Ten years of Learning.

Vegas 2005

The Vegas Strip


Little did I know way back in February 2002 as my wife and I boarded a plane heading for Las Vegas, Nevada, USA that my DJ business was about to take off in a whole new direction. We were heading for the MobileBeat DJ show and convention. The idea was to learn how we could expand our business and hire and train more disc jockeys.

I had previously come across the MobileBeat magazine whilst on holiday the previous year. The magazine was full of articles about being a mobile DJ. Each article was written by a working DJ and the topics covered just about every aspect of the business. This was like gold dust to me because there was nothing like it available in the UK at the time. So when I heard about the show I just had to go.

From the moment we set foot in the convention hotel we were given a very warm welcome. The first evening we were sat outside the restaurant in the bar having a drink. It was evident by looking around us and noticing all of the people wearing DJ T-shirts and Branded company logo jackets that we were among fellow convention attendees. Someone overheard our conversation and invited us to join their group. everyone was amazed that we had travelled so far to attend the show and within minutes we were sharing ideas and discussing the differences of DJing around the world.

The following three days were an education in more ways than one. We met dozens of people who all took an interest in us and who wanted to share what ever they believed would help us in our business. Little did Carol I know that this was to be the start of a journey which would see us returning year after year. Each visit produced more insight and knowledge which we used to develop our DJ business. If only we had a show like this one in the UK.

On our second visit to the show in 2003 it became evident that the American DJ industry was both driven and supported not only by MobileBeat but by a number of other publications and disc jockey associations. It was also pointed out to me that i had an obligation to share my new-found knowledge with my fellow DJs in the United Kingdom.

National Association of Disc Jockeys  

I had to search around to find a disc jockey association in the UK. There were none in the north-west of the country and it transpired that the only two associations I could find were located in Reading and Maidstone. I visited them both. In the end I chose Thames valley DJA over SEDA. Thames valley was nearer and a little more open when it came to membership from outside of their base area. TVDJA already had a couple of members from Wales so the idea of a crazy scouser travelling five hours to join them on a Sunday lunchtime was bemusing but accepted.

Membership of both associations in those days was small by comparison to what it had been in the past. I was frustrated and wanted to make the association available to more DJs around the country. The committee agreed and the following year Thames Valley changed its name to The National Association of Disc Jockeys or NADJ as it has become known. Austin Levitt was the founding chairman however he was soon to step down and I found myself as the Chairman of the organisation. I had a vision and a plan which saw me travelling the length and breadth of the UK over the next three years. Local meetings were arranged and branches were established around the country. The committee evolved and thanks to the help of many people we finally grew the membership and provided a facility for British DJs to exchange ideas and learn new skills.

As word spread some DJs were suspicious of NADJ and me in particular. Why do we need an association they would say. Forums where the place most Djs went to exchange views. The internet was seen as the modern way to communicate. Others decided to do their own thing and within a couple of years there were more than half a dozen DJ associations to choose from in the country. While I was disappointed that NADj would not be the “umbrella” organisation I had hoped for I was delighted that in just a few short years the UK  had a network of learning and sharing for DJs to choose from.

Pro-Mobile Magazine:  

Whilst the DJ associations were growing a young man by the name of EDDIE SHORT was developing a magazine for the mobile DJ in the UK. Pro-Mobile Magazine was badly needed and filled a gap in the market perfectly. Together with a small number of like-minded DJs who contributed articles Eddie and his team created a product which spread knowledge far wider than the associations could.

I managed to convince Eddie that he would benefit from a visit to the MobileBeat show in Vegas and eventually he agreed to join me. I knew the owners and introduce him to them. I remember the meeting one evening in their hotel suite where I left Eddie to chat about DJ shows, publishing and all thing technical. Needless to say Eddie was impressed and returned to Vegas on a number of occasions in order to pick up more knowledge both for his magazine and for himself as a working DJ.


I had always wished that we could have a show of our own like MobilBeat in the UK. Eddie also thought it would be a good idea but he also knew it would have to be different in order to appeal to our British way of doing things. Eddie teamed up with Mark Walsh and together they created the blueprint for what would become the BPM show. So you can imagine how delighted I was to be in Las Vegas with both Eddie and Mark and to see the first BPM show take place later that year at Donnington Park.

NADJ  had organised their own trade shows and led the way by introducing seminars as well as displaying products from manufacturers and retailers. Paul Arnett’s DJ Show North had also provided an opportunity for DJs to experience the best of what the industry had to offer. PLASA show in London was becoming less and less mobile dj friendly which helped drive more and more visitors to these new DJ events.

Fast forward to today and what do we see. BPM is bigger and better than ever, in fact it is the biggest DJ show in the world. BPM 2012 at the N.E.C. in Birmingham this October is set to break all-time records  for visitors to a DJ show. Education will play an important part of the event with three full days of seminars covering all things DJ. The contributors will be assembled from all walks of  DJ life providing advice and education for those who want to develop their skills or grow their business.


I have had the pleasure to present many seminars at BPM over the years. These have been well attended and warmly received.  Feedback from the seminars indicated that there was a need for a more focused and dedicated method of sharing ideas and experiences. This led me to develop a series of workshops were a small number of djs can relax in an environment where ideas can be examined and refined. Workshops also allow for one on one coaching and development for the attendee. The workshops have been an amazing success. I am humbled when I list the gifted and talented Djs who have attended.

This year I shall be holding a workshop to coincide with BPM.

It will be held at a nearby hotel on Monday October 8th and repeated on Tuesday 9th. For more details please visit the eventbrite web site.

So, looking back if Carol and I had not boarded that plane ten tears ago would there be an NADJ today?

Would Pro-Momile Magazine have developed the way it has?

Would there be the choice of associations for DJs to choose from?

Would BPM have very been created?

Would DJs be able to attend seminars and workshops?

The answer to all of  these questions is YES, probably they would, all be it in a different format.

I wonder what the next ten years will have to offer?

Thanks for reading.

Derek Pengelly


4 Comments on “Ten years of Learning.”

  1. Peter Walsh says:

    I enjoyed reading your Success Story Derek and Carol ……Congratulations on your Journey !!

  2. Derek- Thanks for giving the Mobile Beat Show so much credit in the transformation of your business. Bob and I were just two guys with a dream back in 1991 when it all started. Folks like you made it all worth the effort.

    • derekpen says:

      It is I and those who followed me that should be thanking you, Bob and Ryan.
      Without you guys we would have had to find our way alone.
      The great educational content you produced over the ten years has touched at least hundreds, if not thousands of UK DJs, directly or indirectly, who all owe a debt of gratitude to you and your team.
      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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