Tips on DJing in Dubai

How to get behind the decks at Dubai's best clubs. We find out the way to do it from those who have. Take notes.

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The most important thing, says Charl, is to be persistent. ‘You need to be able to learn from your mistakes and give every project 100 per cent. You need to be passionate and always have a positive attitude. Look for opportunities and don’t be scared to take on new roles, your biggest hurdle is only yourself. Overall find something you’re interested in – it is much easier to be good at something you enjoy.’ And the best piece of advice Charl has been given: ‘It was by an author of a book called Mind Power by Dr John Kehoe: “Just trust, roll and flow” as in trust life, roll with the punches and just let things be – it always works out.’ And so far that’s involved being asked for his signature – ‘which is just crazy,’ laughs Charl – having people recognise him on the street and, should his American visa have come through in time, a debut spin at the all conquering Miami Music Conference this year.

But nods Charl, being based in Dubai is a huge advantage for prospective DJs. ‘Dubai is a new city compared to the rest of the world so when you accomplish something, it’s easy to stand out. There are loads of opportunities around, so the chance of doing something great and doing it well is good, so it’s a lot easier to stand out from the rest. Again it’s easy being a big fish in a small pond over here – as long as you work hard at it!’

Need to know

Networking: ‘First and foremost hang out at the clubs you want to play at. Make friends with the resident DJs, managers, promoters, bar staff, doormen etc. Become a regular face. Getting gigs is all about networking.’ Promo CDs: ‘Send your mixes to everybody you know. DJs, promoters, friends and family, and get some honest feedback. Make a nice professional package and make sure the mix is good. The mix represents you, so don’t just throw together 10 tracks and scribble your name on the cover – that’s not going to cut it. Take some time on your mix, plan it and do some artwork. At the end of the day you are trying to sell yourself so you need to stand out from the rest. Also, send your mixes to, the city’s first online radio station to help raise your profile.’ Produce your own music:

‘These days just being a DJ is not good enough. If you have some good production under your belt, you will get DJ sets because of that.’ Redbull Music Academy: ‘A yearly event, this is the perfect opportunity to enter the Redbull Music Academy for two weeks and meet like-minded individuals from around the world. You can attend seminars and workshops with DJs and producers who’ve been there and done it. See’ Infusion Magazine: ‘Send you mixes to and we will review it in our magazine and website. We are in the process of starting a local showcase and competition for new DJs and the best mix will possibly be played on our Radio Show, Rhythm Factory. Also, if you’re a burgeoning bedroom DJ, get in touch with, Time Out’s nightlife guru. who might well add you to his bedroom DJs feature.’ DIY: ‘Lastly I would say, do your own party. Get a venue and gather all your friends around and host a party. This will give you the best experience. You will learn how to work with people, equipment, mix, make new contacts and, who knows, maybe even start a monthly night, which can lead to you mixing in a club. Don’t expect everything to be handed to you on plate, but put the hard work in and doors will open.’

DJ tips

1. ‘Music selection is the most important thing by far.

2. You need to have a passion for your music: love it.

3. Spontaneity is also very important and being able to create an atmosphere by playing the right tune at the right time.

4. Individuality and creativity are also big factors.

5. Yes, technical skills are very important, but if you’re playing rubbish music, what’s the point? I think if you’re passionate that can translate into technical skills.’

Charl is DJing at the Time Out Comes Home festival at Chi.

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