After my eight hour DJ set at the Ace Hotel this past week, I started thinking about the different places I have DJed throughout my career. From large amphitheaters to small, intimate clubs and everything in-between, I’ve encountered my share of people over the years. As a touring DJ in a major label band, I transitioned from the stage to the merch booth after each show, playing meet and greet as well as peddling the band’s tee shirts, (probably the best way to make money on tour). Not very glamorous when bombarded by dozens of concert goers at a huge venue, but for the most part not rocket science and the people were all pretty nice. At least when you’re on stage, no one is poking you with something and getting in your ear while you’re working. Now, being a club or bar DJ doing shows is something completely different. For the most part, people can get close to you, and think that just because you’re behind the decks, at the exact time they have something to say, you are to stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. Here’s an example of how that usually goes:
Me: (mixing two records, headphones on one ear, nods politely as someone approaches the booth)
Person: I like what you’re playing. Do you take requests?
Me: It’s James Brown “The Boss”, thanks. If it’s in line with what I’m playing tonight, sure.
Person: Oh cool. We’d really like to hear some Lady GaGa
Me: Unfortunately, this night isn’t about Top 40.
Person: What kind of a DJ are you if you don’t play Lady GaGa?
Really? Am I bad DJ because I don’t play Lady GaGa at that very moment? Two words: F#$k Off. You want to hear something, play it on your own time. How about listening to what is playing before coming up and asking me to play your prom or wedding song? People who come up to you while you’re DJing don’t consider you working. For that night or moment, they think you are hired by them, are their personal jukebox, and are commanded to let them hear what they want at this exact moment. Drop everything, rip the record off you’re playing and put on (insert bad song). Here’s a small list of things people have said to me while DJing throughout the years, and exactly what I was thinking and saying in some cases.
– I’m a DJ, can I get on? Great DJ Jazzhands, but I’m working, do I come to your gig and ask if I can play Skrillex?
– I’m a beat boxer, you have a mic? Oh sorry little Rahzel, I didn’t know that during cocktail hour people want to hear your version of “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin’ To F With”
– Play some Biggie, get these people “turnt up”. Oh really, is that what gets people “turnt up”? That phrase annoys me only second to people answering a question with: “What happen?”
– You have that song by that guy, you know, the rapper, it goes like this….. Oh hold on, let me turn down the whole sound system so I can hear you attempt to describe some horrible rap song.
– You know what would kill people right now? Reggaeton. Huh?
– Can you get the party started with that huge electronic hit with the accordian? It’s readily available on any website. Sure, I will just stream YouTube right in the middle of my set, shut off my equipment and get the party started. Riiight.
– At midnight it’s my baby boo’s birthday, can you stop the music and announce to everyone it’s his special day? Oh, it’s baby boo’s birfday? Well by all means, here’s a song for you baby boo. It’s called “Where Eagles Dare” by the Misfits.
– Can you play something with a beat? James Brown isn’t good enough?
– Can you play some James Brown? Actually relpied: You mean the James Brown that is playing right now?
– You have a mic? (Part II) I know all the words to “The Humpty Dance” and I want to rap it for the party. Ok stop what you’re doing party people, because this random dude is about to ruin the song and the vibe that you’re used to.
– It’s Dylan’s birthday, can I get some “Lay Lady Lay”? Sure, if you want everyone to lie on the floor and sleep until the next day, you got it.
– Can you play some Necro? I only wish I had brought some that night to play.
– Oh you don’t have that song? I have it right here on my iPhone. There’s a reason I don’t have that song, and there’s a place it should stay, on your iPhone.
– Can I just charge my phone with your plug (unplugs random plug, usually power cord) Were you facebooking too much tonight and drained your battery? Do you need to capture another photo of your Miller Lite?
– This is my nephew’s party and if you don’t stop playing this music, I’ll have you thrown out. My real response: Get your nephew over here and go drink some ice water.
– How come you don’t scratch more? As I am working doubles. What am I Pauly D?
– Come on man, go for it! Go for what, the bathroom?
– If I email you the track, can you play it (during my set). Sorry I didn’t have the “Seahawks Shuffle” bro, but are you emailing me records?
– Can I look though your records? Say what?
Those are just a few of the questions I get asked on a nightly basis. They weren’t made up, and sometimes happen multiple times an evening. Here is a quick guideline you should follow when asking a DJ a question. 1) If the DJ is mixing or has headphones on, be polite and wait until they talk to you. 2) Listen to what kind of music is playing, even if you just got there, then ask the DJ what type of party it is. 3) Don’t start your sentence with “you need to”, “why aren’t you playing”, or “Turn this stuff off.” This is a sure way you will be ignored or be asked to leave. 4) Fake compliments to get a request in don’t work. 5) Be repectful, DJs are working, and we work hard just like you. You wouldn’t like it if we came to your office on Monday morning and harassed you, would you? We welcome any more great requests you might have gotten during your gig here as well.
This about sums it up……
This guy has a great collection of request papers and napkins found on or around the DJ booth. Great for a laugh.