How to DJ like a Party Scientist


DJing is being re-invented. Learn how to not get left behind.

Read this article to learn how to leverage music to create unprecedented nourishing experiences with large groups.

Most DJs. They focus on technicals. They think about BPM, transitions, and tracklists.

Does the audience care?

If you ask them, they will say yes. But, psychologically, they don’t. Psychologically, the audience cares about togetherness.

The audience cares about feeling connected to the DJ and to each other. And DJs have no idea how to evoke this feeling.

This is the great incongruity — DJs focus on what they think the audience thinks they want. But the truth is that the audience craves belonging and social acceptance. The technicals of music are not the best approach to fulfilling this want.

This is why I am calling for DJs to evolve to the next phase of party culture with me. A party culture that focuses on belonging and uniting experiences.

This is the age of the party scientist.

A party scientist focuses on connection, not technicals. A party scientist speaks to the audience and cultivates a sense of WE. A party scientist forgets about looking cool, thereby enabling every audience member to let go of their self-consciousness. A party scientist is radically different than a DJ. And radically better at producing an exhilarated sense of unity.

DJs play music, party scientists use music to ignite play.

Amidst the loneliness epidemic, the world needs DJs to evolve to party scientists. The rewards are there.

How to evolve from a DJ to a party scientist?

In my adventures throwing parties in 12 different countries, I have learnt a lot about facilitating potent experiences. These are 5 steps I recommend every DJ take to nourish their audience, not just musically but spiritually.

  1. Introduce yourself and your intention — Speak from your heart about the experience you want to create for everyone. Be vulnerable. Don’t try to look cool. Make sure the audience knows that you need them to make it happen.
  2. Radically express yourself — Audience members are looking at you for cues as to what is acceptable. If you jump and shake your head, they will too. If you take off your shirt and throw it, they will be more open too. If you cheer and yell, they will too. Use the microphone to make your expression public. Simple phrases like “I love this moment!” work wonders.
  3. Invite your audience to look at each other — Eye contact is the emotional highway. Simple episodes of nonverbal connection can do wonders to create togetherness. Use the microphone to get people to look away from the stage and smile at a few people.
  4. Play singalongs — Singing is an evolutionary social-bonding process. When humans sing together, endorphins are released in the human brain. Use the microphone to lead the singing. Make sure you sound bad so that others are not self-conscious.
  5. Break the divide — Most DJs are separate from their audience. Break this separation. Invite people on stage or go join the crowd. When you get off your pedestal or invite other people onto your pedestal, you make everyone feel welcome.

Example: Do what Steve Aoki does.

My thesis is this.

If you want to have a larger emotional and physiological impact on your audience, apply the science of social-bonding. Be a party scientist when no one else even knows what this means.

And remember: Your audience thinks they want one thing, but really craves something entirely different.

The audience craves being celebrated by their fellow fallible creatures.


What resonated in this article? Leave a comment or send me an email. Criticisms are welcome and celebrated. beyoutiful@thepartyscientist.com

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A Game To Warm Up Creative Thinking — What if… Then.


In this article, you will learn a game that unlocks creativity and play in a group of up to 5 people. Ready to expand your prosocial toolkit?


When I researched improv, my mindset changed. I learnt that there was a philosophy, a framework. It was not just fun and games. improvisers think differently and practice principles. I soon realized I wanted to incorporate these into my own practice.

One of these core principles is Yes And: Build off another person’s expression, don’t block it. This principle is encapsulated by the distinction between responding to someone with ‘yes, and’ and with ‘but.’ When we respond with ‘but’ we’re fault-finding. Our curiosity is not active. Our cooperativity goes down. The speaker feels less encouraged to share more.

When we respond with ‘yes, and’ we are getting excited about, expanding on, and validating what has been shared. We approach the interaction from a place of collaboration, not competition or argumentation.

Argumentation is generally not prosocial. Exploration is.

I want to argue with people less. I want to give up my dogma and get curious about others’ experiences. Yes, And helps me do this.

All that to say, I invented a game based on this improv principle. I have used it with groups all over the planet. Here’s how to play:

  1. Person 1 begins with the following sentence stem: What if “event happened in our immediate situation”? 
    Ex. What if you heard a big explosion outside your window right now?
  2. Person 2 responds very concisely: I would “action.” Ex. I would run outside with a speaker and play music.
    Then, person 2 adds another layer to the story: What if “event happened”? Ex. What if everyone was already dancing and the explosion was a confetti cannon?
    Note, it’s best when each player responds with a single concept or response. Less is more.
  3. Person 1 (or 3) responds: I would “action”… And then adds another layer.
  4. And so on.

The story being created can involve one protagonist or two or three. Start by using one protagonist that everyone responds as. This means that all the players are pretending to respond as the same person.

When to use this game

This game is perfect for activating the imagination and playfulness of small groups. I usually play with groups of 3 or 4. This is a great game to open people’s minds for creative thinking. It’s a great warm-up.

When the game gets boring, change the game. Add a layer of complexity. Modify it.

And always remember: When someone wins, the game is over.

So **** competitiveness.

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F.Q. — The Fun Intelligence Quotient: How to facilitate fun.


How to initiate moments of joy and connection. For You.

My happiness has been repeatedly elevated by moments of human connection for which I have been responsible. When I catalyze a ritual or experience of human connection, it never fails to fill me with joy and fulfillment. I witness the smiles and connections I generate. It fills my soul.

It is this feeling that has inspired me to write this article.

FQ is a different approach to happiness. Sure, happiness is an inner game. Emotional intelligence is important too. But, what has taken my emotional well-being to the next level has been bringing people together and setting them free. This is the underpinning of FQ.

This article is a course outline. I will teach you my methods for bringing people together, but also the life philosophy that motivates me to do it. This life philosophy is about the inner game — our quality of mind. But also, it challenges the conventional definition of the good life.

My hope is that this article blossoms into an online training, and then a book. It has been too long that we have overlooked the relationship between joy and bringing humans together.


The Fun Quotient

a metric for one’s ability to initiate positive interpersonal interactions.

FQ is one way to measure your interpersonal competence. Your FQ goes up when your competency in three core skills goes up.

  1. The ability to access a prosocial state.
  2. The ability to produce interpersonal psychological safety.
  3. The ability to evoke positive emotions in interpersonal situations.

Humans with high FQ leave the humans lucky enough to be in their presence elevated, energized, and confident. Do you remember a time where you felt fully seen and empowered by another? FQers create this emotion, but they also elicit excitement.

FQers create permission for authenticity and vulnerability. This is the most foundational skill for anyone interested in bringing people together. Whereas most facilitators use self-disclosure or sadness to normalize vulnerability, high FQers know how to use goofiness, joy, and self-deprecation.

Competency #1 — Activate the prosocial state.

Everything flows more easily when you are in a prosocial state and when your guests are in a prosocial state. A prosocial state is a relaxed, un-self-conscious, positive state. Consider getting into a prosocial state as the lubrication of your creativity… graphic.

There are three methods for entering a prosocial state. You can apply these techniques for your own state and for your guests’ state — 1. Raise your heart-rate. 2. Optimize your thoughts. 3. Elevate your mood.

A prosocial state is also characterized by an internal sense of psychological safety: “It’s safe for me take social risks, I’m not afraid of rejection or judgement, I’m on a growth journey.” When we believe it’s safe, whether it’s safe or not, we can take action. We can fall on our face and get back up. We can learn and practice.

In the course, I will go into all three in detail.

Competency #2 — Create psychological safety.

Interpersonal risks are actions of expression or non-conformity. On the mild side of the spectrum, an interpersonal risk could be a smile and wave. On the extreme side, it could be getting everyone’s attention and initiating a line-dance. Interpersonal risks have rewards and dangers. The risk-reward ratio is favourable. Trust me.

Psychological safety is defined by a shared belief that interpersonal risk-taking will be celebrated, not shamed.

To create psychological safety, interpersonal risk-taking as a facilitator is necessary. Often, facilitators use self-disclosure and emotional vulnerability to create safety. FQers use silliness, positive expression, games, and excitement.

For the FQer to take action, they need to not be attached to the result. They must know that its the courageous action that counts, not the result. Being in the gladiator arena is what counts. Not whether you make mistakes. These beliefs reinforce a sense of internal psychological safety I was talking about earlier.

In the course, I elaborate on the principles for developing an unconditional internal sense of psychological safety. I also present the different tactics for creating psychological safety in social environments.

Competency #3 — Uplift your humans.

This is the final competency of FQ, and it stands on the foundation of the previous competencies. This foundation is necessary for the activation of creativity, vulnerability, and play — via the activation of positive emotions.

FQers know that positive emotions reduce stress, boost creativity, and enable deeper human connection. FQers may activate positive emotions for their own sake, or for the sake of nurturing closeness and self-disclosure.

FQers do three things to activate joy — they invite and celebrate human expression, they take the playful path, and they evoke prosocial energy. This energy is the additional emotional expression that is unlocked when humans express in synchrony.

The first technique is about noticing small bits of expression and positively reinforcing those expressions. Example: When someone smiles or laughs, join their smiling and laughing. No straight-face.

The second technique is about your behaviour. Cultivating a ‘propensity to see the light or bright side of life, to joke with other people, and not to take things too seriously in life, keeping a positive state of mind.’ I use goofiness and self-deprecation as a practice for taking the playful path.

Finally, the last technique. What we have all been waiting for. This is about the art of facilitating group activities, circles, and games. I have a repertoire of games that I apply consistently. My favourite is the cinnamon role hug. The principle here is that a facilitator’s expertise is no greater than the quality of their tools. Evoking prosocial energy is about using tools.

One of my favourite tools is music. High FQers have their different styles of evoking prosocial energy, but they all know the power of music in their facilitation. The right song can increase engagement in your group activities, intensify the emotions people are feeling, and give people guidance as to how to participate.

In the FQ course, I give participants my favourite songs and activities to break the ice and ignite play in any social environment. Here’s one song that I have played in tens of countries — I will always love you, by Whitney Houston.

So what did you learn? Comment below and reinforce your memory.

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How to touch someone without touching them.

The benefits of touch justify learning how to touch humans without touching them. Let me tell you how. I’m not crazy, I promise.

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A photo from Amsterdam’s Daybreaker, 2019. It begs the question: What’s a good replacement for human limbo?

March 6, 2020, I returned to Canada from the ‘human contact’ festival, having led a workshop on accessing joy through human connection and multiple 200-person bear hugs on the beach. This is Envision Festival, and here is how people at the festival like to connect: holding hands, colliding bodies, and cheering loudly. Pure expression.

There’s definitely something magical about the synchrony of it all. When you bring hundreds of bodies into proximity, and when they exchange emotions through touch, movement, and vocalization, it’s really easy to feel connected, accepted, a part of something… and high.

I have made this observation in 12 different countries. Human touch and proximity were so fundamental to my art form: facilitating massive, ritualistic celebrations. So, did I cry and panic when COVID hit?

No.

I chose to be optimistic; prosocially intelligent people are resilient in finding ways to create joy and belonging in their interactions. So, I started leading massive virtual parties, for companies like Chevron, and for thrill-seekers across the world. Every week, I would sit down and invent a bunch of virtual games and exercises to elicit the same DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins, Thank you Radha Agrawal), which is much easier to generate body-to-body. But then, something horrible happened.

I got sick of virtual connection. I started to long for the high generated by the physical presence of others. Good thing I lived in Vancouver.

The cases were so low in Vancouver at the time (May). So, I safely assembled a crew and held bike raves, every week. I drafted safety protocols, designated a Chief Safety Officer, and designed human connection activities. It was fun, and I got interviewed in the news to share tips on how to party safely.

After 15 events, I had learnt some alternatives to touch and proximity. My style of facilitation had transformed. I am no longer orchestrating crowd-surfing, bear hugs, and ‘mega drops’ (my favourite celebratory activity). But I believe I have found techniques that mimic the exhilaration.

I want to share with you the results of my experimentation.

This is a party scientist’s guide to replacing the high of physical contact. Without the virtual ****. Below are five different techniques that you can use in your in-person interactions with others to revitalize them.

Let’s dive in.

Use your eyes.

When we engage in eye contact, we transfer emotions. I call it emotional presence; I look at someone intently in the eyes and notice their emotions. Eventually, you cannot help but start to feel their emotions. Oxytocin is released and you start to feel closer. www.human.online provides a platform for engaging in eye contact through zoom.

In your interactions, look people in their eyes and hold it. Absorb their emotions and get high off oxytocin!

Use your body.

Using your body encompasses positioning, facial expression, and posture. Position yourself so you are facing the person. Express emotions through your facial expression. Open your posture toward the person by having your palms face toward them. Two things happen when you practice these techniques. The likelihood that you will feel what the other person is feeling increases, and your ability to express emotions that will transfer to the other human increases.

Who likes being in at a party where everyone has a neutral facial expression? I don’t. In my interactions, I exaggerate my facial expression organically because I have sensitized myself to the emotions of others. When I do this, it creates permission for others to express themselves more.

In summary, create an ‘into it’ vibe with your body language.

Now, practice emotional reflection.

Eye contact and body language are two prerequisites for emotional reflection. This is one of my treasured methods for amplifying expression in my social interactions. Here’s the principle: Whenever someone expresses an emotion, that emotion can be amplified if you feel it and reflect it back at them. Using eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions, you can create more joy in almost any interaction.

Sadness can be amplified too. But, I prefer to amplify joy and deflect negativity. When you practice emotional reflection for uncomfortable emotions, you reduce your ability to actually support the person in front of you. Empathy is sometimes overrated.

Leverage synchrony.

There are piles of research articles on the links between synchrony, in the form of laughter, singing, and movement, and neurochemical changes in the brain. When someone laughs, sings, or moves, I automatically start to mirror them. It makes me feel closer to them, and it amplifies the expression.

Don’t feel the desire to laugh, sing, or move? Try paying more attention to the expression happening in the human before your eyes. Feeling others’ emotions is one way to practice authentic emotional reflection. There’s also the ‘fake it till you make it method.’ Even if I don’t feel like moving, laughing, or singing, I do it anyway. And it changes my state as a result.

This behaviour relates to my philosophy. Here’s one principle I remind myself: Stop being ruled by your state and take conscious action to control it.

Help others.

The helper’s high. Have you heard of it? It turns out that when we consciously choose to help others, it can make us feel good: dopamine and oxytocin are released in the brain. This DOES NOT happen when we are guilted into helping another person. Helping others when you have not choosen to do it results in resentment.

My suggestions for simple ways to exercise kindness is by practicing an attitude of gratitude (saying thank you 20 times per day), spending money on others, sharing relevant information with others, and connecting people to others in your network. These actions fill my life with meaning, I find.

Share non-attributive gratitude.

I mentioned that I try to say thank you 20 times per day. It’s a form of acknowledgement. This technique goes a step further. Non-attributive gratitude expressions are characterized by the acknowledgement of the specific actions that someone took, the description of the impact they had on you, and the linking of those actions to the person’s values.

Here is an example: “Rod, your presentation was very thought-provoking and clear. I loved your analogies. It helped me stay engaged and understand the value of OKRs. I have a lot of confidence in your communication skills. It says a lot about your attention to detail and your ability to articulate complex ideas.”

Being specific and personal is the name of the game. After every experience I lead in Vancouver, we practice this technique by participating in an appreciation circle. One by one, people go into the center and appreciate one another. I also like doing this at the dinner table.

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I am always building my repertoire, so if you have any tips or tricks to add, I would love to hear them.

What is your favourite replacement for physical contact?

The new emotional intelligence is… prosocial intelligence.

When I was 17, I discovered emotional intelligence. In 2020, I discovered prosocial intelligence, and invented a term for it.

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The ability to evoke positive emotions in interpersonal interactions is one of the underlying skills of prosocial intelligence.

After losing my first job as a lifeguard for making one of my students cry, I picked up Ekhart Tolle’s the power of now and started practicing self-awareness. As you know, this is one of the fundamental skills of emotional intelligence.

Throughout university, my EQ skyrocketed. I started meditating, journaling, and forgiving. My relationships improved.

But, you can only go so far with EQ. There’s no doubt that being self-aware, empathetic, and self-regulated is useful. It transformed my quality of life.

But there’s a level higher.

EQ enables another form of intelligence: PQ (Prosocial Intelligence/Quotient).

To illustrate PQ, let me share one of the highlights of my life.

In 2019, I departed on a whim to Costa Rica to volunteer as a harm reduction staff at a festival. Upon arrival, I started a conversation with a stranger in the customs lineup of the airport. I made a good impression, we shared some laughs, and I got the guy’s contact, which came in handy a week later.

I arrived at my hostel in Jacco beach, my first destination. At my hostel, I met a group of Canadian travellers. I remember hanging around the pool with them, engaging in personal story-telling and introspection. We exchanged vulnerabilities and offered new perspectives. It was a moment to be cherished. It was a human-bonding moment.

A week later, I joined these travellers and stayed with them during another giant festival, this one world-renowned, called Envision Festival.

I did not have a ticket.

So, I messaged the stranger in the airport lineup who I knew was attending the festival. Surprisingly, he offered me a ticket. For free.

I rolled up to the festival with some music and led some bear hugs and singalongs outside the main gates. The main gate ambassador approached me and told me “We need to join forces!”

Epic moments later, I was eating with festival staff and I had earned a name for myself among the marketing team at the festival.

In 2020, they invited me back and I performed on the main stage, opening night, with my co-founder and another changemaker named Gini, a powerhouse entrepreneur and community architect who I had networked with.

So, in the span of three weeks, I networked with some incredible humans, and it led to some incredible opportunities and friendships. AND MEMORIES. At any moment, I can return to these memories and fill myself with excitement for life.

When you are prosocially intelligent, opportunities originating from positive, meaningful human connections fly at your from all directions. My trip is exemplary of this. I had scheduled to be in Costa Rica for one week. I stayed for three, made incredible business connections, attended a world-renowned festival, and had my first appearance on the main stage.

That’s not all. The entire trip, my mood was higher than normal, my physical energy was perked up, and my excitement for life was flying high. When you consistently engage in powerful, expressive interpersonal interactions, your mental and physical health is improved.

These are a few of the benefits of PQ.

So, what the hell is Jacques talking about? Let me define it for you.

PQ is the ability to initiate positive, meaningful human contact. Simple.

Not so fast however! PQ is more technical than that. You must develop a few core competencies before you can transform your social interactions into fuel for social, mental and physical wellbeing. The first is the ability to create internal psychological safety.

Psychological safety equals “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” Thank you, Amy Edmondson, for transforming how I relate with humans.

Then, what is internal psychological safety? Well, it’s a translation of your mindset. A growth-oriented, anti-perfectionist mindset enables you to justify taking interpersonal risks regardless of whether it is actually safe or not. On a plane and want to start a singalong? It’s not a safe place to take interpersonal risks.

I did it anyway, and created ‘interpersonal psychological safety.’

This is what Amy is talking about, above. This phenomenon exists within the group, not within your head. This has to do with how the group feels, not how you feel.

This is the second core competency of PQ: the ability to create interpersonal psychological safety. When this is present, suddenly play, fun, expression, and creativity become possible. The depth of your interactions increases. You get to meet the authentic human with whom you are interacting.

A natural extension of these core competencies is the ability to evoke positive emotions in your interactions. Joy, laughter, gratitude, love, excitement. Whenever I feel these emotions, I feel closer to the human with whom I am sharing them.

Positive emotions matter. They reduce stress, increase creativity, and accelerate social-bonding. They also make life exciting. They are healthy.

When you can access positive emotions through human connection, you free yourself from relying on unhealthy sources of joy: shopping, screen entertainment, drugs and alcohol, ‘likes’, (comment below if I am missing any!). The research suggests that you will live longer and happier if you source the majority of your joy from human connection.

I have broken PQ into three core competencies, but there’s one more which relates most closely to leadership: initiating prosocial activities in groups. Standing in an elevator with four strangers? Ask them to share what they are looking forward to. Sitting down at a dinner table with a bunch of acquaintances? Suggest that everyone introduces themselves with their nickname and obsession. Driving with your family or friends to a far-away location? Play a game or sing a song together.

Prosocially intelligent people have a toolkit of activities they initiate in group settings as a means to contribute MASSIVE value. The truth is, many social gatherings are poorly designed, too unstructured, and lack unity. By increasing the amount of closeness and fun in the room, prosocially intelligent people make a name for themselves.

Voila! Those are the four key competencies of PQ. Common among all of them is action.

I believe PQ is a step beyond EQ. You cannot have PQ without EQ. PQ has been the backbone for my mental health, my energy management, and my service-oriented relationship management.

I want to invite you to commit to one behaviour that exercises one of the core competencies I mentioned. Set forth and reap the benefits!