I’ve always found this to be an odd one… in the middle of a DJ’d set, the track ends… and half the room breaks into spontaneous applause. I mean – this isn’t a live band, it isn’t a performance – it’s a bunch of folks dancing to recorded music, and after a track, they applaud, seemingly as if it were an actual live band.
This isn’t normal behaviour, surely? Don’t get me wrong – I love it when it happens, and it doesn’t exactly happen all the time, but it happens to me often enough that I find myself wondering about it.
A few suggestions people have had – maybe if the track has some recorded applause at the end, it could cause people to applaud by reflex. I think there can be an element of this, but… I don’t have all that many tracks like that (I usually edit the applause out, in any case) – and it generally happens on other ones. Anyway – I’ve been one of those applauding dancers on more than one occasion, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.
Another factor – am I playing after a live band? Is there an element of conditioning in play – people have become used to applauding Certainly, I’m more likely to observe it in that case – but it happens at other times also – and if I’m being truly cynical, I’ve seen the opposite happen – where people forgot they were dancing to a live band, and didn’t bother with the post-track applause (a few times, I’ve found myself being the one who starts the applause. Belatedly. While feeling a bit guilty for having forgotten myself that there were real people playing that music…)
So for the obvious question – are they applauding the DJ who played that great track? Huge NO. Seriously. That would be plain silly – and anyway – to most dancers, the DJ doesn’t exist (except when pointed out between sets, or when something goes wrong)
So what is it? I can only put it down to the dancers getting carried away in the moment – they’ve just had a great dance, a special experience, and that spontaneous applause is an acknowledgement, a release – a celebration of that moment. It’s not a reaction to one song, either – it’s a reaction to the atmosphere that’s built up, the energy of the room, and the mood that’s been created on the dancefloor.
As a DJ – when that happens several times in a set – no, it’s not directed at me at all – it certainly means I’m doing something very very right. And damn – it feels good.