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  • Jesse Herr

    ive done an 8 hour gig, my usual is around 4 hours i never have an issue !

  • DJ_Jon_Doe / Dallas Tx.

    I personally love a 2-6 hour set because it give you a chance to stretch your legs musically and take the audience for a journey. I’ve also done several 12 hour sets and a couple of 18 hour sets before 7 would gladly do it again should anyone ever need me to. and i have plenty of demos available for you to stream, just hit me up and i’ll shoot you the links. peace and good beats

  • Pingback: Prime Frequency | How To Play Long (5+ Hours) DJ Sets

  • Charles Mykid

    Great article! I once played for 11 hours straight, my back was killing me (the setup wasn’t comfortable at all) and I used Cd’s (2007) and I used every single track I had. If you get a chance to play a long set remember to enjoy it, you are not an iPod, so enjoy the music, play a long track and let your ears rest from the pressure of the headphones, mind the level in the booth and look up, don’t stare at the mixer or the computer all night, you might not be able to flirt and drink the entire night, but you can have a great time.

  • Michael

    The longest I’ve done “live” have been four hours but they still remain the most fun and memorable of all. I say “live” because while this one is most certainly my longest, it was recorded at home as part of my “Trance to Study by” series with the only audience being the wife and cat. Who loved it by the way. It was a very long night to do solo but a great experience.

  • Ricky

    The other most popular article on DjTechTools in these days is about Beatport Pro. That’s funny! I mean guys, where’s the problem in making a 5 hours dj-set? Our laptops can store months of music, our controllers allow us to mix every kind of genre in the coolest, craziest and easiest way. The only problem is holding on for 5 hours in row standing up and being smiling. I think it’s not that big deal!

  • droc2pus

    I dj from 9pm – 2am every Thursday at the Line Hotel, Los Angeles. I loved all the tips in the article! Thank You! Lightening up on the alcohol is crucial for me, also wearing expensive insoles in my shoes. I bought these awesome $60 insoles at New Balance and they support my arch and dancing all night long. The crowd is very eclectic and more on the late 20′s, early 30′s side so playing a wide range of music has been working well, playing the crowd is so so crucial.

  • Gilman

    What about short DJ sets? Any tips or article? I’m playing for 40 minutes in 2 weeks on a festival, but have no clue how shall I plan my set :)

  • Guest

    65y56

  • Blue Collar Prophet

    I play 3 nights a week 4 hours a night minimum in Denver. Hands down the best advice from all of this is how “it’s a marathon not a sprint”. Holding a dance floor solid for 4 plus hours is virtually impossible so except that and just do your thing… take the crowed for a rollercoaster ride and keep them guessing. I practice specific mixes in my studio weekly while creating new ones to also keep myself occupied and having fun. Thus also creating something “new” for the dance floor. the more mixes you can create and the less you download from places like DJcity.com the more you will stand out and sound original.
    Cheers and thanks to Ean Golden for creating this post. i feel it was very much needed.

  • Peter Knagge

    I run a small independent stage lighting business and DJ’s are wimps!
    Goa Gil boasts doing a 24hr set but he doesn’t realise before his
    performance I did a very physical and stressful 36hr bump in, followed
    by a +12hr light show, (I don’t want to dent your ego’s lads but a
    lighting console blows a dj mixer or live rig out of the water, 10 times the cost for starters,) followed by a 12 hr bump out, and not to mention months and months of
    preparation beforehand. Despite he has 10 times less equipment and did
    10 times less work I bet he got paid 10 times as much, plus all the
    extra status and perks.
    Come to the lighting dept. lads, and get your hands dirty!

  • Scorchin

    The Strip Club DJ does 7 or 8 hrs nightly & up to 10 hrs on fri n sat nights with
    no breaks…

  • Roguesy

    Another thing not to forget is time when you eat. The worst is when you’re in the middle of a peak time and you have to take a massive dump. Always have long several song mp3s available.

  • luvinit

    never mind all that, a handy wrap of mdma will have you sounding all kinds of ace for 12+hrs

    • Tony Sellers

      for real? it’s people like you that we’re trying to weed out of the scene, you’re making it hard as fuck for legitimate DJs who care about the music (and not just getting fucked up) to get jobs at clubs and festivals. and check yourself, people who try to mix while rolling balls sound like complete tools.

      • sammsousa

        geez chill out a bit tony!! im not saying take mdma, but come on…how many LEGENDS are super high when playing and deliver every time?? look at ricardo vilalobos the guy prob takes more then mdma, plays vinyl (no synk) and still plays huge sets and always rocks it!!

  • Dj Richi AC

    There is a thing that you forgot about a 5 or 6 hour gig… SLEEP BEFORE!!!. In my case i have a resindency in a disco-bar that makes me play thursday till saturday from 10pm to 4am . As you can imagine if you don’t sleep at some moment in the night you will be daydreaming. Redbull helps but if it’s a regular thing then you feel that you are just drinking some water with tons of sugar. Better sleep on the afternoon. Djing is a really mental consuming thing because we are thinking ahead for the next 3 or 4 songs so that means that without sleep you are not so ready for the night.

    Making a playlist helps but it’s only a way to get help when you are out of ideas, something that happen often in a 5+ hour gig. I like to make a commercial-floor-filler list, a rock list, a hip-hop list, a house list, a girly list (girls in the dance floor guys trying to hit on them and buying drinks… of course if it’s not a gay event), a 90′s list, a teenager list and a 25+ years old list mixed with any kind of tracks from different styles. if there are a group of hip-hop fans and another of house mix between this 2 lists before one group leaves the dancefloor.

    In this place i had at the beginning the non-hip-hop policy because “it is so slow and people don’t like it”. I change the idea of the owner by just giving the girls the kind of hip-hop that they wanna hear : commercial and girly! (beyonce, rihanna, jason de rulo, etc… ). When he saw how the drinks were going out like hell he just said: “at the beginning i wanted to have oldies because that worked before… i know that’s something that you don’t know so well but it doesn’t matter… just do whatever you want but get them to dance”. Best feeling of my life!. He gave me the freedom to decide what to do with the music. To win the trust of the owner of a place is a really plus to any dj.

    I am a latin house dj but i have to admit that trough this residency i got to learn tons of other music and old music as well… i’ve been forced to dig deeper to find old tracks that help me trough the night and it pays it. Some of the old tracks are sampled in new songs that i though was totally new.

  • Elliot

    Any ideas or tips on how we can keep our ears healthy for such long sets? As this directly contradicts the two hour rule!

    • Dj Richi AC

      earplugs my friend… the best friends of a dj. Some of them are really expensive but you only have 2 ears. If you don’t have the money (as in my case) visit any drum house in your town. They have cheaper solutions that makes the trick untill you can buy ear plugs that are better

    • Blue Collar Prophet

      I use these:
      http://www.sensaphonics.com/er-series-musician-earplugs-custom
      after 20 years of drumming and DJ’ing my ears are still in great shape.. a bit of tinnitus but nothing i can do about that… these plugs are hands down amazing. Highs, lows, mids all there… virtually NO freq. response loss. and I got them with a custom mold done by an Audiologist for $150.
      Cheers

  • http://bemused.geek.nz Robert Cruickshank

    I’d have to argue that SHORT sets are even more stressful than long ones. With longies you can relax, wallow about in one genre before shifting to another, whereas with, say, my Fracture sets I had to organise a tour through perhaps one mood/genre that did two things: 1) people felt they had an organic ride through the set, like a loop through a wildlife park, and 2) left room for the next DJ to segue in. Given that I would be pushing out the club and trance and the following DJ might be more of a hard rock sort, this could be tricky.

    Then again, my listeners tended to request out-of-genre tunes, and working out a segue from whatever I was strangling to what they wanted and back again… it could be interesting!

    • Dj Richi AC

      i think that the best way to mash your set with the previous is just to hear the previous set and moreless find a way to mash it up. In my case sometimes i have to play latin house after a hip-hop dj… 2 genders that have very less in common. So what i do is search for a song that match 3 things : 1 is this song moreless with the same bpm as the lastone of the dj , 2 has the hip-hop mood and the latin house mood as well ? 3 can i go from hip-hop to house with that? . I have a secret weapon for this. If you have a hip-hop dj before normally they play at 90 – 100 bpm. Reggaeton plays mostly at the same bpm… so find a mash up reggaeton that fits there.

      Other idea is to ask the dj that is playing what is he planing to do in his set (of course when he has 2 seconds free) so that you can prepair a bit to blend your set with his

  • Sebastian Cavolina

    In one of your climaxes, ALWAYS leave room for something like a “sing along section”, songs the crowd might know really well, i do this all the time and it’s just a great feeling to put a lowpass and hear your crowd sing. You feel like a superstar and people like it a lot.

  • Mem Rx

    oh man, the end of set hangover. I found out once 90 minutes into a supposed 3 hour set that the closer wasn’t coming and I could go as long as I wanted. an additional 4 hours. I played right through to the end, but I’d started (drinking) at an “I’m done at midnight and going home in 40 minutes” pace and eff me if I wasn’t enough in the bag already to think it was a good idea to keep going. I swear, the minute I finished and I knew the mains were turned down, I grabbed my laptop, ran into the bathroom, and puked twice before going back to pack up the rest of my kit.

    • Dj Richi AC

      good example of why drinking too much while working is a bad idea… hehehehe ;)

  • http://www.d-jam.com D-Jam

    I think playing long sets, taking people on a journey…it’s a dying art that needs to be saved. Too many crowds are all ADHD, hopping clubs, wanting quick gratification, but also too many events cram DJs in foolishly and thus you end up with many playing 30-45 min sets that never connect to one another.

    When I had to play long sets, I kept the alcohol down to a minimum, and often chose coffee and water. Maybe bring a Mt Dew with me for added support. I’d definitely take folks on a journey, and change it up over the night while keeping the energy as a slow evolution.

    As I said, it’s a shame the crowds and events seem too much about quick gratification. Hopefully new blood in the scene will change that.

  • ATribeCalledWes

    Great one guys…I’ve played a few hundred 5+ hour sets, and so much of this is great advice that I had to stumble over and suffer learning. Best thing long sets ever did for me was expose me to a lot of music. I already listened to lots of music, but it made me dig hard to get enough music to keep my own interest and take people for a long ride. It’s been a few years since I did it, but even today it pays off with my production variety and It paid off big for me @ WMC in Miami this year because several DJ’s at one of my gigs decided not to show up…I just kept playing for a 3X set until the headliners arrived. Score;)

  • Greg Lane

    It’s awesome seeing so many people talking about playing long sets. It’s a thing I always have loved doing and actually see anything under 2 hours as not being able to get your point across. I like to think I model my djing mentality and philosophy from the John Digweed and Danny Tenaglia school.

    My first real experience with long dj sets was when I gained a residency in a gay club, which was the only place that played music I liked, because of a few guest night I played. It was 3 nights a week from 8 or 9 pm to 3 or 4 am depending on night and crowd. It was tough work and I hurt many nights afterwards but it was so awesome. I had free range to do whatever I wanted. Since that place has gone there has never been another place that had the style of music or openness to music to come in it’s place. I miss it and really would love to see something like it again. Unfortunately I live in desert wasteland for forward thinking especially musically.

  • StevenS

    during my long sets i play maybe 30-45 mins of different styles and constantly go around the horn.. but towards the end of the night i pull out all stops and really start changing styles quickly and playing my favorite new songs with my favorite “popular” songs too.. right now Happy by Pharrell (80 BPM) and Latch by Disclosure (22 BPM) have been my last two songs.. Happy is starting to get played out so I’ll have to change it soon.. Keep it up DJTT!! oh & btw I usually pace my drinking to one drink every hour but not one set is the same as another.. just practice self control!

  • djpossess

    I have a clothing store gig this weekend. 4 hours and this helps. Thanks

  • Cry Havoc

    Not to sound like an old vinylsaurus rex, or to subtract from the great points in the article regarding what I call “deejay stamina,” but I learned to deejay in the era where a club simply had A deejay, one deejay – not this pseudo festival thing with a different deejay every hour.

    When I book guest deejays, I hold them to the same standards that I hold myself: have a very tight two hour set planned, and be ready to play for four hours, if needed. And none of it can be corny, lazy, or irrelevant. I don’t book anyone to play for an hour. For someone to get up and “go ham” or whatever for the span of 13-20 songs does not impress me.

    The results for me personally is that I dig very deep for really great tracks – all killer, no filler. And for those times when I’m booked to play a short one hour or two hour set, or I’m recording a mixtape, I know it’s going to be tight, and not lazy or boring.

  • Sean Cvtter

    ZZZzzzzz….

  • noxxi

    just played my first “public” set on saturday there, and it ran for about 5 hours too, i found myself starting to run out of music that had the right feel at the time, best ever peak track, MYNC – Stadium. absolutely slaughtered it. think it will be the start of a residency.
    i particularly like the tip of pulling tracks to the side to end on.

    can i just add a tip i found to be a no brainer, i used the stopwatch on my phone to let me know how long i had till the song that was playing finished, i would wait on a song that gave me a solid 5-6 minutes, and that would give me time to smoke, pee and mingle. before running back to line up another track

    • Enderzz

      MYNC – Stadium?! Really? WTF, u played in a kindergarden???

      • noxxi

        sorry i wasnt playing the old folks home mate. whats wrong with that song? or is it just not one of your favourites, thus rendering it garbage?

      • noxxi

        although my last reply was cheek, i would actually be interested in knowing what you consider your favourite peak track? as of this moment, i dont know if you know an amazing track or if you are just a genre snob

      • noxxi

        are you enderzz edits on youtube? yeah i stalked you, i pretty much knew exactly what you would be like before i saw your edits. just because your music is all “dark and meaningful” doesnt give you the right to be a filthy hater! haha! if i dropped your style i would have got booed off mate! theres a time and a place, not that rap is bad, its just not my scene. you should learn to be a little more open minded, instead of dismissing everything thats not like you as inferior. i used to be like that, when i listened to hardcore (proper hardcore), i was like 15 at the time though. how old are you mate? you sound 12 in your videos

        • Guest

          fanny

          • noxxi

            aw yeah that was actually me calling you a fanny, dunno why it came up as guest tho?

        • Oddie O’Phyle

          by hard core, are you referring to the rotterdam and terror core that got me to cross over from industrial in the 90′s? ;)

          • noxxi

            yep! i used to like some commercial hardcore as well, i’m guilty of loving the cheese that was bonkers, 4-11. mostly i was all about endymion, nosferatu, RTC was the shit though, i would fist pump for days to that shit! anything proper hard, when i started dj’ing i moved over to electro and house. but i used to look down my nose at anything “soft” which i should have been ashamed of. its been so long i canhardly remember who i used to listen to! never was a fan of angerfist though, a lot of his stuff didnt really strike a chord with me for some reason.

        • noxxi

          neophyte as well, that was a firm favourite!

  • midiman

    i did a seasonal dj job for 3 months this winter and i had to play 10-14 hours on average. i did some sets with 16 hours a normal 5 hour + set would be like a vacation for me now. it was very deamnding because often there where no eating breaks and my ears are completely destroyed. money was good but i think i will do that never again.

    • midiman

      i have to add that i worked 7 days a week..

      • Dj Richi AC

        ear plugs my friend… the best friends of a dj

  • Armando

    Nice. Thanks for the quote recognition :)

  • Ryan Supak

    I’ve got nothing to add except that DJ Harvey is a genius.

    • sheik_yerbouti

      I want to seem him soon. He plays Berghain once a year!

  • the_boss

    just make sure u have some of these .,..

    • Oddie O’Phyle

      lol… a pasted out mangler that did too much? i’d rather run to the green room during a long track to bun a quick one.

    • chris

      …some of these .,.. Abbey Road Marching Powder

    • Roguesy

      A ladder made out of powdered sugar?! Im preparing for a DJ set bro, not baking a pie.

  • OrderedChaos

    I tend to love Markus Schulz’s advice with marathon/open to close sets where he treats it in sections where he starts the first couple of hours like an opening DJ or what he hopes an opener will do for him, get more standard main room tracks that people would expect, and as it gets later he allows himself to get more deep and random to really take the crowd on a journey.

  • Tyler

    I’ve really only played sets that long at house parties.. not very high pressure, really just kind of casually playing music but sometimes the party pops off and it can be the most rewarding feeling to just be absolutely GETTIN IT surrounded by your best friends

    • Toontown

      This is something I haven’t been able to do in a while and I miss it.

  • http://djsaintrob.com/ Saint Rob,Club mU

    For long sets I make sure I have a few aspirin, tums, and caffiene pills in my bag just in case. I also have some granola bars and a banana that is in a hard case that looks like a sex toy. If someone were to look through my gig bag it would appear that I packed random pills and a sex toy. LOL.

  • samuel agius

    I suggest that when playing for long hours, that you have playlist with relaxing songs such as chill out and lounge. A playlist with some minimal, underground and progressive for warm up. A playlist for peak time with big room house, uplifting trance etc…. . Also it’s important that during peak times you don’t play songs greater than 4 minutes. Also a cool down playlist can be useful before closing your set.

  • Richard3

    I had a one year residency in a small club in Paris, France. Average gig was 7h and NYE was 10.
    Track selection was wide, from tango to electro. The most apreciated thing by the crowd was when I mixed two styles at the time to be sure there were no haters left.
    I had only one moto: play chic or play not.
    You don’t need to play 15 minutes of every single genre as long as the selection has a global matching groove.

    Floor is getting empty? Know your basics and keep the best disco and pop for these times. It will also give you a break.

    I usually considered the gig was a good one when I saw the girl begging for lady gaga dancing on Pleasurekraft or any good non-commercial house track .

  • Guy&Girl

    If anyone ever asks you to do a wedding reception in Wales, expect it to run late. Very late. Did one from 5 PM until 2:30 AM, so a solid 9.5 hours of people dancing. The only time the floor would clear was to eat. But for entertainment and feedback, it beat any club I’ve played so far. I’ve never seen 100 people bust out into some kind of choreographed dance everyone inherently knew.

    • Dan White

      Any chance you remember the track you played that caused the choreographed dance?

      • Guy&Girl

        Bounce – Calvin Harris. No idea where they learned it, but I just stood there mouth agape. 15 year olds, 60 year olds, all moving in step.

        • Inside man

          When I first played Gangam style in a club i remember actually being quite terrified! Everyone jumping up and down at once was rattling the hell out of the booth

  • DJ Substantia

    I do 9pm-2am thursday’s and fridays in a college town. The club format is all electronic and no hip hop. It’s usually empty until 12:30am so I play lots and lots of awesome music most of the college kids have not heard yet. at 12:30 it’s all top40 electro/mashup 4 on the floor stuff. I used to drink quite a bit here. Lately I notice it’s easier without drinking. 1 month sober. This was a good read. I like drinking better on my own time. I think I’ll stay stopped for well……. until I feel like it.

    I Love my spot but how do I get them to loosen the grip on the hip hop? I have seen 2 other DJ’s (in other parts of the venue) get fired. I depend on this money but I would like to play everything!

    • Dan White

      Be careful about trying to get club management to change their mind about hip hop if you’ve seen people get fired for exactly that. The tough part is that often the best way to convince someone who isn’t a DJ about how well a genre might work is to show them a full dance floor with people really into it.

      I recommend finding some really good hybrid hip hop / electro tracks. You’re already on the mashup train, so you’ve got a good starting place. What about trap?

      • DJ Substantia

        Trap is acceptable to an extent. I have listened to everyone’s advice and I think I will have a talk with the boss.
        THANKS !

      • Anonymous

        Simple answer to ‘good hybrid hip-hop/electronic tracks’ Pretty Lights, Gramatik, and ill.Gates

    • Bart

      Try to find out what the problem is with HipHop … I had some guest spots in a college town in Belgium, they gave me pretty much carte blanche as long as the dancefloor moved, but please NOT too much hiphop/rnb since it attracks a certain crowd they didn’t want in the bar.

    • djfreesoul

      About the hip-hop: Try to get them to open another night with a two hour set of commerical RnB and OldSchool HipHop. Stay out of the stuff that has not been a radio hit. Sprite it up with some latino, a lot of that styles is influenced by RnB or keeps some beat from HipHop.

      See how it goes. I played a club that had a no-HipHop policy. It was caused by another DJ that played ONLY HipHop, the ganster thing/style, it attracted the wrong crowd, a lot of fighting etc. BUT: it was 10 yrs ago(?).

      Now I play resident at a place where the other DJs is very into House, Tech or Nu:Disco-styles. A while back I was so tired of this 4/4 all night, and started playing RnB and HipHop at the end of the night! A LOT of guests has given good feedback. Especially girls who are not into the current EDM, and want to DANCE and not just JUMP AROUND. The owner has also been pleased, because girls dancing means boys buying drinks…

    • andreimatei

      Try to push the envelope as much as you can with hybrid tracks like Dan said. This one is a chill, early in the night track, but as an example: https://soundcloud.com/dragon-suplex/nelly-country-grammar-dragon

      • andreimatei

        And ugh, sorry for the HUGE preview. Not sure how to post just the link. :/

    • ATribeCalledWes

      If you’re doing open format…take this for what it’s worth…a promoter once told me, “if they can’t sing to it, don’t play it”. What I took that to mean was, all that mattered was asses in the club, drinking and moving. I also took that to mean including classic R&B that all the hip hop came from, learning a lot about disco, house classics, and 80′s…you would be amazed how much hip hop comes from those genres. Mainfloor prime time prob has to stay current, but in 6+ hours, you can definitely vibe out on volumes of forgotten tracks that you would be amazed people actually know from the cradle…

  • Defanutley

    I play a 6 hour set every Saturday night from 7pm till 1am and it’s amazing how many genres you can squeeze into those 6 short hours.
    Learning to feel the vibe of a room is a big advantage

  • Michael

    Great post. I usually play (birthday/wedding)parties where the musical range is pretty much broad. Just a few things, I would like to add and suggest from that experience. For the first two or three hours, when people come in, eat and chat I like to socialize with guests. This gives the opportunity to learn their expectations for the evening. And I get some “allies” by talking to them when it comes to getting people on the floor later on. I also stick to some small rituals before I change from “warm-up” to “party mode”: refresh at the lavatory, get some water for the rest of the night – small things that somehow help getting my mind straight. And finally: Try to make the following day as comfortable as possible.

    • Dan White

      Yeah, creating some allies with other people around the venue is a good tactic! This is also a good reason to be close with the bar tenders / bar backs / bouncers, etc – they’ll often have a good idea of what the crowd is like and if they have a minute on break you can get some great insights from them.

      • sheik_yerbouti

        Being good friend with the bar tenders and bouncers also has a significant impact on your standing in the club + your next visit to the club as a guest can benefit from it too.

  • djmickyp

    the days of long regular nights have gone.. i used to do 7pm-5am… weekly friday, saturday and shorter weeknights and we did 4-6nights a week… i now feel guilty doing a 3-4 hr gig except kids disco..2 hrs drains my energy at those events!

  • anonymous dj

    really good article, for my second ever paid gig i ended up doing a 5 hour set and it would defiantly been good to know this stuff. I think its a really good idea to stretch the songs you really like out a bit and only do the quick mixes for the songs that aren’t working. Prepping up big playlists organized by genre/style help big time too.

  • chris

    at a point you jump in an trance-flow, and at this point the music will change.

  • Captain Obvious

    Isn’t this all deadly obvious stuff that anyone in a position to play 5+ hour sets for a large crowd would already know? Uh, find out where the bathrooms are and don’t drink too much? Gee thanks, DJTT.

    • deejae snafu

      Hey man if you don’t have something to add to the conversation, don’t subtract from it just to hear yourself speak. If you already know everything , good for you but at least have the humility to accept there are folks that do not. You would not frequent this site unless it did at times offer you something you can use, or unless you’re no troll with no life, so unless it’s the latter, get over yourself. If it is the latter, get over yourself.

  • Marquest

    haven’t had the chance to play a long style set like this yet, but good tips from harvey and simon! will keep this in mind if i get the opportunity