Words by Annie-Mei Forster.
There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to throwing a fantastic house party, especially if it’s going to be the first time you organise one. Think of all the house parties you’ve been to and why some stood out over others.
Was it the people? The music? The booze? The outdoor bonfire? The dog? It’s probably a combination of many things. Although we can’t help you with the guest list, we can help with hiring the right band or DJ. Here’s our guide to planning your ultimate house party.
What kind of event is it?
If you’re planning a party for someone else (a buck or a hen do), then it’s sensible to speak to the guest of honour. You don’t want to hire a smooth jazz duo if your friend was planning on letting their hair down. If it’s your party and you’re celebrating a birthday, then you have more leeway to choose music that suits your taste.
Having said that, if you’re turning 21 and everyone you know listens to electronic dance music (EDM), but you’re into country-folk music, then maybe you should pick a genre that satisfies both tastes. You want people to remember your party for the right reasons.
Is a band or DJ the better choice?
The decision comes down to personal choice and space. Is your house big enough to have a band? Let’s say you live in a small townhouse, a four-person group will take up half the living room and the noise is going to get you several noise complaints. Maybe it’s not the best idea! No one likes awkwardly bopping along to a band when there’s more room for them than there is for the guests!
What kind of budget do you have?
Be realistic. If you haven’t got a huge budget, then you’re probably not going to get Billie Eilish to play at your gig. DJs are typically cheaper than a band but if you’re unsure, speak to someone who has hired a band or DJ for an event and get a rough cost.
If you don’t know anyone who’s hired a band or DJ, then look online. However, they may not advertise costs on their website unless they often play at events. Send out a bunch of emails and see what numbers they come back with.
How do you know if they’re any good?
This question is tough because even if you’ve heard some of their music, it doesn’t necessarily mean they play well live. The safest bet is always word of mouth. Talk to family and friends and see if they know anyone who has seen them play. The band or DJ might have an upcoming gig soon that you could head along to and assess for yourself if they’re any good.
Check out the artist’s social media pages to see if they have a loyal fan base or are well-known in your local area. Look them up on Spotify or iTunes and see how many regular listeners they have. You could also check out Muso, as the app provides an overall star rating based on past performances, along with videos of previous live shows.
Meet the artist in person
Meet the band or DJ in person before making any decisions. You’re letting them into your house, so you want to make sure they’re not a psychopath! Meeting the whole band might be difficult, so if you can see at least one or two members that still gives you a good idea.
A quick chat over the phone is good, but you get a better feel for a person or group if you meet them in person and remember to plan some questions.
Questions you could ask include:
Not only does their answer help you find out how much experience they have, but it also gives you an idea of how much you should pay them. You don’t need to fork out big bucks if they’ve only played two free gigs down at the local pub!
It’s good to know this now to avoid disappointment later. Some DJs are unwilling to play more mainstream songs, especially if they consider themselves a deep-house artist. However, you are the one paying them so you should get a say too. You want to set the ground rules before the DJ becomes annoyed because drunk people are hounding him all night to play some Justin Bieber. Bands are probably happy to take requests if they know the song.
The answer to this is important because if they have strobe lights and a decent sound system, all you need to worry about is where they want to set it up. If it’s a band playing at your house party, they might need a bit of time to prepare their gear and complete a soundcheck, so this might determine what time the party is going to kick off.
Hopefully, these tips make it a bit easier for you the next time you want to throw a house party. Remember, it’s your party, so you want it to be as pain-free as possible. Once you choose the right band or DJ, you can then start planning for the rest of the party.