During the sets, I try to put a laptop next to the decks when possible. But it’s not there to run a DJ program like many people think whether it’s Traktor or Rekordbox or something, but for a clock. A big and bold clock on a dark screen that shows the current time:
For me, the clock is a kind of anchor to reality, a reference point in time-and-space, which helps me to better plan the tracks during a set.
I don’t pre-plan my sets in advance, but once I get in the DJ booth I kind of understand how I’m going to build a set: which track I’m going to put next, what vibe I want to come to in half an hour and on which note I want to finish my performance.
With standard shorter sets, it’s relatively easy. You just play a dozen tracks and it gives you an indicator that half of the set has already passed. Although, I still worry ‘Do I have time to drop that awesome tracks before my set time ends?’. But playing 5-6-hour open-to-close sets without clocks seems impossible to me at all.
Of course, there’s a clock on the phone, but I don’t like the idea of staring at the phone during a set. It doesn’t seem to be very respectful of people on the dance floor, as if I was checking my email or social media there. Wristwatches do not fit either, because you need to twist the wrist, which is almost always busy on the deck or mixer, and on the small screen is not so clear. The big screen of the notebook on the side but in a constant field of view is ideal in this regard.
Also, the clock helps to finish the set on time. I’ve never had a problem with it, but I know a lot of times when the next DJ comes for a switch-over and the other DJ says, “YEAH SURE! JUST ONE MORE TRACK!”. And then there’s more. In the end, the next DJ starts ten minutes later and gets nervous, the timeline of the event shifts and it’s not good. Sometimes there is the promoter or a special stage manager who watches over strict timings, but I think that’s the DJ’s area of responsibility to respect the timing.
Anyway, DJs, please watch the clock.