Wedding receptions include many rituals and traditions, but they most often include a meal, music, and dancing. Los Cabos destination weddings are no exception to this general pattern.
In times past, the traditional wedding dances that were performed had cultural or spiritual significance to the couple. Weddings nowadays include more of a “freestyle’ dancing experience, although the newlyweds first dance and parent dances are still important. Choreographed wedding dances, done by the bride, groom and/or members of the wedding party have risen in popularity the last few years.
The use of a live band or artist-performed music, as well as DJ services are common in Cabo. Our wedding expert and Managing Partner, Arianna Ocampo, talked to a local expert wedding DJ, Alejandro Alanis, (Alex) about the best practices for couples planning this part of their big day.
Arianna: How long have you been a DJ in Cabo?
Alex: I started my career as a DJ in 2003-2002 so I have been a DJ for about 17 years.
Arianna: And you started here in Cabo?
Alex: I started in Cabo, yes. My background is as a nightclub DJ, I worked in most of the best nightclubs in Cabo. I had a soft beginning in the 90’s but I was young and then I went back to being a fulltime DJ since 2003. And I have been a fulltime DJ ever since.
Arianna: How many weddings do you do each year, considering that you have other DJ’s that collaborate with you?
Alex: Well, the wedding season has grown to 9 months now, so we are pretty busy almost every weekend. It is hard to say a number, but we have close to 150 or so every year depending. They are not always weddings, some of them are like corporate events and birthday parties or celebrations during the week. We like to be careful with weddings and pay special attention to them, so we like to keep the weekly number relatively low.
Arianna: How would you describe your style?
Alex: My style is…I play everything ! As a team, we are DJ’s that love what we do, we are music lovers, but we also love to entertain people. So the way I describe myself is I always like to do my job, I always like to study my clients, make sure and know what kind of vibe they want, and then perform the best way possible. So, my style is that…it is just that I am really careful with music, and I always like to personalize every singe wedding, for me it is very important to get to know my client and know exactly what they want.
Arianna: What do you think sets you apart from your competition?
Alex: Well…a lot of us just have state of the art equipment, a lot of us show up early, a lot of us show up with a uniform and well dressed. One thing that I think that sets me and our company apart is our experience with music and basically the joy we have to do what we love. We don’t use this as a business. We started because it is my passion, I am a music lover and so are my guys, and we love music but not just that, we have the joy and love the art of making sure that everybody is happy. So, we always like to make sure to read the crowd well and make sure that we have a really good connection with the crowd. And that has worked very well, and I believe that can set us apart from our competitors. We are just very particular with music, we pick carefully what we play, how we play it and when we play it. And I think that works really well for us.
Arianna: Have you partnered with a band or with another person? I mean do you work with more on your team?
Alex: Yes, I have 3 DJ’s working with me, they are fully bilingual, and they are really amazing people that have all the knowledge and have all the passion and creativity that a DJ can have. And they perform just as well. Each of them can have a little different style but at the end we can do it all. We perform for people who that like electronic music, we perform for people who like country music, rock, reggae, ect, ect. And we always get the job done so we fully capable of getting in any style and situation. We have teamed up with Cabo Strings Violinists, for example, also saxophone players, and have worked in conjunction with bands. We are very versatile and like to change it up!
Arianna: Do you use any lighting or any other special effects or elements that complement your services?
Alex: Yes, that is correct. We have different packages for different venues well we also like to personalize each and every event by hearing the needs and hearing the kind of atmosphere and vibe that they want to also create not just with music but with lighting. We can just do what we call a basic lighting. It can be lights on walls or trees or columns, something simple and unique and very intimate. We can go anywhere from that to creating a nightclub anywhere. In the middle of a beach or the middle of anywhere.
We can create anything simple and we can also bring a nightclub or whatever you want, anywhere. We have dance floors. We have 14 different kinds of dance floors! One of them can be personalized, so we call “chameleon,” we can do pretty much any design on it. And we have LED, we have wood, we have rustic wood, we have 15 different kinds of DJ booths for different themes and we had LED DJ booths, we have wood, we have white, acrylic and many different kinds of Dj booths for different occasions. And we also have many other services like giant letters, confetti machines, fog machines, among a lot of other stuff we can provide.
Arianna: How do you handle song requests and what if they are super-unusual?
Alex: Okay, that is a very good question. The way we handle song requests we have a format, a DJ questionnaire that answers most of my questions. Two of my most important questions on that questionnaire is a must play list and a do not play list. Where It helps me to get to know the kind of music that my client want, the kind of vibe they want me to create and judging by that if someone requests a song that doesn’t go with the category of music that they are wanting me to do, then just kindly say no. If they request something that is actually going to help with the atmosphere that my clients wants, then I can say yes. So, some song requests can help, and some song requests can kill the vibe, so it is important for a DJ to judge when to say yes and when to say no.
If my clients have very particular with music, if they have a special, for us it is always really cool because we like to play very different from one wedding to another one. So if we have a challenge to play, let’s say, electronic music or reggae for us it is very cool because it is easy for us to just play a top 40 mix and make people dance that is really, really easy for us. However, if you personalize and somebody says I only want this kind of music, it is very known that people who like house music, like certain DJ’s, certain style, certain vibe, and we just love that because we like the challenge, we like to study the vibe, the exact vibe they want us to create. We make sure they have every single song they request, and then we perform. The day of, we really don’t work much we just really do what we do best. We love what we do and do it with a lot of passion. So, that is the way we handle song requests we decide whether it is something good for the night and if not, we normally say we can’t unless it is a very important person. Sometimes we either ask our wedding coordinator or somebody close to them.
Arianna: Yeah, because it can kill the party, right, Alex – like, it can definitely change the mood?
Alex: We actually get into a lot of people, people from New York, people for San Francisco, people from LA. They are always very particular with the kind of music they want. So, you don’t want to play something very cool and then somebody request the Macarena or something.
We are normally really nice and like to say yes most of the time. But sometimes we have to say we can’t, you know. And most times the brides and grooms or clients understand because they trust our judgment and we are always good at judging what to play and when to play it.
Arianna: How do you motivate a shy crowd to dance?
How do you motivate a shy crowd…that’s a good question. Sometimes the idea of the bride and groom isn’t working so I always ask permission to go a different route. And I always like to, in between a song, I always like to get up and look closely who I have and just try different stuff. When a crowd is shy, what we do is we test different types of songs and depending on what people react to is what we going to go to. If that direction is something that the bride and groom would not be happy with, I could go and ask them if I can improvise a little bit.
Most times we know how people will get on the dance floor, or sometimes when we have a playlist it makes it hard so sometimes we just have to get out a little bit and just study the crowd and that is normally how we deal with a shy crowd. Or sometimes people will just come and tell you and then you understand their style better. When you have a shy crowd, it is always good to test songs and then just mix them quick and move to the next one. Once you know the style and what they like better its where you want to stay. You get to know the crowd and you perform better. Communication.
Arianna: Do you design a music itinerary for the night?
Alex: No, the way we work is we like to have an idea because we always like to get information about our clients and we have an idea of what we are going to do but it always depends on what is happening in the moment. Its how much people are clinking the glass of wine, how much they are drinking, how much they are talking, some crowds want to start the party even earlier. Some people are shy and take a little longer, it’s called intuition and improvisation and that helps us a lot. So, we have an idea what we are going to play but a lot of time in the moment we judge in the moment what we are going to play and how we are going to play it. If you already have an itinerary for the music you are going to play, it might work it might not work. It is probably not the best idea because you never know how a crowd is going to react.
Arianna: Any funny stories that you can share to us?
Alex: Actually yes, one that has to do with that last question. I performed for a very important company in Colorado and they gave me a playlist. And what I normally do is I like to play 2 songs out of the playlist and then 1 song of my choice to keep the majority of the music out of the playlist and then always fill the gaps with music like that. So, it sometimes the same or better and we really good at judging that. And I had a coordinator that said no you have to play out of my playlist, and I said I am, and then she literally wanted me to play out her iPad. She said it always works, this always works, this never fails, that it is a very good playlist and the people always loves it. I hated it but I had to do that because she told me and then I was for the first 30 minutes, I was the most hated person for the first time in my life in a wedding when it is normally the other way, we normally walk out of there always being the heroes. So, people started getting mad at me and I explained them and once they understood they talked to the bride and groom, and then they said no you do your job, you do what you do best.
We did a funny thing with the playlist; I did an effect like when you stop a record (sound effect). And then I started playing the music that I knew people wanted. By the time I spend time with people asking them what they wanted. I said I am actually really good at this kind of music, so I really like to do my job, but I need permission. I can not go and just pass the wedding coordinator. We talk and they let me do my job and people say that in that venue they said it has been the best wedding they have ever seen. I was actually pulled inside the dance floor and my shirt was auctioned to the best bidder and then somebody caught it. And they said I was a hero and that I saved the night, and everyone loved my music.
Arianna: It was here in Cabo, Alex?
Alex: Yes, it was a Flora Farms, and yes, exactly, we have a lot of experience. I think it is important for people to know that we do need a guide. We like to have somewhere to start. We want people to tell us what they want so we can personalize the night. But we are really good at improvising and filling the gaps. So, it is important for people to know that we are really good at improvising and doing our job. And when we have that freedom we can perform really, really, good.
Arianna: What are your top tips?
Alex: I would like to respond by saying it is important for people NOT to give us a playlist for the whole night because even when you know your crowd, you never know how they are going to react to a song. I have had people giving me playlist where they want the exact timing of what they want next, and the songs and everything, and you never know how the people are going to react. It’s always better to trust the DJ, to give him and idea, and just let us do our job. They should always give advice and an idea of what they want but trust you to do the best.
Clearly, working with a highly experienced wedding music professional like Alex can take an ordinary wedding reception to the next level. Think of how much effort goes into planning all the other wedding elements, from the dress to the vows, to the decor to the transportation and so on. What a mistake not to put as much thought into what will surely be some of the happiest moments of the entire celebration for you and your guests.
Speaking of all the other elements, please reach out if you have any questions at all. For more information on DJ Alex please visit his website. Follow Alex here on instagram. Follow him here on Facebook!