The Tab’s guide to becoming a student DJ

Of all the hives of BNOCery in Cambridge, the student DJ community is the most elusive and trendy. Because we love you, here’s a guide to becoming the uni’s top selector.

ArcSoc BNOC Clubbing DJ how to king's bunker Life Music Turf

To be a dance music aficionado in this town – at least of the type of dance music that isn’t shit – can be a thankless task. Sure, there are Turf and Junction nights here and there, but they’re too infrequent to fully satisfy your rhythmic fix. The only thing to do is to step up to the decks, and join Cambridge’s most exclusive community.

You might be wondering, “how?”, “what?”, and “why?” (hopefully not that last one), but never fear: here is a step-by-step guide for beat-based domination, guaranteed.

1. Think of a name

Some would say this should be far from your first concern, but we know the importance of style over substance – this is entertainment we’re talking about, the #brand is key. There are a couple of avenues to explore here: first is the classic pun, ideally on an old-school artist’s name so everyone knows how well-listened you are: Joy Orbison is a good example.

But if there’s one thing DJs love doing more than actually DJing, it’s taking themselves seriously. And nothing shows how serious and dedicated you are like using your plain, regular name. To be honest, the more boring your name is, the better: no-one wants to know what baby-name fad your parents fell for. They just want techno, and six hours of it.

A DJ name masterclass – if you subscribe to the first approach

2. Buy some decks

This is where tough decisions need to be made. If you’re happy staying restricted to your college bops, a laptop and DJ controller is fine; hell, do it on an iPad, no-one’s actually going to be there to hear you. But for greater ambitions, invest in a proper mixer: it might set you back about a grand, but there’s no slicker way of blowing that overdraft p.

The next question is turntables vs. CDJs – while the former will win you favour with the Open Deck purist and warm the achingly-cool heart of Turf, the latter is #progressive, flexible and a fuck-you to retro-fetishism. Plus you can reload like you’re Logan Sama.

Up-and-coming Tit Haller DJ Pro-letariat – he’s a young gun so we’ll forgive the open Macbook

3. Choose your specialisation

Because at the end of the day it’s all about the music, man. Right? Well that depends on whether you want to get any gigs or not. If you’re looking at getting right to the heart of the cabal, then you’ve got to master that blend of disco and house that blares out of every underground night across town. Sure, it can get overly repetitive and nostalgic, but that’s the way they like it. And the more obscure the better: if you can track down an unreleased B-side of Nile Rogers’ bowel movements, your work here is pretty much done.

But if you don’t want to make people dance to the same shit they danced to 40 years ago, options become more limited. Becoming a king or queen of techno will acquire you some very cool friends indeed, though you won’t know it because they hardly ever talk. If you can get a handle on the deepest, darkest Berlin filth, you’ll be able to smash King’s Bunker and the more electronic-leaning Turf nights – just remember to bring gum for your adoring fans, because they won’t be powered by J-bombs or VKs.

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For anything else – d’n’b, dubstep, garage, grime – the market is small but growing. You’d be better off heading to Junction, and cotching with an unruly mix of ARU students and rich roadmen from St John’s until you can launch a takeover of the place.

4. The big night itself

When you’ve secured a promising support slot on this week’s hottest night, this is still a cut-throat world – you want to fail your degree because of an overly-packed show schedule, not due to trauma from the time the Open Deck soundsystem stole all your vinyl, and watched with glee as you broke down in the middle of the Cindie’s DJ booth. You’ve got to be tough – don’t give the crowd what they want, give them what they should want, and if that’s ten straight minutes of a single kick drum then so be it. Golden rule: it’s the DJs that put on the nights, so it’s them you’ve got to impress – the best kind of DJ is a DJ’s DJ, as the saying goes (it doesn’t).

The Union being only slightly less pretentious than usual

Who wants to be a Union or Tab hack when you can stand on a platform above everyone else at a party and choose all the songs? Follow this guide, and your dreams will be realised.