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MIDI v VST plugin etc

I am a total newbie to all of this so I thank you all in advance for your patience.

I'll explain my setup / plan and the issue I'm facing and hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

I'm planning an event at which I will doing a DJ set and want an impressive but highly automated lighting set. I have no problem with putting in the programming time but I need help with the configuration.

I'll be running one laptop that is purely dealing with the audio side of things; I am using Rekordbox and a DDJ-400 controller, I'm comfortable with how this all links to my speaker system etc and I have all of this working nicely.

Lighting-wise - unless there is a compelling reason not to my preference is to run this on a separate laptop - first it means I can have the screen "always on" rather than flicking between sound / lighting, secondly it gives me an ultimate fall back (I will have two laptops so if one of them has a problem I have an emergency back up plan of running everything on one).

I have downloaded / registered EMU, I have the USB Pro DMX interface and I am happy with patching fixtures etc. Therefore I am left with the following two issues:

1) At the simplest level, I want to be able to use a foot pedal to step through my banks / programs. As I don't have EMU-specific hardware with a foot pedal input (like there is for DMXIS) how do I go about sorting this? Do I need a midi hardware interface with a pedal that maps to the "next program" functionality etc? If so what sort of interface  / connectivity do I need?

2) I guess this is at once connected and separate from the above; I'm happy with programming the lighting shows and using the manual tempo functionality etc but I would really much rather have the tempo-matching automated. The options seem to be MIDI mapping or the VST plugin and I am struggling to understand what hardware / software I need in each instance and how it pulls the audio information from the laptop with RekordBox on it and which is the better option. I can't work out whether a straightforward MIDI interface will do both this and the pedal requirements above, or whether I need to be downloading  / buying Ableton Live etc and how all of this hangs together.

If someone can point me in the right direction I would be hugely appreciative, thank you!

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