Memorial Day marks the official start of the season of outdoor barbecues and pool parties. To keep the crowds at all of your sunny summer get-togethers happy, we asked pro DJ Michelle Pesce
(who has worked for the likes of Vogue, GQ, Sundance Film Festival, Chanel, H&M, and more) to share her dos and dont's for creating a top-notch party playlist. Plus, she's also created an exclusive summer Spotify playlist just for us -- read her tips and find the playlist below!
Don't create a playlist with just yourself in mind. Think about your guest list and the music that most people will respond to. Use that as the base and then push the limits a bit with some of your favorite off-the-beaten-path tunes!
Do not use shuffle on your iPod for your party! You need to take your guests on a journey. From arriving and catching up (a bit more mellow), to cocktail #3 when the party is full, and then onto full-blown dancing. Your music choices will be your best friend and set the tone throughout the night!
Don't be scared to change genres and eras. Just try to do it in a smart way. You wouldn't go from The Beatles to Britney Spears but you can go from The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel to Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson to Pharrell to Justin Timberlake to Britney. Don't rush it!
Think about your physical surroundings. Are you starting outside during sunset? Switching rooms? Go for a little energy when people arrive or have cocktails, then move to more chill, background tunes during dinner, and then bring the energy up again after dinner. You might want different types of music to transition through the evening, and some music is better with a sunset (like uptempo, moody lounge) than two hours after sunset. Visualize how the party will flow.
You might think that you'll never be able to pick enough songs to take your party from beginning to end. Trust me, once you pull songs you will most likely have a hard time cutting it down to just a few hours.
Use shorter versions of songs. Unless you have a DJ's mix, the whole song will play, and they can get long! It's good to get a taste of a song and not get burnt out on it, so cut out songs longer than six minutes.
That being said, parties definitely go over often. You want to be prepared and not have to just start from the beginning. Make sure to have enough music organized to cover the planned length of the event . . . and then some.
This leads me to often set up more than one playlist. Make a "party" playlist and then an "after-hours" playlist to bring the energy down but offer fun music for those hanging 'til the bitter end. Or, you can even make a "beginning" playlist, a "dance" playlist, and "late night" playlist. You'll know when you're ready to get to the next one.
Don't be scared of remixes. It's hard to find remixes on sites like Spotify so I didn't use many in my Ultimate Summer Playlist for Domaine (play it below!), but by searching for your favorite songs, it's easy to find ones you love on the Internet. Mix it up!
Don't be scared to hire a DJ. I know some budgets don't allow to have one at your party, but DJs can even curate a playlist on an iPod, doing the above work for you in advance so that you can just sit back and enjoy!
Want to find more playlists like this? Head to Michelle's Spotify profile
for more tunes!
Photographs: Robert Walley