1. Introduction: What's your story?
HI!!! My name is Dave Swirsky and I am Owner-DJ of Expressway Music located in both the heart of New York City and Westchester County NY. I know it sounds funny but i really like dj'ing weddings. I got my start dj'ing when my very young folks (they had 3 kids by age 24) started having regular parties. (They came up with a theme for each party also). Outdoor parties, indoor parties, Saturday night fever parties, Halloween parties... you name it. From the start, i dj'd every party and really haven't stopped since then and like anything you do A LOT you get really good at it.
In my case, my folks invited everyone so there would be the neighbors and their 5 kids and my dad's 65-year-old chiropractor and his wife and that's when I learned how to "read the crowd" and play the right songs at the precise right times. I just wanted to keep EVERYBODY dancing and having fun. It was natural for me to become a wedding and event DJ. To me, music is its own universal language that is very unifying. To be able to be part of a couple's big day is a privilege I NEVER lose sight of. I started Expressway Music to be a place where Brides and Planners could trust to be a perfect source to find a DJ who is experienced and professional with outstanding reviews. After 29 years, so far so good!!!
2. What's your experience as a wedding DJ? How many weddings have you done?
I began dj'ing weddings after years of dj'ing every other type of event imaginable. I felt the other events were the "minor leagues" and I considered (and still do) Wedding Dj'ing to be the major leagues. I never personally counted how many weddings I have dj'd but i can tell you it's a lot and of all types and at many diverse and unique (and not so unique) venues. I have dj'd numerous mixed nationality weddings, LBGT weddings, Same Sex weddings, Weddings on Yachts, Weddings in Fire Island, Weddings on Estates, Weddings in the Hamptons, Weddings in Washington DC, Weddings in 5-star hotels, Weddings on Shelter Island, Weddings in Bars, Weddings in Back Yards, Weddings in Houses, Weddings on Rooftops..There aren't many types of venues i have not DJ'd in. I also DJ often for very discerning Wedding Planners and enjoy it very much. Professional planners have a good eye for talent and would never recommend a DJ they haven't vetted for a long time.
3. How far in advance do couples need to book your services?
Typically, the most requested DJ's get booked first. I tend to get booked far in advance as do a number of our DJ's like DJ Alberto, DJ Mac, DJ Hank.
Every year seems to change the dynamic of how early we get booked though. I feel the pandemic has "evened the playing field on this". The Pandemic has caused so many shut downs and delays that even the dj's who are booked the furthest in advance could very likely still be available on a popular date and i think this will hold true for quite some time.
4. What's your rate? What does that include?
So my company has many options for this thus the rate will be different depending on the option.
Our Basic Basic rate is one of our DJ's who will also emcee for up to 6 hours (ceremony thru reception)
We base this rate on the experience of the DJ, the popularity of the date, Where the wedding is located, and for how many guests...
for this, our rate range would be from $1800 to $2500. Overtime is pro-rated.
My company Expressway Music also offers live musicians for the ceremony and/or cocktail hour ranging from a solo (harpist, violinist, guitar or pianist) to Duo's, trios, and quartets.
You could have our Harp, violin, cello trio where our Harpist will play the invite and then the two add'l musicians will join her for the ceremony
They could either stay for cocktail hour or our DJ will DJ the cocktail hour and reception
Other services we offer include: Brand new Mirror Photobooths, Jazz trio, vocal/piano duo, a ca Pella vocal group, lighting, and even Karaoke!!
5. Are you available to travel if needed?
Yes. I have dj'd in Puerto Rico, Palm Springs California, Boston Mass, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Cape May NJ, Lake George NY, and many more destinations away from the NYC metropolitan area. When we do a destination wedding we ask for a hotel room for 2 nights and preferably at the hotel, the event will take place in or nearby. When I dj'd a wedding recently at the Hay Adams in Washington DC the lovely Bride/Groom reserved a room for me so when i arrived the night before the wedding I could get a good nights sleep and be ready for the wedding the next day refreshed and ready to go!!! The wedding lasts into the wee hours of the morning but because I had a room in the same hotel it was extremely convenient to still get enough sleep and leave before check out the next day.
6. How would you describe your style?
If I could pick one word for my style it would be adaptable. Other adjectives I would throw in there would be "flexible" and "open". I am not your "one size fits all DJ". I analyze things quickly and typically am spot on with my assessments. I feel this is truly what you pay DJs for which is to make the music work for each and every wedding. To me every wedding is different so why shouldn't the music reflect and embrace the guestlist that the DJ is playing for? In the rare chance, I get to be a guest at a wedding I often witness DJ's playing music that has worked for them 1000 times before (and there is nothing wrong with that) but instead of resting on their laurels and instead of digging a little deeper (or tried a little harder), they might have discovered a song on the Brides must playlist that would've fit better and taken the party to the next level! It's often these subtle nuances that the more experienced DJs make that make the difference between a good wedding and an outstanding one!
7. What's your backup plan if there's an equipment malfunction? Do you bring backup equipment?
Typically if there is a malfunction(and it is extremely rare) it's usually because the DJ is not on a 20 amp DEDICATED circuit. Dedicated is the keyword here meaning the DJ is the only one plugged into the circuit. If other things are plugged into the same circuit as the DJ it could cause a momentary short circuit where the DJ's computer would then have to reboot. It's for this reason I have 2 backup plans. I bring a backup full rig that stays in my vehicle which i have never had to use but it's the fail-safe plan. What i do on every job is in addition to my main computer/mixer..I bring an additional mixer and two Ipads that are already looping music so if there is a momentary music stoppage I just turn up the volume on the 2nd mixer and I'm back in business in no time at all.
8. What's your sick day policy?
Expressway Music has 8 DJs on the roster and we have never had 8 weddings in one day! So that is backup number one. We are also close with a number of "competitors" who we consider friends who would come to the rescue if need be. We also tell our DJ's if you are not feeling good even a few days before the wedding let us know so we can make backup plans right away rather than at the last minute. I appreciate this question a lot because this is a highlight of why it is beneficial to hire a Pro DJ from a company with a proven track record of delivering quality year after year.
9. How do you motivate a shy crowd to dance? What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?
This is precisely one of the main reasons for what you pay us for! This isn't a simple answer. I have dj'd weddings where the Bride and Groom want very minimal dancing. I actually have one coming up where the couple wants the bulk of the music to be classical/Latin guitar music..if the guests want to dance they can request it and they prefer no announcements on the microphone. There are weddings I have done where the bride was not in the reception room most of the party or was in the room but wasn't a dancer or where I was set up inside and guests could go outside and it was beautiful outside...all these scenarios are not conducive for dancing however that doesn't mean the Bride and guests aren't having a great time. I think the worst thing a DJ can do is to force something on guests that they don't want to do.
The long and the short answer to this is the best DJ's "read" the crowd. If I feel the crowd is reluctant to dance it's usually because either the bride isn't around or they haven't eaten or had enough to drink so I don't push it. I know from many years dj'ing that it's all about the timing and it can't be forced. I have dj'd many weddings where I was playing back round music for a long time but I knew from experience that once they had enough to drink they would be out on the floor in full force and I've always been right about that.
If I feel the crowd needs a little motivation i will ask trivia questions or instigate an "Anniversary Dance" or initiate "the shoe game" or "heads or tails"(but before I do any of these I run it by the bride and only proceed if she gives thumbs up!!
10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?
We ask for 1/3 deposit to reserve the date. If the wedding is cancelled deposits are good for up to 1 year to use on another event. In some rare cases we gave back the deposit in full even though we lost the entires day income. We feel that "Life Happens" sometimes and if the circumstances are dire enough showing compassion is worth more then $$$.