The job of a DJ is to set the tone, feel out the crowd and see what resonates with them the most. It’s no easy feat, especially as amateur DJs not hosting our own show and rather spinning at a party. Whether you’ve been given the honorable opportunity to deejay a frat, control the aux cord in your friend’s car or build a playlist for your roommate’s surprise party, here are a few tips that tend to fare well with any crowd.

1. Throwbacks
Getting everybody on the floor is the hardest part of a set, so kick off the night (when enough people have arrived) with a song that everybody shamelessly knows the words too. If you’re goal is to get people dancing, this is your golden ticket. Trust me, incorporate an early 2000s hit. Here are some choices:

London Bridge by Fergie

Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly

The Show Goes On by Lupe Fiasco

Paper Planes by M.I.A.

Boom Clap by Charli XCX

2. That song EVERYBODY knows
Yes, “Closer.” Pop, indie rock, country, or anything in between — if it’s on Billboard’s Top 40, it is a viable candidate for the set. As “basic” or “overdone” as some people may refer to it as, we need mainstream music to balance a party out. These songs are well-known, well-liked, and of course, insanely catchy to the point of singing it in the shower the morning after.

If we’re talking about a Syracuse frat party, drop a D.R.A.M. song. Not only is “Broccoli” fun to sing, but there’s also a nostalgic post-Juice Jam flare to it. Or, consider one of these:

In The Name of Love by Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha

Cheap Thrills by Sia

Caroline by Aminé

Fake Love by Drake

Final Song by MØ


3. Throw in a song that may not be well known, but is rising
Keep your eye on Spotify’s “New Music Friday” and Filtr US “New Music” playlists. They’ll expose you to some fresh songs and, even if you’re not crazy about the ones you hear, you may stumble upon artists that will soon hit the charts. Check out these options:

Phone Down by Lost Kings & Emily Warren

Ain’t My Fault by Zara Larsson

Perfect Strangers by JP Cooper

All of Me by Big Gigantic ft. Logic and ROZES

Runaways by Same Feldt, Deepend, Teemu

4. Something slow
Not slow dancing. Save that for your younger sibling’s prom. You need something to juxtapose your high energy tracks. I’d suggest songs with a mellow bass that makes a person want to sway with a little more sensuality. Let this be a nudge to the party-goers that if there was ever a time to make a move, you just manufactured the perfect setting.

But be scarce with this, don’t lose people on the dance floor because they’re getting tired of slow motions. Right after this, kick your set into high gear with something upbeat and jump-worthy — like these:

Drive by The Glades

Hope by Time Legend ft. BR/\VE

All We Know by The Chainsmokers

Somebody Else The 1975

Come First by Terror Junior

5. Jump
Divert from pop and edm for a couple of tracks. Throw some rap or hip-pop into the mix that keeps people moving and, if you’re lucky, gets them singing along. Frat guys will very much appreciate this. I recommend one of these:

Girls @ by Joey Purp ft. Chance the Rapper

Take Ü There by Jack Ü ft. Kiesza

Famous by Kanye West

Pick Up the Phone by Young Thug & Travis Scott ft Quavo

King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar

6. Shake it up
Finally. What you’ve been waiting for.

We all like to introduce our friends to the best song they’ve never heard. Scroll through your personal playlist and find songs that you’re currently loving — just don’t take away from the party’s groove. Remember that you may have amazing music taste but deejaying is about catering to the crowd’s music taste. Your challenge is finding a way to make both work.

My last tip is to never stick to the script. When you’re deejaying, you are bound to move some songs around, take some requests and adjust the mood. A good playlist requires balance so make sure you’re providing your crowd with a variety.