Things you might want to know!

We hope these short articles will throw some light on the finer points of our services.

This blog was created to cover a range of topics and concerns some of our customers have.

There's a lot to read, but it's here if you need to know. All topics are linked in
the right margin.

Blog Topics

  • Radio Mics or Cabled Mics for Karaoke?

    June 26th 2023

    ... that is the question! (As William Shakespeare famously didn't say.)

    It's been a while since our last blog entry, so here's something which has become a hot topic this year.

    We are always looking for ways to improve our services and the use of microphones recently came under scrutiny. Both radio microphones and cabled microphones have their advantages and disadvantages, but we recently found it very necessary to study both options in more detail.

    We have used all kinds of microphones for speech and karaoke purposes over the years and neither radio microphones nor cabled microphones have let us down ... until we did a karaoke wedding earlier this year. The venue was not overly large, but it was extremely echoey and had no drapes, large curtains or other such acoustically deadening materials, so there was a lot of feedback. As you may know, feedback occurs when the microphone picks itself up coming out of the speakers and creates a never-ending loop of screeching, whistles and hums. You really don't want this to happen as the listeners may get deafened momentarily. Not only this, but feedback can cause permanent damage to the loudspeakers, not to mention people's hearing.

    If you put a microphone in front of any loudspeaker, you WILL get feedback. It's just how it is. We have heard this many times, even in large theatre concerts. It applies to every microphone user, be they a singer, a public speaker, any performer in a band or, in our case, a karaoke provider. It can sometimes be a big problem. So how do we get around this?

    Most venues are fine, but quite simply, there are no guarantees. We use uni-directional microphones. These provide a much narrower angle of pickup. We also do our best to make sure that people cannot sing directly in front of a loudspeaker. If we are performing outdoors or in a marquee, then it's unlikely that there will be any echoes, greatly reducing the chance of feedback.

    It's helpful under some circumstances to use cabled microphones. These can be connected to a cable length which tethers the singers to a more confined area and prevents them wandering off in front of the loudspeakers. This all depends on the size of the venue and the area where we set up our equipment. Another consideration is that cabled microphones can cause trip hazards so extra care is needed.

    This year, we have purchased a further four high quality fixed channel, uni-directional radio microphones and we have improved our mixer capabilities to allow more 'headroom'. But we need to make all our customers aware that it is sometimes near-impossible to have zero feedback at a karaoke show. The odd shriek might still occur, but most venues are not a problem.

    There is just one other issue and we have failed to resolve this one - how to stop some singers screeching loudly into the microphone! ;O) At least we can use our mixing desk to regulate the individual levels of each singer! You see, we also need to be sound engineers in order to get the voice-to-music balance right and we are always mindful of this.

  • Playlists

    July 7th 2022

    This has become one of the most controversial yet highly important aspects of any DJ's job and the subject really needs to be carefully digested by anybody booking a disco.

    I was chatting with a DJ friend recently and we were discussing the infamous 'Playlist'. "Infamous", because, every once in a blue moon, they *can* be a problem. So much so that I feel it is worth mentioning here in order to help our customers and as a means of offering some advice in helping people choose their playlists more thoughtfully. There's nothing wrong with playlists. In fact, we encourage them and we feel that they are a very necessary part of our discos, but we need to be aware of the pitfalls. This topic will offer a little guidance.

    Playing the right music is equally as important as avoiding playing the wrong music. Ultimately, it's your decision what we play, and we would never wish to interfere with your choice of music. After all, it's your party and you know the music you and your guests want to hear. We always strive to play as many songs on your playlist as possible and often succeed 100%. Some of our customers ask us to include ALL the songs on their playlist and we always honour such requests. Just be aware that we may not always be able to include every song in a playlist, especially in situations where when the number of songs exceeds the allocated time needed to play them!

    When the disco is in full swing and the dance floor is full, you will appreciate that some playlisted songs may not fit in with the general mood of the minute and so may need to be deferred until it might be more appropriate to play them. An interesting example we came across recently: You wouldn't want to abruptly empty a busy dance floor by following a popular piece of music, where most of the guests dancing away happily, by suddenly dropping in Benny Hill's "Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In The West". This unusual situation actually occurred when this song was requested for the last song at a disco a friend provided recently. The lady who booked the disco had lost her husband and, as you might guess, he used to be a milkman. There aren't any prizes for guessing what happened on the dance floor. The song was 100% appropriate for the lady in question, but the dance floor emptied and there were a few disgruntled voices. You could argue that there's a time and a place for such music, but this nostalgic song was in the playlist.

    Don't forget the requests! We are happy to take requests. Sometimes we are asked NOT to take requests. Either way is fine.

    Don't forget, we have a good knowledge of what to play and what not to play and also when to play it. We might offer some friendly tips and suggestions, but we usually have a good idea what gets people toes tapping and what works on the dance floor. This does not override your needs and we always make these a priority.

    Here's another example, this time at one of our recent wedding discos. We received a comprehensive list of 'MUST PLAY' oldies. We also had a list of 'PLAY IF POSSIBLE' songs. There weren't any current songs in the playlist. Also, as is becoming increasingly popular, we received a list of 'DO NOT PLAY' songs. Some songs may hold strong memories, so it is quite reasonable for anybody to ask for certain songs or artists NOT to be played. The organiser of this disco was disappointed that we had not played a selection of more modern songs. A few guests made it clear that they were not happy with the older music. We politely explained why this was happening and that these songs we had been playing ahd been specifically selected by the bride. Most people understood, however, a few were clearly not happy.

    We are not complaining, but we hope you will take on board the importance of a playlist and how the songs need to be chosen carefully. While we would love to please all our customers and guests all of the time, it's not always easy as we all have different musical tastes. We do try to get the balance right.

    For us, a good playlist is a careful balance of what everybody wants and the organiser has often checked with guests to see what music they want to hear. We are always pleased to help with playlists.

    Our booking form gives space for customers to write down the most important and appropriate songs for their party, perhaps including the first dance of a wedding, together with a space for artists and songs which must NOT be played.

  • PAT Testing

    July 1st 2022

    I got into a discussion with a friend the other day about the fact that some of our PAT testing certificates were about to expire. What I will write below might surprise you.

    In case you are not aware, "P.A.T." (Portable Appliance Testing) tests are electrical safety checks which are carried out to ensure that 'portable' electrical equipment is 'safe'. Think of this as being a bit like an MOT for a car. A few simple tests are carried out, some which require a special meter which will force current into each item to check for any earth leakage, and there are other tests which are purely visual, such as: Examining a cable to check for breaks or exposed inner wires; Checking the connections inside a plugs and sockets; Making sure the fuse is the correct value, etc.

    We discussed the requirements and legalities of this. He used to be responsible for the PAT testing of equipment in an office where he worked for many years. I have to be honest, I always learn a thing or two every time I speak to him as, being involved in electronic engineering, he knows a thing or two about matters like this.

    This may surprise you - and it surprised me when I first heard it. PAT testing is NOT currently a legal requirement, at least not in all circumstances and this is correct at the time of writing this blog entry. Visit this link if you need to know more: However, there are very good reasons to have PAT testing carried out on a regular basis, as we do ourselves.

    There are a few myths associated with the subject. Not all PAT testing companies will tell you that this is not a legal requirement. We do carry out regular inspections and repairs of all our equipment ourselves. It is also possible that I myself could carry out all the PAT testing, as long as I have the correct electrical meters for the purpose and as long as I understand the procedures involved. I have often been tempted to undertake this myself, but I never have. I am actually qualified, not certificated, to do this as I have a good basic knowledge of electrical and electronic circuitry, but we still, as a business, employ an outside contractor to carry out these important tasks.

    PAT testing is common sense, knowing that your equipment is well maintained, then checked by a qualified electrician, then checked each year. It is also useful for other reasons, not least when it comes to our insurance. An article I was reading on the internet clearly states that PAT testing is not currently a legal requirement. However, legislation in the UK states that all businesses and workplaces must maintain all electrical equipment to a safe standard. Also, businesses have a responsibility to their employees, ensuring their health and safety and that of the general public. It's that simple.

    Hopefully this clears up any myths and answers a question or two you may have about PAT testing.

  • Last Minute Bookings

    June 6th, 2022

    Unlike some discos, we don't charge extra for last-minute bookings. Give us a call and find out if we are available.

    Depending on the distance involved and the time needed to load up the van and get to the venue, we might just have the availability. You never know. We are usually prepared and ready to go.

  • The Music

    May 3rd, 2022

    What do we have in our collection? Our music collection really is vast. We have everything we need to cover most parties and tastes. We carry our music digitally these days and at full CD quality. It sits on our storage devices and is cleverly manipulated by a state-of-the-art media controller. We carry backups too! So, in the event of any device breaking down, we've got you covered. We choose not to stream music at the moment as some areas we visit do not provide sufficient signal or data transfer speeds which are needed to provide an unbroken connection. Some would argue that it is cheating to play live from streaming services but it's the way things are moving these days - and each to their own. At least YOU have the assurance of knowing that our music is available to us ALL the time and won't suddenly disappear down a hole.

    We come from a time when vinyl was king and it was necessary to have a large van and trailer to transport large crates of singles and albums. These days, 100,000 songs sit comfortably on our hard drives. You can fit these into a shirt pocket! How times have changed.

    Technically, it's just about possible to have anything these days. Providing we have advance notice, we should be able to provide any specialist music you might need. But just for the record, our music collection is fully up-to-date with the latest charts.

    We also have a good selection of freestyle, house, drum and bass and other styles. We have just about everything anybody could ask for from the 00s, the 90s, etc. and going back to the 50s. We also have a large collection of older music from the 40s and even the roaring 20s, when music was considered to be 'thoroughly modern'. Our specialist genres include indie, rock, rave, trance, northern soul, 70s disco and funk, punk and new wave. We occasionally get asked to mix in drum and bass, happy hardcore and various other club genres. We are always happy to provide shorter sets of these genres, but please check with us before booking.

  • The Rising Cost Of Fuel

    April 22nd, 2022

    Nobody wants to see costs rising, but we have had to take the soaring cost of diesel into account. This has meant reducing our regular service radius from 70 to 50 miles and then increasing our mileage charges beyond this. Once these costs start to come down, we will lower our charges accordingly.

    We are almost nationwide these days as one of our agencies provides work which is reguarly in excess of 100 miles distance. We have recently travelled to Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, York, Coventry, Bournemouth, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Herefordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Nottinghamshire. Travelling large distances is quite normal for us and we have always considered ourselves to be a touring disco. We cover local events too!

    Here's everything you need to know about our coverage area and costs.

    If you are local to us here in south-east Lincolnshire, there is no additional mileage charge. "Local" means a radius of up to 50 miles from our base. This was recently reduced from 75 miles due to the rising cost of fuel. Our additional mileage cost has also increased in stages from 60p per mile to £1 per mile. So, as a rough guide, if you are in Nottingham, the additional mileage charge is £30. London comes in at an additional £120, depending on whereabouts in London of course. Manchester comes in at £180. People often book us from these areas. We really don't mind the extra distances but we really regret that we have to pass on these rising fuel costs, but we remain flexible, as always. (September 2022 Update: We are currently able to lower our fuel costs for the moment as the price of diesel has come down a little. We will continue to pass this on to our customers, so you know you are not paying over the odds. We never profiteer from these things.

    (Update 13-09-22: We have just been reduced our travel cost from £1 per mile to £80p per mile. Hopefully we will be able to get things back to the more regular 60p in the future.)

  • Reliability

    March 19th, 2022

    How reliable is 'reliable'? What can possibly go wrong? Does your disco come with a host of back-up guarantees? What if we took ill? Let's look at this more closely.

    When you look at what can go wrong, it generally boils down to two things: 1) The equipment, including transport; 2) The human factor. The laws of physics and mechanics loosely state that anything mechanical or electrical *will* break down sooner or later. It's a question of "When?" Hopefully, the following points will give you the peace of mind you need.

    We use a variety of modern, regularly tested and well-maintained equipment which is all of a high quality. These are all brand names which have a solid, road-tested reputation for performance and reliability.

    Our sound system is made by RCF, a highly respected Italian brand who have the reputation of being one of the industry leaders when it comes to public events. There is a whopping 6kW of sound if needed and it's all protected by the latest DSP technology. We rarely run this at more than half of its full output power, but it's there if needed and comes in handy at open air events and when performing in marquees where there is no sound reflection.

    We use a variety of intelligent lighting. Again, all made by leading brands, ensuring that we always deliver a good splash of colourful effects. We carry replacement bulbs! It takes a minute to change these should any fail, so there's no need to worry about this either.

    If our sound controller, laptop or hard drives fail, we have backups and it only takes a few minutes to swap them over, minimising any downtime, not that this happens regularly. In fact, we have only had one single breakdown in the last few years when a USB controller failed. Two minutes later and we were back up and running.

    There is one thing, however, which nobody can fully guarantee (Although we do have a system in place which should help.) The human element! Anybody can take ill. We personally know several very good and reliable DJs and we are in regular contact with DJ agencies. Not all DJs are booked every night and we will almost certainly be able to provide a replacement at very short notice, should this be necessary. We are also members of leading DJ forums and networks which specifically cater for such eventualities. Of course, it's still not an absolute 100% guarantee that, should the worst happen, we will be able to quickly arrange a replacement service, but it puts us in one of the most commanding positions possible should things go 'Pete Tong'.

  • Our Equipment

    February 27th, 2022

    We rarely get asked what equipment we carry. We simply state in our adverts that we have a superb sound system and a large array of intelligent lighting and that usually suffices. But, for the record, we are constantly striving to improve our setup, chopping and changing things along the way, as most discos do, but the light show always remains our most remarked up feature, with an array of scanning and colour-changing effects which move in time with the music.

    We have never been happy putting up a few flashing lights and let them run themselves. We like the light show to be responsive to what we do. A slow dance will benefit from having subtle colour changing lighting effects, such as slow scanners and mirrorballs, while any song with a beat makes the lights move, flash and change colour, perfectly synchronised with the music. They are all linked together by means of a system called "DMX", which gives you more control over the display. We also make subtle use of a fog or smoke machine which further enhances the light show. On average, we carry between 10 and 15 effects with us to most of our gigs, including a star cloth, illuminated scrims and uplighters. We don't have to use lighting of course as not every party requires this, but we like to create a good impression and will use whatever is necessary to suit each venue and every need.

    The sound: We have two systems, each comprising subs (bass bins) and tops. We never play either of these louder than you would want, but there is plenty of headroom with each system if it is needed, especially on our larger rig. We are always attentive to the needs of our customers. Many summer discos are performed in marquees and even open-air and so we are sometimes given prior instructions that the music will need to be turned down, or the bass levels reduced, in order to respect any neighbours.

    The larger speaker system we employ is an RCF stack, comprising 6kW of sub-bass and tops, thus being more than capable of delivering enough power for larger functions and halls.

  • The Cheesy Puff Test

    July 1st 2022

    This entry is really just a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously. We hope it makes you laugh as much as we did.

    We have devised a simple test which estimates how successful, or not, an evening's disco has been. Anybody can try this.

    It's something we came across by accident at a recent disco. At the beginning of the evening, before the guests had arrived, we noticed there was a little cheesy puff in the middle of the dance floor. Should we have done our bit for the environment and cleared this from the dance floor? Maybe some poor soul could have slipped on it and ended up on their back. There were other, more pressing matters to deal with, such as setting up the disco equipment, so we left this tasty little morsel on the dance floor, all by itself, and continued to set up our rig.

    The guests began to arrive, the music began to play and the drinks began to flow. It was a small party of just 50, but they were a lively crowd and we had most of them dancing at some point or other during the evening. You can't always make people dance at a disco, but enough guests were present to create a prefectly respectable party atmosphere and there was a minimum of at least two or three people on that dance floor, and usually more, for the duration of the party.

    Yes, we can breathe again, knowing that the party was a resounding success, but while we were dismantling our equipment as the guests were leaving, we noticed something unusual. That poor little solitary cheesy puff was still there, all on its lonesome, right in the middle of the dance floor. Had it been trodden on? Had somebody picked it up and placed it, thoughtfully, in a litter bin? Had it taken a short ride to a different part of the dance floor? No! It was still there, remarkably intact, in exactly the same part of the dance floor! "How come?" we wondered. "Had people seen the cheesy puff and danced delicately around it?", Were we watching a miracle, right before our eyes? We had to conclude that there hadn't been as many guests on that dance floor as we had thought, unless they had seen this little gougères and felt sorry for it and so left it alone. It was a small party after all. But we took something from this which we thought would make an amusing and possibly useful way to assess how successful an evening's entertainment has actually been. This is our rating system, and one which could be useful to other DJs.

    Well, we can only hope that all our discos are as successful as in the last example. No cheesy puff is safe! ;O)

    Without question, we believe we have found the definitive method of assessing whether a disco event has been a resounding success, or otherwise. Use this handy reference to judge for yourself. Go on, try it next time you are at, or are DJing at a disco. Also, if If the organisers ask you not to play any cheese, this could be your only way of including it in the procceedings! But do be careful which type of cheesy puff you use as some larger varieties could cause a few mishaps. Another tip, make sure everybody has eaten before you place your cheesy puff on the dance floor as it could be quickly taken as a tasty snack. Make sure you have a stock for such eventualities.

    Watch this space more great tips for your disco parties!

  • "Digital DJing" - What exactly does this mean?

    January 3rd, 2022

    The short answer, and the one I am tempted to give is "Not a lot." You see, "Digital" is a buzzword which doesn't really tell us very much, other than to suggest that the equipment we use is more 'state-of-the-art'. When DJs remark that they are "digital", it usually implies that their music is stored in an 'mp3', 'flac', 'wav' or other digital format and is either stored on a hard drive on a laptop or is streamed over an internet connection. This does not mean that the audio quality of their music will be superior to, let's say, vinyl or CD. An 'mp3' is a compressed audio format and is slightly lower in quality in terms of 'realism' than vinyl or CD, a factor which would almost certainly be unnoticeable at a disco. Would people would be able to tell the difference? Probably not, especially on most PA speaker systems and given the acoustics at most venues.

    This subject can get very deep and I won't devote any more time to it now as I am not currently wearing my geek hat and it's arguably irrelevant for a disco but, in simple terms, mp3s can, and 'should' sound very good and certainly more than adequate. It all depends on how they have been sourced and processed.

    Our music comes mostly in the lossless 'flac' and 'wav' formats, although we still have many older mp3s we are in the process of replacing. We 'can' tell the difference on our system, but rest assured, our mp3 files are all taken from high quality source material and sound as good as they possibly can.

    The disco equipment itself is mostly digital. Media players and laptops are of course very digital indeed! The loudspeakers we use contain very high quality digital signal processing and protective circuitry. Just research RCF Speakers and see what they are capable of.

    Above all things, digital is clever. VERY clever! It allows us to do so many things we wouldn't have dared to dream about when we were using our older analogue equipment. Modern equipment is much lighter too. Plus, our hard drives contain in excess of 100,000 songs. We are able to carry back-up hard drives which contain the same music should one fail. We carry a back-up laptop. In fact we have back-ups of just about everything, including our transport! Does that mean we are completely immune from equipment failure? Well, generally, yes, but the laws of physics clearly state that anything mechanical or electrical WILL break down sooner or later.

    The fact is, we are extremely well prepared for all of these things and probably more so than most other disco companies. The only thing we cannot guarantee is not getting ill. That's just the nature of being human, but there's more about that and how we tackle it in this blog entry.

  • About Your DJ

    October 15th 2021

    This is my chance to boast a little. ;O)

    My DJ 'career' began at the tender age of 18. I daren't tell you how long ago that was, but let's say that I am a more 'mature' DJ than some, though I am always told that I don't look (or act!) anything like my age. I'm sure that we take these things with us through life. Just Google well known DJs over 50 who still top the bill. OK, so I am not well-known, but I often feel like I am still able to top that bill after receiving the amazing feedback we've had in recent times.

    I have always loved DJing and seeing the amazing responses when playing the right music and getting the party moving, filling the dance floor with enthusiastic crowds who just want to party the night away. Is that all down to me? Of course not. You can't make everybody dance, no matter how hard you might try. The music is the key. What I do is secondary, but I need to understand the guest's needs and play in accordance with that, getting to know what the crowd like, etc. It's not difficult, but it's a real buzz.

    It's funny, since the pandemic we've just had, the world of disco entertainment feels very different, but in a positive way. Our customers and their guests seem to have a new-found enthusiasm for partying that I have not seen for a long time. We have witnessed a far livelier, happier atmosphere at most events, which just gives the DJ that additional rush which in turn helps things flow even better. The two years of lockdown have seen the demise of many discos, which is very sad, but we saw this as an opportunity and I have to thank my partner, Alison, for her foresight in this. She saw it as a time to invest. Equipment briefly became much cheaper and we purchased a lot of new gear so we were better future-proofed in our services.

    It feels like a long time ago since I worked the pubs and clubs in the Nottingham area, but I still keep my hand in the musical genres such as drum & bass, house, nu rock and indie. I love them all. I would class myself as a die-hard rave addict from the early 90s, but I still have a passion for northern soul and the 70s and 80s disco scene.

    Between the years of 1999 and 2010, I worked as a producer for the Music Factory Entertainment Group, home to Mastermix Records, Tidy Trax, Pure Energy and the famous Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers who had three number 1 singles in the 1980s. Here, I produced many remixes and mashups for all labels, with the exception of Tidy Trax. I produced two extended remixes of the Jive Bunny singles and many individual remixes and remix albums for their Mastermix label. I have also worked with The Chippendoubles, semi-finalists on Britain's Got Talent, producing their backing tracks.

    For me, performing at a disco is so much more than just playing music. I like discos to be seen as a show in themselves. Of course, the reality is that I am simply playing music and chatting a little on the mic. but there's an important job to do and I need to get things right for each party. As for my DJing style, my presentation is more laid back than some. I have always believed that the music should do the talking and not myself. I am not a DJ who talks incessantly between (or over!) every song. Most people don't want to hear the same endless and predictable waffle coming out of the DJ's mouth. They want somebody who speaks coherently and appropriately, somebody who is able to entertain and who knows how to fill a dance floor, but I also like to inject a little wit into the proceedings. I always do my best to get everybody involved and to come across as somebody who is friendly and approachable. I am there to serve the crowd!

  • How Far Do We Travel?

    August 31st 2022

    Since joining Poptop, one of the UK's leading entertainment agencies, we have found that our coverage area has expanded quite dramatically. Suddenly, we are finding customers booking us from all corners of the country.

    Many disco companies do not travel outside their local area and, likewise, some customers would not even wish to consider booking a disco from the other end of the country, which is understandable on several levels, yet we have regularly found enquiries and bookings coming in to us well in excess of 150 miles distance. We love this! It's not a problem for us as we get to see many interesting places and establishments in places we would probably never otherwise visit. Here's a list of venues we've visited this year alone.

    Bury St. Edmunds Masonic Hall
    Eastnor Castle, Hereford
    The Wilderness Reserve, Suffolk
    Christchurch Priory, Dorset
    The Lock Inn, The Olympic Park, Stratford, London
    The Granary, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire
    The Barn Restaurant, Terrington St. John, Norfolk
    Wootton Park, Henley-In-Arden, Warwickshire
    The Chruch of St. John The Divine, Croydon, London
    The Meridian Golf Club, Cambridge
    Titchwell Manor, Norfolk
    The World's End, Northampton
    Church Langley Community Centre, Harlow, Essex
    Duxford Community Centre, Cambridgeshire
    The Geordie Club, Nottingham
    The Splash, Louth
    Stubton Hall, Nr. Grantham
    Hotel Gotham, Manchester
    Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
    Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
    Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
    RAF Bodney, Thetford, Norfolk
    RAF Marham, Norfolk
    Chicksands Camp, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire
    Kingsthorpe Lodge Barn, Oundle, Northamptonshire
    The Radisson Hotel, Northampton
    Ferry Hill Farm, Lincoln
    Holme Pierrepont Hall, Nottingham
    Ilkeston Town Football Club, Nottinghamshire
    The Leonardo Hotel, Hinckley, Leicestershire
    Thursford Pavillion Gardens, Norfolk mention a few. We also cover many local venues.

    Having started life performing discos locally for more years than we might like to admit, we now find ourselves thoroughly enjoying travelling to new and exciting venues. From stately homes and castles, to pubs and clubs, sports centres, country gardens and farms and private houses across the country. It's a new and exciting aspect of our work, thanks to our agency work - and we love it! We suspect this may be due to the fact that there might not be quite as many discos around these days as there used to be before the pandemic, which is of course very sad, but we are more than happy to travel to your area. A small travel fee may apply.