View Full Version : Crowd stealing: a guide

01-21-2014, 06:04 AM
In an ideal world the different rooms in a venue would work together for the benefit of the patrons, they would play opposing styles to cater for as many tastes as possible, there would be no judgement if one room was busier than the other.

But this being reality it's all about having the busiest room by any means, fair or foul; and being perceived as the better DJ, let's call it Inter Room Warfare (IRW).

And don't get me wrong, that's how most of the crowd will see it and more importantly the Venue Owner/ Promotor/ House Party Organiser (VOPHPO). I used to promote myself and moving between rooms a lot means you can't really get a feel for mixing and flow, but you can get a quick headcount.

From decades of parties, clubbing, a six year residency and experimentation, I have found a few strategies that work for me.

CAVEAT: These work for me and I've seen others do similar; things will be different for you in your town, read with an open mind and see if you could apply it to yourself.

Filling a small room vs a bigger one:

Being room 2 often means having the second best soundsystem, less sense of occasion, you can look like a small time bedroom DJ and opening empty after room 1 has a party vibe is hard; it can still, however, be a powerful position to play.

You can set the volume to a comfortable level, encourage intimacy/ a sense of coolness and you don't need loads of people to make it look busy.

In fact if the night is dead, you can stand a good chance of getting everyone in the venue into your room, I try and do this every time someone tries to steal my Friday night residency.
The last four times, rivals reckoning they could do a better job, were give room 1, with me relegated to room 2, by the end of the night I had them all in my room; room 1: a wasteland.

Now my secret is something many of you couldn't/ wouldn't want to duplicate, I play all genres except the (usually) one genre in the main room. I pro-actively get requests, and when people request, afterwards I'm like "ok, what else" and "what are your friends into".
People struggle to leave when you play a medley of all their favourite songs :lol: . In my case the nights were never busy, therefor once I had two groups of people dancing, it became a party and that was that for room 1.

The final insult that can be delivered here, is once you're packed, play the classic anthems of the genre from room 1.

Just to show em, it wasn't the music, it was the better DJ (where has the biteme smillie gone?)

Big warning obviously on the "final insult", this is a dick move, bad karma, can be perceived as being unprofessional and can cause hatred from the room 1 DJs and possibly the VOPHPO. I've only included it for completeness and let's just say: some people have it coming to them!

Now the above is not for everyone, the main strategy for room 2 is to play the opposite of whatever is playing in room 1,
ideally something nice/ with real vocals, but if that's what room 1 is doing, maybe try dark and tech. Try for something to appeal to those who don't like room 1's genre (like an antidote) AND is compatible with those who like room 1's genre.

A very rough set of examples, this would vary geographically, check local club flyers see what they are doing, here in Nham:

Room 1 ----- -----Room 2

House ------ ----- Funk, RnB, open format commercial
DnB ------ ----- Reggae, Hip Hop, RnB, UK Garage
Open format commercial ------ ----- A good niche genre with a following, open format underground, Funk/ Disco/ eighties
Open format underground ------ ----- Well known anthems, cheesy party tracks, I'll confess to not being sure here...
IDM, Dubstep ----- ----- real music (I'm kidding)

For example I used to go/ play at Hard House/ Techno parties, I'm not that fond of those genres so i would drift to room 2.
Which was usually dead, with no DJ or a DJ that didn't want to play to a dead room. Most times all I wanted was to hear something chilled, which at the time it was either Reggae or ambient DnB/Jungle, so I get on the decks, play a few and people just drifted in till it was packed. This was probably more due to it being the only room where the volume wasn't earbleeding...

Ok, this is not always possible, you might have been booked to play a certain genre.

Not all is lost, try and get some people out of that scene to come and support, 6-12 dedicated fans in a smaller room is halfway a party. And makes it easier for others to walk in, as they won't be the first in.

Because it can be really hard to get people in to a totally empty room 2, most sheeple drift in, see that they are on their own and scamper off immediately.

Girls are the saviour here, get some girls in, guys will follow. In fact sometimes, if you are playing girl friendly tunes and room 1 isn't, they will go get their friends from room 1 and you will be really cooking.

I used to try a Reggae night at room 2 of a student night; not easy really. But the room's door was on the same corridor as the girls toilets...
If I heard a group of girls (one can tell by the laughter) I used to bang on a classy Reggae Rmx of popular non danceable RnB track, timed so that they would still hear it when they walked back. They stick their heads in, have a laugh at how quiet it was, have a laugh whilst dancing to the unfamiliar rmx. Play another one, they stay, still laughing, some guys stick their heads through the door; they see unattended girls, they laugh, they stay and then I laugh!

Now at least you stand a chance... And it is not selling out, there must be a few tracks that you like, that you know girls like.?.

Be careful of your success in room 2 though, that Reggae night came to an end, because I was killing room 1's vibe and yet not appealing to enough to take over room 1 or the whole night.
It was better to have room 2 closed and pack everyone into room 1 :( , The tail does not wag the dog...

You don't have to do any of these of course, DJing room 2s and 3-5s can be fun and great, because the success of the night does not depend on you.
This is a good time to play what you want and attract real fans. The multi room club I frequent at, I can tell that the DJs don't care whether their room is packed or not (by the way they play), the random flotsam of their crowd will soon fill it again.

This is IMO how it should be.

Filling/ Maintaining Room 1

DJing 101 really, don't mess up and you shouldn't have to worry. The fight is yours to lose, because if you do your job correctly, room 2 doesn't stand a chance.

Being room 1 means being the featured attraction, on the best sound system, playing the big time, the cool ruler of the dancing masses.

However you can blow it, warming up the main room can be hard, if it's slow filling up. If a VOPHPO is foolish enough to open room 2 before room 1 has a party... Then you can have a real fight on your hands.

Room 1 needs a lot more people before it looks busy/ "alive", the volume is often too loud because the VOPHPO wants it "banging" and you can look like a right loser as people walk out as it's "dead".

Back in the day, I threw a big house party, invited lots of groups from a lot of different scenes. Ye gads they were slow in turning up, then finally the trance lot turned up, a good ten people, the party was saved! I did other stuff, turned round and they were gone, my house party looked dead and new arrivals were thinking of leaving because of that! WTF?

I found them squirled away in my bed room, trancing away. I switched off the sound system and kicked them all back into the main room (got to love trance softies lol ), the party critical mass was achieved, 45 min later the place is packed then they could run back to room 2.

Smart Room 2ers, would support room 1 to make sure the night actually kicks off.

But often Room 2ers are stupid, ego driven bottom feeders; or the VOPHPO is an idiot and/ or he wants to see DJ blood.

2 man enter, 1 man leave, kind of stuff. 2 DJs enter, only one of them gets a crowd, or more likely: people leave because the place looks dead with everyone spread round.

So room 1's job made twice as hard and yet the night's success hinges on it.

First of all try to get VOPHPO to not open room 2 before a party kicks off, give the reasoning above, it is both persuasive and true.

If it is to be war, the dirty trick here is to play the same genre/ music as room 2. This is rather obvious, meaning the VOPHPO might complain. Just tell them "sorry, you are playing to the crowd" :D . With the better sound, you should prevail.

Of course, without an alternative, you stand a good chance of losing out of the venue, everyone who does not like the genre you're playing.

I can be subtler than that, as I play open format. If I want to compete, I play the obscure originals that were sampled in the anthems of the genre in room 2.
You can literally stop room 2's followers on their way through your room, because all of a sudden, they need hear the rest of the song.

So if competing with hip hop, play the Funk and Disco originals, make the Hip Hoppers hear how much better the music is without some illiterate bragging all over it :P .

Competing with house, play the Disco originals, make em hear how irritating just hearing the same snippit looped ad infinitum is, when you've heard the original masterpiece live and breathe :p .

With a bit of luck you can put them off/ educate them right out of room 2 for life :lol:

On some occasions, the party starts in Room 2, then they open room 1. This is horrible as you are starting at a massive disadvantage.

Advice here is to just play it cool, Use some of the tactics from room 2, play a different/ opposing genre, a low pleasing volume if room 2 is tearing it out, girl songs and finally judge room 2's crowd age and try to play a favourite track from their child hood. Get this right, they can't leave.
I've used Fleetwood Mac, the Korgis, MJ's Human Nature and 90s RnB successfully in this situation.

Mainly though Room 1's are yours to lose through bad transitions and song selection. If competing, do not "rotate the floor" to help bar sales, you want to keep them hype as much as possible, so they can't leave and if forced to, they get back as soon as possible.

This is possibly the reason why you hear so many DJs pounding out relentless anthems, they might be worried that they could lose the "big time" vibe, then lose people to room 2 and possibly ruin the entire night.

If you are restricted to a single genre so you can't really switch it up and you have lost the crowd to room 2; then I would just act a bit non-plussed, "I'm playing DnB at a DnB night and everyone's listening to house lol". Here is where being humble helps, play what you advertised you were going to do, look like you're enjoying it and hope room 2 makes a mistake or people drift back.

Be really friendly to any who do, especially if they want to talk, get them on your side, like you are an underdog. Get even one dancing lunatic on the floor that can really snowball (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA8z7f7a2Pk)...

Don't lose your temper or throw a hissy fit, people are watching, it looks bad already, you cause drama that makes it memorable...

Certain big name DJs are known in Nham, only because they couldn't keep a crowd and then had an epic meltdown.

BTW if you are victorious in room 2, having used some of the tips above, even if not, be real humble/ nice about it, for definite don't gloat or rub it in. Even if others do it for you, deny and blame some circumstance. Everyone will know the truth anyway...

So far the advice in this thread has been admittedly random, self contradictory and in many ways potentially harmful to reputation, club nights and scenes. People in the know, VOPHPO, other DJs, can sometimes see what you are doing, if you do the above, some don't care, some do.

I once lost room 1 to a trance lot, it was a quiet night, they had 30+ people for a birthday party.
I was chillin with the VOPHPO as the room 2 posse swished past, one of their DJs' gf breathlessly exclaimed "at one point room 2 was even busier than room 1!". The rest of them kind of sneered in my direction and filed out.
The VOPHPO, the moment their back was turned, :rollseyes: "like to see them do that without the birthday party".

The next time was rather different :devil:, no birthday party, I started cool House sampled Disco, a whopping hour long 90's dance anthems set, DnB, UK garage, Rave and Reggae. They died hard, I said not a word.

Goes the other way too, of course, like my residency club doesn't inform me that they are opening room 2 anymore :lol:. Except when they ask me to announce over the mic, that the room/ bar 2 is open, because room 1 is packed out :)

But my attitude has changed over the years to a more holistic/ "what's best for the night/ people" one, then again I've proved my worth to the VOPHPO over the years. Like a big dog, I can ignore the maulings of DJ puppies and go for the higher ground.

What is to follow is an account of my experiences dealing with room 2 at my residency; I am aiming to show the consequences of employing these tactics and how my thinking has changed.

1) Worst DJ Ever

This guy was brought in at my suggestion, the idea was that all he would play is extreme cheese and very badly, freeing me from having to play them downstairs, yet providing the alternative.

I used to get on the mic and actively encourage people to go there, then one fateful night, when room 2 did get busy, I found out that the bar take in room 2 was not included in my bonus calculations. :blank: .

That was it, no more announcements and the judicious employment of extreme cheese and he was toast.

2) The Radio DJ.

At the time, this lad had bad mixing skills, bad programming and yet was good on the mic. He knew the student girlie crowd better than me.
They would drift upstairs and not come back; others would though when he transitioned badly. But he was definitely gifted in a way, one night I found that he organised and pulled off a Wall of Death (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKrGMbRc4NA), this in a 50 people capacity room :eek:.

I did war him for a bit, played student girlie stuff to the max, it worked, though the club suffered and we lost plenty of our core crowd.

Bad Jimanee!

So I stopped, well no, but I warm up with his style, then as he opens I switch to retro sing along anthems, girls drift off.
Then I play lots of the guy stuff (our kind of core audience, certainly the ones with the money) and play the modern stuff to catch the girls upon exiting room 2.

01-21-2014, 06:06 AM
It can be painful though, to sustain room 1 momentum for hours, then flag or one little hic up, watch a few girls leave, watch them come back again and drag all their hot friends away, that hurts!

3) House and Funk guy

He could competently mix House and would just play the Funk. Quite unpleasant competition, he also worked bar at the club too, had listened to loads of my sets, so he knew my weaknesses.

If I was playing retro classics, he would play house. Then to counter I play chart stuff/ 90s dance, he would switch to Funk.

He had a 5-15 people following too and he could use them to jumpstart his room, a fair few were chemically enhanced, so they would stay to the end.

It's not a nice feeling to close 15 minutes early in room 1, to find out there is still a party in room 2 :(

Well with his following I was never going to kill him off, so I use him instead. As he's picked the cool stuff, I'll do cheesy party and when 01:30 is passed; I'll go and check what he's doing, with a view of keeping at least a crowd for me.

One thing I hope is being picked up on here, is the value of being able to play more than 1 genre, even if genre 2 is not strong.

4) Quality house/ trance DJ

Recent developments at my club have put this guy in room 1 for January, with me in room 2. Normally not a problem, but fiddly because this is the work of a long time (but new to the club) promoter, who might end up buying the club (and would then probably sack me anyway).
So I've been playing it really cool, don't want to ruin him because he might end up my boss, but do want to be feared and respected.

In the end it wasn't even a competition, I filled my room, his was dead. I down played it to promoter guy, we agreed that town was dead and that the birthday party that came in just wanted cheese.

Second week, promoter arranged for 40 people (a work's birthday party) to come, 20 minutes later, they are all in my room. A different 50+ group, same thing. Room 1 just plays House, compared to open format; IMO that won't hold a general crowd.

I found out that the promoter complained and tried to have me shut down ( touche to him lol), the current owner/ boss refused.

Think he's amused by the situation, next week should be busier, it will be interesting to see if that makes a difference - Update: they had enough and gave up, he even didn't bother with the much hyped end of month party. Club consensus is that I'm the safest bet for a Friday, this is how it should be! :P

Room independent strategies

This thread has been written mainly as a dirty tricks manual, for you to avoid or counter these tricks being done to you.

Or if you are promoting a multi room night, you'll have a greater appreciation of the reasons why people favour one room over another and will know how to stop DJs ruining your night just to look big.

Because VOPHPO and punters want a party in all the rooms and they don't like to be too crowded, people will leave for many reasons, you don't want them to leave for any of these avoidable reasons:

A: They can't hear a genre that was advertised.
B: They can't get into the "good room", or they can't move in there.
C: The room playing the only genre they like is dead.

So VOPHPO who are aware, can influence, mitigate and work with DJs; to avoid these pitfalls. They can delay opening rooms, shut rooms, they can speak directly to missbehaving DJs and can use props to bring people in.

By props I mean anything non DJ/ music related; that will attract and keep people in a room.

1) Smoke machines. I love them, get a couple of people dancing, apply smoke, place looks lively. Suppose this applies to foam too.

2) Glow sticks/ face painting. I've seen these well used, as people want to stay in the dark/ UV lit room, so as to show them off best.

3) Smoking. I hate smoking, I hate competing against a smoking room, if mine is not.

4) Card tables/ gambling/ games. These can be good for keeping people in a room, but can have the draw back of competing with your dance floor.

5) Scantily clad dancing girls. Except no subtitute, you will keep a crowd.

6) Food. Nuff said.

6) Anything else you can think of. I once sat and watched a mediocre techno DJ for about half an hour at a squat party, didn't like the tunes, the mixing was all over the place.

But he was running a cafe and dealing at the same time; he kept my attention :eek:.

That is pretty much everything I can think of concerning IRW, well actually...

The biggest upset I've ever seen, losing 90% of the room, was when someone did the worst fart ever, right in the middle of the floor and people ran.

A bit hard to conjure up on demand :lol:, but worth pointing out. See this (http://www.djforums.com/forums/showthread.php?34825-What-does-your-performance-smell-like) thread for a solution.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this thread and that it has provided food for thought. It was not easy to write and I doubt that it is complete.
So I would love to hear feedback, or anyone else's tricks, or if you have any good examples, have any questions and even if you disagree with anything.

Let make sure DJF DJs always fill their rooms :tup:

01-21-2014, 06:07 AM
Keeping this post in case of additions.

Deep N Sexy
02-01-2014, 04:21 PM

Very interesting, and funny reading, man do i feel ive been through allmost the same, its good to know that wherever you are in the world, you can end up doing or seeing / hearing the same thing.

I dont like to steal a crowd, but sometimes the gloves need to come off, especially when the owner or promotor dont see whats happening.
Your in room 1, another guy is in room 2 and the next is in room 3
You play one partikular genre / genres, room 2 plays disco, sing along and eurovision, room 3 should play rnb / hip hop and latin
Even that you know that you kan kill every dude if you change the tunes, you dont do it, but the other guys do, so if your not a curious guy, youd never know.
just take a stroll and watch what the other guys are doing.
Well, guy 2 is playing house, trance rnb you name it, guy 3 is playing disco, funk, soul, trance, eurovision and more
so what do you do, take it as a professional and just keep the cool or wage war on everybody.
Well first i waited out the two, cause they (war)ed on themselfes, then when the victory could be annouced (Guy nr 3)
i aimed my sights on him, and got to work, playing the best, most modern versions of the tracks that guy nr 2 had in his arsenal including my own
pulverizing him, i know it was wrong, but they did me wrong before, and man did it feel good, seeing the owner and promotor with their jaws dropped to their knees when i launched the final stroke before closing.

Back in black Vs We wil rock you, the poor guy did not stand a chance :D

Room2 was empty, Room3 was?, empty, i felt like a king in my booth, having every skirt (Women) and wallet (Men) on my floor, and in the staircase both dj 2 and 3 was watching.

Try to keep the peace though, as you did say before, you dont know when the younger guys ending up beeing you boss.



02-01-2014, 04:35 PM
Niiiiiiice! Rep.

02-06-2014, 05:50 AM
Good one D&S, "its good to know that wherever you are in the world, you can end up doing or seeing / hearing the same thing."
Isn't it? Suppose it's just people being people.

I lolled when you mentioned, that you wouldn't know if you didn't go for a walk around, I know exactly what you mean, there is that shock of "hey they aren't following the game plan, little b@stards".

I still remember catching the radio DJ, at a private party in room2, battering out ALL the girlie 80s hits, at like 10:30, full well knowing that was the stuff I HAD to play downstairs, (long story) :argh:

And cheers KLH, shall try and re-write inna bit as per suggestion.

Tommy D
02-06-2014, 06:58 AM
Interesting and funny read. Good work :tup:

02-06-2014, 09:16 AM
Won't work in all types of clubs though.

This is the fail safe way of getting everyone in your room.

Steal the power cable to the mixer in room 1.

If they use a mac/laptop, steal their soundcard power cable.

If they have spares, simply pay a friend to act like "that drunk douche" and spill a drink all over their gear.

You = winner.

02-06-2014, 10:58 AM
Jeebus Adzm, you're a bit hardcore really, stealing then sabotage! Is this a London Ting? :eek:

02-06-2014, 11:05 AM

Capitalism at work mate. Dog eat dog world n all that.

02-06-2014, 03:44 PM
You thought of investing in a gigantic fog machine?
Or simply throw a smoke grenade, people would flee to safety in your room. :D

02-06-2014, 03:55 PM
You thought of investing in a gigantic fog machine?
Or simply throw a smoke grenade, people would flee to safety in your room. :D


02-06-2014, 04:33 PM
Loooooow :lol:

02-10-2014, 12:37 PM
I'll admit I had thought of a stink bomb, but that would be a bit obvious and too risky.

Had thought of sending round a Hot Chick to request some crowd clearing Bieber, but to be fair, I've never done that so I couldn't really say.

03-22-2014, 01:55 PM
I loved reading this guide, it was real eye opening and a great read.
I haven't had the situation where I had to crowd still yet but, glad I got to this guide before hand!

05-09-2014, 06:38 AM
Jimanee that was awesome.

05-23-2014, 06:46 AM
Fantastic read, thanks! It shows that being different than the others can bring you success.

One problem for a lot of DJ's; they do not play different genres and stick to the most popular one, so this does not apply for every DJ which is shame.

05-26-2014, 09:01 AM
Cheers guys, there's a part 2 on the way. Watch this space.