Whether you’re throwing a small dinner party, holiday event or New Year’s eve rager, your playlist can make or break the event. You’ve spent the time and energy on the perfect decorations, food, and outfit – don’t underestimate your playlist. Music sets the tone for a party, creates an ambiance, and can be the deciding factor in the fullness and excitement levels of your dance floor.

To help you craft the perfect soundtrack for any get-together, I chatted with mobile DJ Josh De La Salle for his best tips and tricks. Better known as Dancesonic, De La Salle crafts playlists for weddings, events, parties and, most famously, YukomiCon.

Know Your Audience

“The best party playlist is one that everyone can relate or dance to,” says De La Salle.

It’s important to think about your audience ahead of time so that you have the right mix of songs that will keep people on the dance floor. Choose songs that your audience will know and love while still keeping it fresh – don’t just play the same songs throughout the night or even from party to party.

Different Folks Like Different Guitar Strokes

For larger events, you will likely have a mix of ages and tastes. It can be hard to pick music everyone is guaranteed to enjoy. In fact, De La Salle calls it “an impossible task.”

But while you can’t please everyone all of the time, you can aim to have something for everyone some of the time. Try and have a combination of classic songs and newer songs to lighten up the night and get everyone whatever their taste on the dance floor.

Nail the Transitions

“Transitioning your songs throughout the night can possibly make or break your night,” says De La Salle.

A mixer can help significantly to keep the flow as you go from one song to the next. Ten seconds is the magic amount of time for optimal flow. Mix your songs together so that the next song starts 10 seconds before the first song ends. For those who don’t have fancy hardware, players like iTunes come equipped with a crossfade function.

De La Salle also recommends trying to keep similar songs together: play dance songs together and slower songs together.

“[When you have] another song that’s close to the same [tempo], you can start the next song and the beats will flow together to keep the music going.”

This may take some creativity, he warns, as finding the perfect tempo match can be tough.

Switch it Up

Don’t get stuck playing the same genre all night long. Your guests will appreciate some variation and it will be a great way to show off your musical knowledge. Again, because an event will have a mix of tastes, changing up the playlist will help you cater to all your guests.

Unfortunately there is no one formula to get a great playlist every time – trust me, I asked. But stick to these tips and you’ll have the keys to a successful night.