An experienced ‘normal’ DJ / Disco should be flexible and able to set-up in almost any realistic space provided. So if you hire DJ equipment it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Most Disco shows consist of 3 elements.
The first is his ‘decks’ (this is however the DJ intends to play his music) and is often CD players or a laptop or similar. Most Professional DJ’s will turn up with their own stand(s) for mounting the decks on, or the decks can be put on a table borrowed from the venue.
The second element to most Disco show’s is the Lighting and effects and this will usually go overhead and is normally put on T-Bars, these are bars (with fixings for the lights) mounted on top of tripod stands (you’ll often see one each side of the decks). An alternative to T-Bar stands is a Goal Post, this is effectively a stand each side with a cross member which joins the stands above the decks, again with lights and effects mounted on it.
The third element is Speakers, these can be floor mounted or put on stands and these will typically go outside and either side of the light-show.
There are of course limitations to what a DJ can fit into any given space, but a little information, either given to the Dj or gained by the DJ in advance can be very valuable information indeed.
This information can either be about the limited space available to set-up in for the DJ if space is limited, or about the space expected to be filled if the area for set-up is larger or in a larger venue.
As far as the size and shape of a set-up, a DJ should wherever possible, always be flexible. A good DJ should be able to set-up almost anywhere within reason, and be able to create a sound and light-show in almost any size or shape of venue from the largest of Conference Halls, to the smallest of Living Rooms!… sometimes as a DJ, if you’re given a late notice booking (or even after having done the relevant homework in advance), you just don’t know what type of venue you’re turning up to, or indeed you are told (and are expecting) something different to the actual area for set-up you’re shown!
To get the best out of any DJ, you’ll need to give him a little room. Every DJ’s preferred set-up dimensions of course vary, but an ideal minimum amount of space is typically around 6ft / 2m depth (front to back), and around 10ft 3m width (side to side). This allows the Dj to stand behind the decks facing out to the crowd and have room to set up and use a sound and light-show to either side.
The more room you give a DJ, the more room he’ll usually use. Most set-ups can usually be spread-out to fill a larger space if you have a ‘larger than normal’ area for us to fill. Equally, the same kit can also be condensed-down into a smaller space if need be.
In some cases, the best use of space can be obtained if the kit is set-up in the corner rather than as is more typical, across the length of one wall. Corner set-ups will utilize a corner of the room and come across at around a 30 or 45degree angle. In this case most Dj’s will ask for a minimum ideal corner giving around 12-13ft / 4m of frontage, and extending out around 9ft / 3m along each wall from the corner of the room.
If the space you intend for a DJ to set-up in is less than these minimum guidelines then chances are he’d like to know about this in advance.
If the venue is tiny, a tried and tested method of making the Disco as small as it can be is to set the decks up so the decks (and DJ) are facing the wall rather than the crowd.
This means a DJ can sometimes get away with a space as small as about 6 to 9ft / 2 to 3m long by 2 to 3ft / less than a meter from the wall out!
Please also bear in mind that if you’re hiring a dance-floor then your DJ will need to set up off of and behind this. Ask the people putting in your dance-floor to leave room between the wall and dance-floor for the DJ to set-up in.
One final thing to remember is headroom. A ‘normal’ set-up will require around 7ft / 2m of headroom (and sometimes more), for the kit to go up on stands. This is worth considering if there are any limitations to headroom at all or if set-up is to take place in a room (especially something like a a marquee) which has a sloping roof.