The path of a DJ is often accompanied by nervousness and anxiety, particularly when starting out. I still vividly recall my very first DJ gig at a bar back in 2004. In the weeks leading up to it, I dedicated countless hours to practice, meticulously noting the timing of each song's intro and outro as there were no DJ software tools back then to assist with cue points or song markers. The anxiety was so palpable that I even sought divine blessings at Shiv Mandir before embarking on that performance.
Feeling nervous before a gig is perfectly normal , even for experienced DJs with decades of global performances under their belts. It demonstrates your genuine care and investment in your performance. The novelty of a new venue, concerns about potential mishaps, and the shift from your private self to a public entertainer can trigger self-doubt.
Here are some coping strategies to manage the performance anxiety:
Focus on friendly faces: Direct your attention toward people in the crowd who are supportive and responsive. Greeting familiar faces on the dance floor can help soothe your nerves, knowing that there are people cheering you on regardless of the outcome. Ignore & avoid fixating on negative reactions.
Be prepared: Working on your DJ set before the show is essential. Prepare well by shortlisting songs and curate a playlist that aligns with the event and your target audience. Being well-prepared will instill confidence in your abilities and allow you to deliver an exceptional performance.
Arrive Early : Being at the venue early gives you the opportunity to become familiar with the surroundings, the stage, and the equipment. Familiarising yourself with the decks and other technical equipment beforehand can prevent last-minute technical issues. Knowing that everything is set up and working properly can reduce anxiety related to potential technical glitches during your set.
Maintain a positive appearance: When you look good, you feel good. Dress in an outfit that makes you feel confident and represents your unique DJ style. Also, planning your gig attire in advance can help manage last-minute anxiety that arises from deciding what to wear. I've personally noticed how this preparation contributes to a more positive experience before a performance.
Connect with your audience: Engage with the crowd through smiles, eye contact, and treating them as friends. Remember that everyone is present to have a good time, not to criticize or boo you. Shifting your perspective and building a rapport with the audience can boost your confidence.
Be in the Zone & Prioritize your well-being: Before your performance, aim to find your focus and spend a few hours alone. Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that enhance both your physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or any relaxation technique that works for you. Striving for a balanced state of mind and body can lead to a calmer and more composed mindset when you step in front of the crowd. As a personal testament, I have been practicing meditation since 2017, and it has proven to be incredibly beneficial in this regard.
Conclusion : Embrace those butterflies and remember that being nervous is a sign of your passion and dedication to deliver an amazing performance for your crowd. With each gig, you'll gain more confidence and learn to channel that energy into creating an unforgettable experience for your audience. So, take a deep breath, step onto that stage, and let your passion for music shine through!
I'll see you in the next blog post.
- DJ NYK