Friday, June 15, 2007

COLUMN: Etiquette

Last Saturday, I woke up on the wrong side of life.

The cats came in meowing. I hated their stupid meows. The sun was beaming in through the windows. I hated the stupid sun. Then the sun went away and turned to rain and I decided to hate the rain, too. I turned on the TV. I hated the stupid remote control, the stupid TV, AND the stupid TV show all at the same time.

It was, as they say, a bad day. No reason whatsoever. Just a bad day.

The kind of day to maybe lose yourself in a book. To shut the doors, leave the phone unanswered, pretend you're not home, and wait for the funk to pass. A day to while away by yourself, and to avoid all humanity lest you have to actually interact with it.

The kind of day you CERTAINLY don't want to spend DJ'ing at a packed dance club.

DJ'ing is a hobby and a passion. I don't do it to get rich. Every penny I make at my DJ gig goes right back into music and equipment to do it better the next weekend. It's all about the rush. The moment when you mix into the right song -- at the right moment -- and the crowd goes wild. Talk about a God complex all you want, but in that moment, I am the dancefloor savior, and when the crowd screams, it's the ultimate hobby payoff. Some people collect stamps; I mix records.

Still, it's no fun when you're in an unexplainably cranky mood and it seems like everyone in attendance is there to methodically step on your every last nerve. That's why I decided, standing in that DJ booth at approximately 1:35 a.m. on that Saturday night/Sunday morn, to use my column this week for an education in DJ request etiquette.

• Do not poke the DJ. When the DJ stands in the booth with headphones clearly on and hands clearly doing important DJ-related activities at the mixer, the DJ is busy. Poking the DJ in the leg, arm, or elsewhere will NOT speed up the process. The DJ does not want to chat. He is busy bringing sexy back. Unless you're a cute girl, in which case the DJ will likely figure out a way to make time for you. Still, spare us the poking. We see you there, we're just a tad busy.

• The DJ takes requests. He just might not play 'em. The DJ is there to put as many people on the dancefloor as possible. If the booties do not shake, the DJ does not have a job for long. So it depends on your request. If it's a good song that'll pack a floor, it'll probably happen.

• "Will you play my song NEXT?" Hmm. Let me think. Umm, no. You might think of a club DJ as a guy who gets paid to sit and push "PLAY" all night long. That's not far from the truth, but there really IS science involved. As a DJ, you're constantly building sets, increasing tempos, and strategizing out your dancefloor. At any given time, I've got the next 6-7 songs already in place and ready to go.

• "Hi. It's my birthday/bachelorette party/anniversary/my people's religious and-or cultural holiday, so you need to play [insert the world's most obscure song here.]" Happy birthday, wedding, anniversary, Kwanzaa, etc. I am truly honored that you've chosen to spend it at my club. However, if I play your lame request, everyone will leave. Then so will you, 'coz nobody likes an empty club. Especially the DJ.

• "Will you let me say something into the microphone?" Not if hell freezes while pigs fly. Not even if you walked in with a letter of recommendation from Casey Kasem. Heck, not even if you walked in WITH Casey Kasem. Knowing my luck, if I handed you the microphone, even the most innocent of clubgoer would use that precise moment to utter some woofer-blowing lupine howl and/or racial epithet.

• "Hi, I'm a guy, and..." Next.

• "No, seriously, I brought this CD I burned, it's me and my boy freestyling over the theme from 'Knight Rider,' and if you bump it, it'll be off the chain fo real!" Go away.

• "Me and my friends are leaving, so can you play our song soon so we can split?" Yes, yes, of course. Let me expedite your departure from my club. Because it would sure be awful if you were forced to stick around, buy another drink, support our club, and spend time on my dancefloor. Especially if you and/or your friends are cute girls. Boy, I sure hate that.

• Interpreting Request Responses: If a DJ says, "Let me see what I can do," this is DJ for "No." If a DJ says to you, "Ooh, let me see if I brought that song," this is DJ for "I definitely didn't bring that song."

I'm kidding (mostly). But you get the point. I swear I'm not as jaded and ungrateful as I sound. There's a reason I sacrifice my weekends for the heart and soul of the dancefloor. I love it, and I love and appreciate everybody who comes out on the weekends to support us. Well, except that dude who threatened to kill me when I wouldn't play bagpipe music for him on St. Patty's Day. I hate that dude, seriously. Everyone else has my love... even when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

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