Look, I’m not trying to show off or anything, but I was the DJ at the school disco. Did they ask Carl Cox? No. Was Tiesto in the running? He wasn’t. Did someone from the PTA contact Fatboy Slim about appearing? They did not. I took on the challenge instead and, if I’m being honest, I think I did the aforementioned superstars all a favour.
Yes, those fellas might be used to spinning tunes to cavernous rooms packed with thousands of sweaty revellers, but have any of them had to constantly take time out from the wheels of steel to bat away 52,000 requests for Baby Shark? I think we all know the answer to that one.
How I Became the DJ at the School Disco
My daughter started primary school in September and in the first couple of weeks, as a keen parent and looking for excuses to do anything other than work, I was trawling through the barrage of correspondence in my ParentMail account. Amongst the information about cake sales, school trips and school trips to cake sales, I spotted a plaintive request. The PTA wanted to hold a disco, but had no one to blast out the tunes.
I’ve worked in radio most of my adult life and, hoping to make a good impression with school early on, I confidently stated that I could find someone suitable for them. Hooray, I was the saviour of the disco! Not to be confused with the Saviour of Disco, which is Nile Rodgers I believe.
There was just one problem. None of my local radio chums who mobile discoed on the side could do that date. This was a disaster. I’d raised the school’s hopes only to dash them. My daughter would be a pariah. Perhaps this would affect her grades. Maybe they’d force her to be pencil monitor for the rest of eternity.
There was only one thing for it – I’d have to do it myself.
Preparing the Playlist for the School Disco
There was a further problem. I had no idea what music appeals to any child other than my five-year-old daughter. I asked her what she wanted to hear and she informed me that she would rather like Little Mix’s Shout ‘Out to My Ex’ on a loop for an hour-and-a-half. At least it was something.
I contacted friends of similarly aged children and busily started acquiring tunes by Zara Larsson, Sigala and Dua Lipa. I’m surprised I didn’t receive a concerned call from Apple Music enquiring as to whether my phone had been stolen by a young girl, but perhaps they thought my sudden shift from miserable indie to bubblegum pop was part of a midlife crisis that they were best leaving well alone.
In addition, my Google search history now contains more hits for ‘school disco’ than is entirely appropriate for a man about to turn 40. But I’m yet to be raided by the police, so I think I got away with it.
The Night of the School Disco
The school disco was split into two parts. The early session for Key Stage 1 kids and the later one for Key Stage 2. In the middle of each disco, the children went off to the next room to mainline as much sugar into their systems as is humanly possible. This brought the inevitable results.
If they knew what I now know, nightclubs might want to tweak their door policy. Yes, they want to keep Class A drugs out of their establishments, but they should also look to turn away anyone who rocks up with five packets of Haribo and a couple of Sherbet Dip Dabs. Both sessions had been going swimmingly up until that point, after which the dancefloor became what can only be described as a whirlpool of kids, pegging it around in circles as fast as they could, foaming at the mouth and screaming like banshees as the E numbers coursed through their veins.
It was really good fun. I genuinely loved every minute. Particularly the bit where I got to do my stern dad voice to tell the older ones to calm down. How often do you get to tell off 50 children at once?
Best School Disco Songs
If you find yourself in the same position soon – Djing at a school disco because you opened your big mouth to make a promise you couldn’t fulfil (niche, I know) – here are the songs that worked for me:
Obviously, you can’t go wrong with Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and, to an extent, One Direction. However, the latter are now a little old hat it seems, thus is the fickle nature of pop. Surprisingly, George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun’ was MASSIVE. Potentially the best non-novelty song reaction of the night. It is also a safe bet to play anything from The Greatest Showman, and the added bonus is that they are all quite long, so you can nip out for a wee during them. Pro tip for you there.
But I can’t ignore the inevitable. The elephant in the room, or rather the big fish in the sea – Baby Shark. I knew my daughter was an admirer of the irritating anthem, but I thought the older children might balk at it. I was wrong. I asked them whether they wanted to hear it and it elicited the biggest shriek of the pre-sweet-imbibing night.
Such was the positive reaction that I undid all my good work from saving the disco (I might be building that part up a little) by – I can hardly bring myself to write this – playing it twice in a row.
I’ve never seen emotions swing so quickly. The children were suddenly delirious with joy. The adult helpers from the PTA were, as you can imagine, not.
I will not be invited back.