I decided that I wanted to become a mobile DJ when I was 7 years old.
I remember it clearly. A friend of mine had a disco party for his 7th birthday and his parents hired a local DJ called Phillip, who brought along his ‘Flipside Mobile Disco’. I was fascinated by it. He had an array of homemade lightboxes – complete with bare glass reflector lamps just waiting to be smashed into by the dancing children (no health and safety back then!) – and a twin deck that he used to play the latest chart hits from 7” vinyl. I was in awe! And it seemed that he was very popular, as I watched him pick up the phone that was built-in to his setup between every song! (For the benefit of younger readers, I later discovered that this was used for cuing songs in place of headphones, not for taking calls!!)
I begged my parents to book Phillip for my birthday party, and eventually they agreed. When he arrived in his Bedford Rascal van I couldn’t wait to watch him setup his gear, and was honoured to be given the privilege of being his ‘roadie’, carrying in a few of his lighter pieces of kit. Again, I was mesmerised by both the music and lights; I was even given the opportunity to venture behind the console to play a single of my choice! By the end of this two-hour party I knew that I wanted to be a mobile DJ when I was older.
It took five years, but by the age of 12 I had my own mobile disco setup and was getting paid to DJ for other children’s parties. ‘School’s Out Disco’ – named by my dad after Alice Cooper’s ‘70s hit (which I hadn’t even heard of!) – became incredibly successful and by the time I reached 18 I’d already DJed at hundreds of kids’ parties, school discos, family gatherings, and even my first wedding!
However, it seems that I am in the minority. When we were reviewing the results of our recent Pro Mobile Reader Survey I was surprised to find that less than 10% of the DJs who filled out the questionnaire were 35 or under, and less than 2% were under 26. This is borne out by the DJs that I see at association meet-ups, BPM | PRO, and the Pro Mobile Conference; there are some DJs out there in their 20s and 30s, but most are 40 plus.
While many of the older DJs who I have interviewed – or who have been featured in the Profile section of the magazine – started out as teenagers, it seems that far fewer people of my generation, and younger, have become mobile DJs. So, does this mean that mobile DJs are a dying breed. With no ‘young blood’ coming through, will mobile DJs age collectively until the point of extinction?
Well, perhaps not. We must take into account the dance music boom of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. While in the ‘60s and ‘70s the natural progression for anyone with a passion for music and an interest in technology was to become a mobile DJ, recently a more popular path has been to become a bedroom DJ/producer, with the most successful then going on to become nightclub DJs.
But we’re now beginning to see a trend of successful club DJs switching to mobile work as they get older. Two prominent examples, coming from different types of club DJing backgrounds, are Pat Mulligan and Mark van den Berg. As he wrote in the last issue of the magazine, Pat had a successful career working in commercial clubs, for the likes of Luminar Leisure, before transitioning to mobile work for better pay. Meanwhile, Mark – as part of the Luv Dup Twins DJ duo – was an in-demand house DJ playing guest spots at clubs worldwide before setting up his mobile entertainment company as an opportunity to continue his passion for DJing but in a way that fits better with family life.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 82, Pages 40-41.