B2B Games To Play With Your DJ Friends

Ever been in a social setting with a number of DJs who all want to hang out, but everyone brought their USB drives / laptops / vinyl wanting to play a few tracks? A group back to back session is in order! Instead of simply handing over the headphones between every track, here are a few great ways to make tag team mixing in a social setting fun and fair. Have your own B2B games? Share in the comments!

When To B2B?

A group of DJs hanging out together near a set of open DJ decks can feel a bit competitive. Everyone wants a few minutes behind the decks to show off their new tracks and have a friendly bit of one-upmanship. But beyond just two or three DJs, I’ve found it’s fun and helpful to have a few “house rules” and games to play together – giving everyone a chance behind the decks.

Basic B2B House Rules: Twos

It’s important to have some very basic rules set up before you start any B2B set. For many of the groups I’ve DJed with socially, the goals are simple:

  • allow every DJ time behind the decks
  • each DJ should get a chance to have a planned mix (between two songs of their choosing)
  • no DJ should spend too long behind the decks at one time

In groups of 3+ DJs, I recommend mixing “in Twos” – meaning that each DJ mixes two tracks before they hand off the headphones to the next DJ. This gives them a chance to mix into an unfamiliar track, as well as mixing in a second song of their choosing. Don’t expect to tell a story with your song choices here, it’s more of a conversation with the other DJs and a chance to show off some gems from your collection.

Avoid setting a strict time limit on time for each mix – but it’s generally considered a faux pas in this style of group DJ session to mix in a ten minute track and let it run all the way out before playing your second track. Take your time, but remember that your friends want to play too.

“Response” Tracks

Occasionally in a group DJ setting, someone might play a track that you have the perfect “reply” for. I like to encourage any DJ in the situation to very sparingly call for a “response”, allowing them to cut in and immediately mix in a track that responds to the one playing. Examples might include:

  • alternate remixes of the same track
  • songs that have good word play together or that reference each other
  • origin tracks from samples – e.g. if a DJ plays Next Episode, you could cleverly respond with the original David McCallum:

Mix-Off Drink-Off

For more critical or competitive DJs, it’s nice to challenge one another to take risks and push the envelope. A few years ago at DJTT, we invented a happy hour-friendly DJ game that did exactly this.

  • Each DJ has their own setup and are plugged into a master mixer (we would often have multiple laptops, controllers, vinyl, and other decks)
  • DJs would play in Twos (as discussed above)
  • Any time someone got caught failing to beat match, mismatching their phrasing, or generally flubbing a mix, the others in the group call it out with a friendly shout of “Drink!” – encouraging the perpetrator to self acknowledge their mistake and (if they want) have a sip of beer as punishment.

You don’t actually have to drink if you’re not into booze – but it makes for a fun way to have a few drinks with your DJ friends, and keep it light-hearted. identifying screw ups in a fun matter is way better than being smug about it.

Update: after posting this article on Reddit’s /r/DJs, a commenter suggested a good variation of this game:

Track Roulette

To really keep mixing a unique challenge, Track Roulette is a great game to play. The rules are simple: instead of choosing your own next track, someone else does, randomly!

  • Filter your track collection/library so that you’ll have a long list of compatible songs – I recommend filtering by compatible key or tempo
  • Slowly scroll through the filtered collection
  • Have a fellow DJ call out “stop!” – and immediately stop scrolling and load the track that you landed on
  • Have fun mixing in a track that’s compatible but perhaps vastly different from what you would have chosen to mix in
  • Repeat in a round robin fashion for every DJ in the group

Around The World in 80 BPM

Back in 2013, Ean did a great tutorial on various ways to change tempo in a DJ set. One of the techniques actually works really well as a B2B DJ game: going around the BPM circle. Here’s how it works:

  • start out at a certain tempo
  • then each time a DJ mixes in, have them increase the BPM
  • I’ve found a 3-5 BPM increase per track works well
  • When you start getting higher in BPM (140+), start looking for songs that are half the tempo (140 > 70, 150 > 85) and mix them in to go “around the world”. Keep going until you reach the BPM you started on.
  • Once you’re finished, consider going backwards! Continually slowing down the overall tempo is more of a challenge, but it’s rewarding and good to practice.

What DJ games do you play with a group? Let us know how you have fun with other DJs in the comments below – and any clever ways you’ve come up with to share the decks.