How to Hire a DJ for an 80s Night

I recently received email asking me if I knew of any DJs where they lived, and unfortunately, I've never had to hire a DJ before. So what this page is going to become is two things, (1) tips on what to ask when hiring a DJ, (2) a list of DJs people have used. The appeal for having a strictly 80s night is that unlike the music of today, most music in the 80s received airplay on many stations. Also, most of the music is very dancable, without having to be something that is strictly dance related. Also, most of this music tends to put a smile on people's faces since it's so easily recognized, some of it almost cheezy. For help planning an entire 80s theme, check out the How to Plan an 80s Night page for suggestions and good songs to be played.

What to ask a DJ for an 80s Night

  • Do you carry 80s music?
    Music from the 80s hasn't made it quite into the widespread nostalgia realm yet. Usually the selection a DJ will have is going to be somewhat limited to easily recognized songs. A friend of mine recently asked the above question, and despite a yes to that question, didn't have such classic 80s tunes as "Come On Eilieen", "Obessison", "You Spin Me Like a Record", "Safety Dance". Basically, they should have a copy of the "Wedding Singer" soundtrack, or at least the tracks that are on it.
  • Do you have (...)?
    This is the most important question you can ask. Don't expect every DJ around to carry your favorite song. Most DJs specialize in dance music of various sorts, so Depeche Mode and the Cure are probably not high on their "must have" list. See the next question if they don't.
  • Can You Play CDs/Tapes I Provide?
    Chances are good your favorite songs might not be in a DJs collection, so this is a good question. Heaven forbid all you have is vinyl now-a-days, they might not even HAVE a record player, let alone bring one with them. You want to alert them you have something that is on a particular format, they might want a copy ahead of time in order to better accomodate you.
  • What are your rates, how much set up time do you need, is that night free?
    These questions are basically what determine if you can get the night. You should ask how long they can plan, and make sure you undestand how many hours your going to get. Also, if this is a wedding or similar event, the DJ should be counted as a guest for food requirements, since it's customary (so far as I know) to feed them too if there's a dinner being served (same for the photographer).
  • Do you have references? How long have you been in business?
    This isn't a bad question to ask, most DJs should be able to refer you to someone else who has hired them. You should also be leary of paying a lot for a relatively new DJ who hasn't established their services. Some DJs can even provide a cassette tape of their services upon request.
  • What kind of equipment do you use?
    A professional DJ will have equipment you have never heard of most likely. That is because their equipment is commercial, designed for rugged handling. If they say a Radio Shack CD player with Optimus 3 speakers, beware! Try and note the manufacturer and do a quick search at Alta Vista for the name and see what kind of page it shows up on. If it's on a DJ oriented page (other than his own of course) you're probably ok.