“JUST A DJ” vs. PROFESSIONAL ENTERTAINER

In DJ Stuff, Professionalismby djscottshirley

Everyone knows a DJ. At least, we all know someone who claims to be a DJ.

If you search “Dallas Fort Worth DJ” on Google, you will get more than 3,600 hits. Of that number, about 50 are active members of the local American DJ Association chapter, and only half of those are professionals…meaning that they earn their living as DJs. All the rest are part-time or hobby DJs, many with little or no experience.

So how do you get to be a DJ? Print a business card. Or make a website. Or just say you are a DJ. Really, that’s all it takes. You don’t even need to own equipment, it can be rented. And many wanna-be start-up DJs illegally download all their music off the Internet.

No license is required. There are no barriers to entry to this profession. Which is fine, it’s what American free enterprise is all about, and we all had to start somewhere. Most of the top professionals started out playing at parties for friends using minimal sound equipment.

And if you just want someone to bring a sound system to your party and play tunes, and you’re not too picky about what music is played, you might get by with a hobby DJ.

Never let an amateur monkey with your special event!

Never let an amateur monkey with your special event!

But when it comes to the special once-in-your-life celebrations, can you trust an amateur to get everything right? When you need a talented Master of Ceremonies for your wedding, reunion, bar mitzvah, or anniversary party, you clearly need more than “just a DJ.”

Professional entertainers live off of referrals. They must do an outstanding job to put food on the table, and must get it right every time.

Top professionals have the experience to help you plan your event, and can suggest ways to create memorable moments and an overall fun experience for all your guests. A pro can provide sound reinforcement and lighting for any size venue, and has the experience and gear to make any room sound good, without any echo or feedback.

Top professionals have insurance, written contracts, and extensive references. They have backups and contingency plans for hardware, software, transportation and staffing. Top professionals will do whatever it takes to make your event a success.

Professional Entertainers are well known by the top planners and venue managers, and are recommended by them. And the top professionals know each other.

Any time The Party Machine is booked up for an event, we will refer our clients to one of the top 10 professional entertainers in the area. The other 3,590 on the Google search are not up to our standards, and cannot provide the same level of service our clients deserve.

Yes, he really pulled it off!

In Weddings!, Weird Things at Partiesby djscottshirley

Laura booked her December wedding at the bridal show in February. She called me in the early summer, and told me, rather casually, that she had just had her leg amputated.

As an MC who is accustomed to public speaking, I found myself at a rare loss for words. Thinking that she must be heartbroken, since she was really looking forward to dancing at her wedding, I wondered how this might change her plans. Laura explained that she had a prosthetic leg, and was having a “Miss America” leg fitted for the wedding, and planned to dance the night away in December! She had a healthy, positive  attitude about her experience.

As the time passed I pondered the most professional way to handle this at her reception. We met two weeks before her big day, along with fiance Jim. I watched her walk in from the car, and if I didn’t know that she had a prosthetic limb, I would not have noticed even a slight limp. She moved remarkably well.

Our planning meeting went smoothly, except for the question I kept avoiding. Finally I asked if they planned to do a garter toss, and Jim responded “Yes.”

“We thought we would put the garter on her prosthetic leg, and I would pull it off,” were Jim’s exact words, followed by a long and uncomfortable silence. We all three scanned each others’ eyes, and in perfect three-part harmony we all said, “The leg…”

Well, that answered that question! Laura said that this was her reality, that she lived with every day, and now Jim would also. Making light of it was their way of dealing with it. Might as well have a little fun! We even selected special leg-themed music, but would keep this a surprise for the guests.

I have always worked hard to make my weddings unique and personalized, and I thought I had seen everything, but this would be a first. All manner of gags and stunts have been used for the garter toss, such as grooms tunneling and removing the garter with their teeth, pulling out kitchen utensils, rubber chickens, and even a miniature kitchen sink. This would be different – really different.

Don’t try this at home, kids, we’re professionals!

When the time came for the garter removal, I played the obvious choice, Legs by Z Z Top. We had sampled 15 other leg songs, including “Put Your Party Legs On,” but decided to maintain a semblance of good taste, since we had enough of a shocker planned.

And it came off (forgive me) just as planned, and as expected, half of the men gathered to catch the garter laughed uncontrollably, while the other half gasped in horror.

Jim and Laura Schwendig at Bass Hall; photo by Kent "Hoss" Evans

Jim and Laura Schwendig at Bass Hall; photo by Kent "Hoss" Evans

The reception was a grand and glorious evening, and Laura indeed danced the night away! As the guests assembled at the exit to send them off in a carriage, Jim grabbed me and asked me to share a toast with him and his Best Man. So I lifted a glass and proclaimed “To Jim: You really pulled it off!”

Which of course made champagne come out his nose! Fortunately everyone else was out of the banquet hall.

The Best Wedding Reception…Ever!

In Weddings!by djscottshirley

Finally there is a book for wedding planners that is written from the entertainment perspective! Not a planning guide, nothing about invitation etiquette or table linens, this book is purely about making weddings FUN and memorable, as they all should be.

Written by California wedding DJ and past American DJ Association President Peter Merry, this is the book I wish I had written myself. Peter did an outstanding job, in consultation with several of the top wedding entertainers in the country, and has compiled the best “idea book” I have ever seen about wedding fun.

I am so impressed with this book, that I consider it required reading for anyone planning a wedding, especially if they want to avoid the ordinary, everyday “cookie cutter” reception.

So I ordered a case of books, and provide one to all my wedding clients. Yes, it’s that good.

DJ Scott with author Peter Merry

DJ Scott with author Peter Merry