The opening set

Ah the opening set. If you are not a DJ and reading this article, let me tell you this is a sensitive subject. Disappointed DJ’s, wrongfully played music, late arrivals, the list goes on.

But with all the drama it holds, the opening set is the most important, and let me explain why.

First impressions. It might sound like a silly analogy, but in essence your opening DJ is your greeter, the mood setter, the person who gives the waited patrons the confidence it’s going to be a good evening.

Sure the DJ starts his first track to an empty floor, but lets look at it from the club goers experience.


Magda (Minus Records): “The opening DJ has a huge responsibility; they can dictate the entire mood of the party,” 


One is generally relaxed at this time of the day or evening, some social exchanges and a few warm up drinks, if that is your kind of thing, essentially getting into the groove of what is coming ahead. Logically a warm up set is required, calm grooving sounds building up to the next DJ.

Seems quite simple right? Well it should be, but unfortunately not entirely true. There are a large amount of DJ’s that think the opposite and choose to select their big hitters in this situation.

This causes a few problems.

  1. The mood is heightened from the get go, and leaves little or no chance of progression, which leaves the following DJ’s pressured to play their own heavy hitters.
  2. The patrons don’t have much to look forward to once the opening DJ is done, and in turn become extremely hard to please as the night goes on.
  3. In this day and age where music is extremely assessable many DJ’s have. similar records, and if you are not playing the right music for your time slot, there is bound to be many repeats.

This list has the potential to be endless, but I do not want to to bore you with the nitty gritties.


Lee Burridge (All day I dream): “I’ve sometimes had to kill the music altogether to reset the energy.”


In closing, a message to the opening DJ’s:

This might be early in your career and I’m sure you want to impress, but this is not the time to play your imagined festival main set. There is a time and a place for every song in your inventory. Be professional and play your part in aiding to the collective experience.


Steve Lawler (Viva Music): “The warm-up’s job is in fact the hardest and very important to how the whole night will turn out. If a warm-up does a good job, you can feel it in the air, and then usually 99% of the time, it’s an amazing night.” 


Another important mention is to be conscious of your BPM. In the general sense a good tempo for the opening set can range from 110 – 120bpm. Starting off the evening at 128bpm destroys the energy and leaves little for the following permformers to adhere to.


Anthony Papa: “Warming up is the most important role of the night; But I reckon clubs should have speed limits! No going over 125 bpm before midnight. If you do, you’re off, and we’ll suspend your pay for two weeks.”


The beauty of the opening set is that you’re essentially dictating the forthcomings of the evening, remembering that the night is not about yourself. It is a chance to also explore and play outside of your comfort zone, creating the perfect atmosphere for an incredible evening.