unique solution.“No other DJ has ever done that here before,” they said.

The Lesson Learned?

The lesson here is that wherever life may take you, your DJ skills may have value far beyond rockin’ your next party, and your non-DJ skills may be transformed into something that sets you apart from other entertainers! All that has to happen is for you, the DJ, to put together the right pieces at the right time. That, too, is a skill.

How do your DJ skills come into play “beyond the booth?”


  • Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan 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 You can grab Stu’s book at

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