National DJ Day might celebrate the work of our favorite disc jockeys, but it stems from the work of ONE famous jock: Alan Freed, whom you might know as ‘Moondog.’ This 1950s DJ, who coined the term ‘rock and roll,’ is the reason we honor DJs on January 20. On this day, we celebrate the talents of all the disc jockeys, from those playing the ‘Chicken Dance’ for the millionth time at a wedding to the radio personalities who help you get through the morning commute.
History of National DJ Day
National DJ Day takes place on January 20 every year. On this day, we celebrate amateur and professional DJs who spin the records and play the grooviest music at the right time. The music is usually played in front of a live audience, but televised or recorded music sessions are also available. The most common types of DJs are club DJs, radio DJs, party DJs, and turntablists — who scratch and manipulate sounds by playing records on turntables.
The first-ever disc jockey was actually the result of an experiment on live radio. A 16-year-old boy named Ray Newby played some records on air, catalyzing a movement that started in California and spread to the entire world. At this time, the term ‘disc jockey’ did not exist. It only appeared about 25 years later when the term was used by radio commentator Walter Winchell to describe music broadcasters on-air. This was also when the primary source of music were records, and not CDs or digital playlists.
On January 20, DJing and influential DJs are celebrated, but the day also marks the death anniversary of one of the world’s most iconic disc jockeys — Alan Freed, aka ‘Moondog.’ He was famous for pushing rock ‘n’ roll music and popularizing DJing.
National DJ Day timeline
California's Ray Newby is a 16-year-old college student who plays records from a small transmitter — long before the term 'disc jockey' is popularized.
Walter Winchell coins the term 'disc jockey.'
Alan Freed plays a mix of blues, country and R&B and calls it rock and roll, and arranges live concerts attended by racially mixed audiences — a breakthrough at the time.
Despite high ratings, New York's WNBC Radio famously fires the controversial 'shock jock' after a little over three years on the air — Stern would eventually take his show to satellite radio and go on to become one of the most successful radio personalities of all time.
National DJ Day FAQs
What day is National DJ Day?
National DJ Day is celebrated on January 20 every year.
What does a DJ do?
Being a DJ is fun work — you make a living from curating the perfect playlists and blending sounds. Inspirational and creative, DJs are the driving force of every dance party.
Who is the #1 DJ in the world?
Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike are considered to be the number one DJs in the world.
National DJ Day Activities
Call in a request
Phone in your favorite radio show and request your favorite song. While you're on the phone, make sure the DJ knows that YOU know it's National DJ Day — and say "thanks."
Have a dance party
Grab your spouse, kids, or best friends and blare your favorite music. Have an impromptu dance party in your living room.
Turn to social media
Hop on Twitter or Facebook and post about #NationalDiskJockeyDay. Tag a favorite DJ and/or radio station, and make sure they know how much you appreciate their work.
5 Truly Odd Spots To Go Clubbing
Inside a glacier
Iceland hosted its Secret Solstice festival in 2015 at a temporary club in a glacier.
In a treehouse
The Tree House Club, in Nairobi Kenya, fits 1,000 people.
On a Serbian river
Klub 20/44 is on a rickety barge tethered to a bank on the Danube River.
In a cave on a Spanish island
Cova Santa cave in Ibiza is more than 80-feet deep, and it still has a pirate lair from five centuries ago.
Under in the Pacific Ocean
You can rent out the Maldives' Subsix restaurant as a club, which rests on a coral reef nearly 20 feet underwater.
Why We Love National DJ Day
They wake us up in the morning
The morning commute can be a drag, especially in the dead of winter. Morning-show DJs can keep us alert and awake — all while spinning our favorite tunes.
They get us dancing
No wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, or celebration is complete without a DJ making sure our guests are having a good time. Once the lights dim and the music is pumping, the evening can turn magical.
Music is important in every culture
From the clapsticks of indigenous Australian tribes to the 'sorna' and 'dohol' used in ancient Persian folk tunes, music has been a part of our DNA since the beginning. It's been proven to reduce stress while improving both our mood and memories.
National DJ Day dates