Stepping Into the DJ Booth

image1Last month, I got a unique chance to cross something off my bucket list. Now, as someone with a decently lengthy bucket list, I’m really trying to live my life to the fullest and take any chance I can to grab life by the horns and really DO things.

One of the things on my bucket list, set up years and years ago, was to be a DJ.

Now, when I set that goal, it was one of probably a hundred I added to my list when I first started making a bucket list. I never had any plans of how I was going to make it happen – as I don’t with many of the items on my bucket list. But I had the chance, and I took it.

This past season, I started working with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, a minor hockey team here in my hometown. I run the camera sometimes for the online broadcast of games, but I’ve also started taking on a role in social media, helping with Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Well in March, a unique opportunity popped up when the Buffalo Jr. Sabres DJ was going to be out of town, at a college hockey tournament, while the Jr. Sabres were in the playoffs. A home game during this time meant that they needed to find a substitute DJ, and I decided almost immediately to step up and volunteer, despite my lack of experience.

Just like that, I got to cross something off my bucket list. But it wasn’t that easy. I was taught the most basic methods of using the equipment, connecting my laptop and turning up the volume, etc. I practiced after one game just to make sure I knew how to do it all. Then I was given some of the basic sound clips used during a game – the anthems, etc.

Before that game, I got all of my music organized in iTunes. Since I was going with just iTunes, as opposed to any of the more advanced DJ software, I knew I had to be organized and have everything at the tip of my fingers. I cut some songs into 1-minute clips to use during stoppages. I made playlists with songs for every situation: warm-ups (a premade mix), penalties, goals, and the like. I had intermission playlists set up before the game to take at least one thing off my mind.

Overall, I headed into the game pretty nervous, but it went off largely without a hitch. I got to the rink early, so I could get set up and make sure everything was in place long before anything began. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work so well, as there was a game happening prior to ours on the same rink, and someone else working in the DJ booth. That meant I had to wait until that one ended to set up, which didn’t leave me a lot of time, and not a lot of room for error.

Despite the pressure I felt, I hit everything like I needed to. I took requests for intermission songs. At the end of the night, the Jr. Sabres won, I got multiple compliments and I felt good that I did it all on my own.

I tried to read the game, the players and the fans to determine what to play next. This is DEFINITELY a skill you need to learn and pick up along the way, and I give major props to all those folks out there who are able to do it. I imagine it just takes time, but knowing when it’s okay to play a certain song, how to feel the crowd’s mood and feed off that… knowing whether you should play a classic song, a pop jam, an organ bit or something else…. it’s more difficult than you’d think. You have to be on top of the game, know what to hit when and at the exact right moment.

But the feeling you get when your team wins it in overtime to stay alive in a playoff series, and you get to push the button that plays the goal horn AND the overtime goal song? Well, that’s just irreplaceable.

I can’t say if I’ll ever DJ a hockey game again, but if nothing else, it was definitely an interesting experience and really made me appreciate that side of the gameday presentation even more. It was fun to step into the DJ booth for a night and knock off an item from my bucket list at the same time.

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