My own record collection soon started to grow and the kids down the street would enjoy coming over to my house and having a boogie in my bedroom to Wham and Duran Duran (that’s if they weren’t on flashing light duty!). Eventually though Father Christmas brought me a Pulsar lighting unit which had three proper flashing (including sound to light) coloured bulbs in a box, now I had an awesome light show!
After a couple of years of generally enjoying music and dreaming of becoming a DJ, I took it upon myself to call a local DJ running a mobile disco to ask if I could come along to his gigs and watch him. He agreed and so for the next couple of years, between the ages of 14 and 16, I worked as his roadie. The job was unpaid, but the experience I picked up second to none......
At 15 years old I got a part time job after school in a butcher’s shop, scrubbing the block and mopping the floor. This was a great little earner. I saved my money and, as soon as I turned 16, I bought myself a moped! This was great; a cool method of transport for a 16 year old, when my mates were walking or catching the bus.
One day, whilst traveling home from the butcher’s shop with a carrier bag full of meat on the handle bars, a motorist decided she wasn’t going to stop at a junction and bang there I was out cold on the floor, she’d knocked me off my moped. What made the accident look worse, however, was the raw meat that had spilled all over road which the bypassing people thought was my guts!
What has this got to do with my DJing you may well be asking yourself, well, it was the compensation from my accident that allowed my DJ career to really get started. I received around £4,000, which I used to buy a car, a proper set of twin turntables, a couple of big speakers, a rope light and a couple of flashing light boxes. The kit replaced my gramophones in my bedroom, which the neighbours were very pleased about!
I now had all of the gear, but nowhere to use it outside of my bedroom, however an opportunity soon presented itself. It was a Saturday morning and I received a phone call from the DJ who I was working for as a roadie. He said he needed me to cover a gig for him on that very night (talk about being thrown in at the deep end). I had the gear and a car to transport it, so I really had no excuse to decline a DJ in need, especially one who had taught me so much.
I did the usual birthday parties and other celebrations, while also taking on a number of residency stints at pubs and clubs along the journey. I even had my ‘five minutes of fame’ working on the radio!
At the start of the new millennium, I started working at a butcher’s shop in Preston. It was a big outfit and took over my life due to long working hours. My DJing stopped completely and I didn’t even have time to do any of the other things that I enjoy. It was work, work, work; 5:30am ‘til 6:00pm 6 days a week!
In February of 2003, during a much-needed week off work, I thought to myself “there’s got to be more to life than working like this, but what else can I do?”
I came up with a solution that meant I could spend more time at home and still earn a living... Taxi driver; yep I became a cabbie! Not very glamorous, but the flexibility was awesome. So I worked my noticed at the butcher’s during which time I also passed my taxi test. My working hours were incredibly flexible; I could work at any time in the 24 hour day, 7 days week. I saw plenty of my children and attended school events which I’d not been able to do before. Due to my flexibility, I also began to get other work offers; mainly from butchers who wanted a couple of days cover here and there without any commitment.
In 2004 a friend of mine opened a nightclub and asked if I wanted the DJ’s job on a Friday and Saturday. I told him I’d been out of industry for a few years and didn’t keep up with the latest music, but he assured me that it was mainly a 70s and 80s venue. So I accepted the job and was back on the DJing scene. The club was fab, rammed every week with an older crowd and I was playing tunes I love.
I had a great couple of years at that venue, but then the licensing laws changed and 24 hour drinking was introduced. This meant that town centre clubs were closing as late as 6am, which wasn’t for me. I was happy to finish at 2am, but didn’t want to be getting in as the kids were waking up in the morning!
I’d been bitten by the DJing bug again, so decided to go back on the road as a mobile DJ. This time I wanted to do things properly, so decided to specialise and concen- trate solely on weddings. I purchased some decent gear and did loads of research on the wedding DJ industry; I read books, scoured the internet, and met with other experienced fulltime DJs. I joined a couple of forums and met some inspirational people; Richard Mills from New Zealand was my biggest inspiration, I learnt loads from him.
To start with, the taxi driving was really handy as I was still earning a wage whilst building up my DJ business. If I had a gig on a Saturday, I’d do it, if I didn’t, I’d jump in the taxi and still earn a wage. However, my business as a wedding DJ grew and grew and I started getting more and more work. Eventually I reached the point where I wasn’t finding the time to drive my taxi so I gave it up completely........
I’m keen on education and sharing ideas with my peers to keep my performances fresh. I’ve completed Master of Ceremonies training courses, attended the ProMobile Conference, and done several other presenting related workshops and courses. I love hosting weddings and generally being on stage. My favourite tool of the trade is definitely my microphone. My ambition is to be the next Dermont O’Leary, hosting TV shows, but if I’m honest I don’t think it’ll happen, so I’ll crack on hosting weddings...
Sunday 9th and Monday 10th took me to Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire to attend the Promobile conference 2014. The Pro Mobile Conference was a unique opportunity for me to focus on my passion: DJing and Hosting weddings. Combining information packed keynote seminars, enlightening panel discussions and interactive group sessions, the Conference inspired. Much more than that, it provided an environment for new ideas to form, plans to be honed and new contacts to be made through focused networking.
The lead keynote speaker was Randy Bartlett:
One of the USA’s most recognised and sought-after speakers for the Wedding DJ profession, Randy Bartlett has presented his funny and educational seminars and workshops to standing room only crowds at conferences and DJ gatherings across the country. He’s the producer of the acclaimed 1% Solution series of seminars and DVDs, and is a member of the Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild™ and the ADJA. Since 1988, Randy has been the owner of Premier Entertainment in Sacramento, California. A full time entertainer, specialising in weddings, his referral based business has his clients paying him substantially above the rate of average DJs in his market. Prior to his career as a mobile DJ, he spent 15 years in sales, with 10 years in sales management and sales training. It was Randy's first time in the UK at the 2014 Pro Mobile Conference presenting the keynote seminar. It was a huge honour to have dinner with Randy and his wife Denise on Monday evening, the night before I stepped into the class room to partake and be critiqued in his workshop, The 1% solution.
Steve Mitchell, full time professional, wedding DJ & Host, Dad and Husband.