Thank you for soliciting the opinion of salsa patrons on the issue of out-of-town DJs. As you can judge from the responses to the survey, we just want to listen and dance to good salsa music. So, what is "good salsa"? That depends on the population at each event, and the DJ that seeks to be effective must respond to them. That is, to be successful, the DJ must be committed to serving the population that attends the event. This very concept of serving the public is heresy to the DJs that enjoy celebrity status, but it's a necessary reminder to DJs who feel entitled to all the paying gigs on their home turf. So, for those DJs who may be curious, or just plain would like to consider taking their game up a notch, here are a few pointers from a paying customer:
1) Diversify your salsa selections with respect to tempo (150-200 beats per minute is danceable, under 150 are great mood enhancers, too many over 200 can lead to heart attacks), artists (Juan Luis Guerra sings salsa too), time period (20th and 21st century recordings are preferred, the prehistoric recordings of one singer and a cowbell are best reserved for exorcisms and acts of terrorism), category (salsa dura, old school salsa, salsa romantica, salsa erotica, jazz-infused salsa are all categories, salsa obscura is not) and mood.
2) If the equipment breaks, fix it! Yes, bend over a speaker and attach the wire. A DJ that is unwilling to fix the equipment during a mishap is unwilling to serve the public, or worst yet, lacks the expertise to fetch the fee they get paid. Don't leave us clustered around the last remaining speaker trying to rescue the mood.
3) File the hip hop next to the hokey-pokey and play it at bar mitzvahs and weddings.
4) When the out-of-town Darth Vader of DJs is playing, go listen. Yes! Pay the cover, buy a drink, watch, listen and learn. Capture the secret of their success and harness it for your own benefit.
And one last tip for promoters: When you hire a DJ, demand performance. Have a discussion prior to the event and emphasize that you seek to cater to the paying public and not stage a hostage crisis. Assess their willingness to serve the public that you are trying to capture. A DJ's poor disposition can significantly erode the climate that you depend on for a successful event. And, if you want to give a new, up-and-coming DJ an opportunity, ask them for a mix CD and interview them. Any clown with a CD collection is not a DJ, that's a wannabe.
Thanks again for asking us what we think via your survey.