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.
D.J.s play recorded music for an audience. The songs often suit the theme of the event and the process usually entails aligning the beats of the set of songs in a way the tempos and rhythms sync when played together. This allows for a smooth transition from one music to the other.
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.
Music has been around for as long as we know it and has evolved through the years with the help of composers, songwriters, and our favorite event guests, the D.J.s. Back in the day, D.J.s used to spin vinyl records, most of them in this field had an extensive collection of vinyl records, and a fully equipped set-up in a specific venue. But over the years, due to the new and constantly updating software, the term ‘D.J.ing’ began to mean different things to different people.
However, the very first disc jockey session was a live radio experiment on airwaves made by a 16 years old named Ray Newby in 1909. He was an Engineering and Wireless student who studied under the supervision of Charles Herrold at Herrold College. These experiments that started in the Garden City Bank Building sparked a musical movement that spread from California to the entire world. But it wasn’t until 25 years later that American radio commentator Walter Winchel coined the name ‘disk jockey’ to describe radio announcer Martin Block, who was the first person to gain fame for playing the most trendy music at the time on-air.
A few years later, DJ Jimmy Savile, claimed he was the first to use twin turntables, he organized the first DJ dance party by playing a series of jazz records at Otley, England in 1943. Then in 1947, the world considered Whiskey a Go Go Nightclub to be the first Discotheque with its very own DJ. Subsequently, more people started learning the craft of turning tables and mixing, and at the turn of the century, new technological advances made new sounds and styles possible.
The founder and origin of National Disk Hockey Day remain unknown. But every year we pay tribute to these performers and encourage everyone to celebrate.
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.
This year, disco-influenced electronic dance music emerges; it is named ‘House’ after the WareHouse club in Chicago.
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.
Host a D.J. battle
A fun way to celebrate is to have a D.J. battle with some of your local, professional, and amateur D.J.s. Give prizes to the champions.
5 Important Facts About Popular Disc Jockeys
The trance legend
Armin Van Buuren has a Master’s Degree in Business Law — he graduated from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
Ever heard of Tim Bergling?
After trying to figure out what his stage name should be, the Swedish D.J. picked his name from the Buddhisim act, which refers to the lowest level of hell.
From classic to electronic
Popularly known D.J. Zedd is recognized for his huge house anthems, but many people do not know he was a trained classical musician and started playing the piano at age four.
The led masked duo
It’s pretty incredible to learn that the duo known as Daft Punk haven’t allowed anyone to take pictures of their faces since 2006.
The prehistoric D.J.
Thomas Pentz, famously known as Diplo, got his name from his favorite dinosaur, the Diplodocus (the plant-eater with a long neck).
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