You might be wondering: Will I know it when I hear it? But that’s the wrong question. You see, you don’t just hear the drop. You feel it.

Don’t give me that look. Okay, fine—let me break it down for you.

You know that anxious kind of anticipation—the kind of pause you feel when you’re too excited to act excited, when you just need what’s going to happen next to hurry up and happen already? That’s how you know it’s coming.

“I guess you’ll just know it when you feel it.”

DJs purposely build their crowds up (see: the build), just to get them in that state. The build is a tease—like that schoolmate who flirted with you in anatomy class but always backed off at the brink of anything more, or the downright pornographic Instagram of your favorite restaurant.

The drop? Now that’s sweet, sweet release. And you’ll want to relive it over and over. Trust me.

We can argue all day about what types are best—heavy, dirty drops; groovy, melodic drops; mellow, tropical drops; altogether unexpected drops—but the same basic principle remains, no matter the flavor. In a live set, drops are necessary elements of the performance DNA. They break up the classic four-bar loop and inject energy back into the crowd. Think of it like a shot of Red Bull and vodka straight to the heart.

A great drop doesn’t have to be gnarly, but it does have to be mind-blowing. I don’t necessarily mean in a face-melting, body-vibrating sort of way, although drops that have those characteristics usually go pretty hard. The drop can be an infectiously dance-y riff; it can be an almost overwhelming emotion; it can be a tearjerker. It just has to be something. It has to make you feel something. A good drop is worth the anticipation of the build. And a bad drop can really ruin a song.

Important side note: This should go without saying, but just in case you’re not keeping up: Do not stop, talk over, or otherwise interrupt a song right before or during the drop. There aren’t many cardinal rave sins, but that is definitely one of them.

The drop is the most intense part of a track. It’s the part when everyone becomes your friend—as in, that person dancing their ass off next to you looks over, and you two share a “hell yeah” look. It’s the headbanging part, or the stomping part, or the sway-your-hips-like-mad part. It’s the part! That part.

I guess you’ll just know it when you feel it.


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