DJ Workshop – all hype or worth it?

8.11.2017 by Julia Schwenner

Last week I went to a vinyl DJ workshop for the first time. I'd already tried out spinning some records at my friend's place here in Berlin (she has a huge selection of records and really has got it down) which was a lot of fun, but thought it might be interesting to learn a couple of tricks from someone who had taught this before. Plus, it just seemed like a fun thing to do on a Friday night.

In total we were eight girls (this was an all-female workshop) plus Kat, the dj who was giving the 4h-workshop. At first we chatted a bit about each of our experiences with DJing, and it soon became clear that we were all on very different levels. Some had already participated in several workshops and were more or less there to 'interchange ideas' and meet other women interested in DJing.

dj turntables

Others, including myself, had tried it out once or twice but were practically complete novices to the whole topic. Kat then explained the basics of the dj booth electronics to us which was really interesting and most dj friends would not really know or care to explain.

After two hours the practical part began. The first exercise of simply putting on a record and playing around a bit with the mixer was a good way to get into it - changing the volume, taking out the bass/highs/middle tones etc. Everybody took their turn.

The second exercise consisted of spinning the record to find the exact point where one track starts, which seemed like a good way of getting a feeling for how a vinyl record is built. Kat was answering our questions and explaining a couple of things here and there.

So far so good. But what happened now was to be expected. The ones that already knew how to play got bored following our baby-step plan and started playing and mixing their vinyls like they would at home. That was still fun, but after a while, in turn, got boring for the ones that were there to learn from scratch (get it?). Unfortunately, the teacher didn't really manage to bridge this gap, stopped explaining anything and surrendered to drinking beers and chatting with the rest of the group that was sitting around waiting for their turn. The good thing was that in the backroom of Stereo 33, we had all the time in the world and, also after the official four hours of workshop were over, could stay and continue playing.

Upon bothering her to please show us some more details, she explained the actual mixing together of two records which was clearly going to be the last step of the class, since everybody was getting more and more into a party mood, and it was getting almost impossible to persuade the more advanced participants to leave the turntables to the beginners.

Resuming, I had a fun five/six hours and get to know some cool women during this dj workshop. I could even take home a few tricks and hints. But there was also a lot of waiting in vain for our turn and not as much input and initiative from the teacher as we might have expected. All in all, it was worth the 20 euros I spent, but next time I would rather ask a knowledgeable friend to show me how to really spin a record.

For you DJs out there, what do you think is the best way to learn?