I can’t DJ for shit. I used to be able to DJ… back in college when DJing meant playing a record and then fading it into another record. But DJing today? That’s a different game. Too many knobs, dials, flashy lights, slidey switches, computers and other complicated stuff.
Watching a good DJ mixing and keeping a room moving is like watching a piece of performance art. The only problem with artists is when they become ‘artistes’ and stick their heads up their own asses.
There’s a number of DJ memes that crop up on my Facebook page fairly often. And without fail, they’re DJs slagging off punters. Now, I know that dealing with the public is a tough job – the public are a bunch of dickheads… I know, ‘cos I’m one of them – and probably one of the worst. And dealing with drunken, drugged-up members of the public is even more difficult. But that’s the job, right?
I mean, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be on stage, getting free drinks, free drugs and fucking hot DJ groupie chicks that are out of your league without also dealing with the other people who come into the club. Clubs have hot girls and idiots in equal proportions. In fact, sometimes the hot girls are the idiots, but we cut them some slack because… well, because they’re hot.
Let me give you and example…
Let’s call this ‘an overheard conversation in a popular Bangkok nightspot’. A couple of girls approach the DJ and request a track. It’s completely the wrong track for the event, it’s a house DJ and the girls ask for something commercial like Rihanna. The DJ laughs at them and says, “If you want shit like that, go to _______ Club.”
Now, I’m hazarding a guess here, but those two girls probably did go to _______ Club. And they probably did get to listen to commercial shit. And they were probably surrounded by a thousand other people because the club that’s playing the commercial shit is packed. But that’s a different story.
The girls’ musical taste isn’t the issue here. What is the issue is the attitude of the DJ. His job is to entertain the guests, not insult them. He’s an ambassador for the club. And he’s an employee. Which means he just pissed off two guests by being rude to them. And if this were an isolated incident, it’d mean nothing. However, it’s not. It’s a trend amongst certain DJs to treat guests as nuisances.
This is where I finally get to the point of the title; The DJ Barista
As I said, I can’t DJ. I don’t know how to synch, mix, scratch or any of the other magic they can do. But I can make awesome coffee. You know those huge $2000 chrome machines in decent coffee shops? Well, I’ve got one of those at home. I can knock out cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos, decaf, half fat, iced… in fact any kind of coffee anyone could wish for.
Imagine for a moment then that a club is a coffee shop. And the DJ is the barista (and the coffee machine is the decks… you got that bit, right?) A guest approaches the counter and asks the staff for an iced mint choc chip frappuccino. And the barista laughs and says, “If you want that shit, fuck off to Starbucks.”
Because for real coffee connaisseurs, there’s only one way to drink coffee and that’s a thick, strong espresso. And for real DJs, there’s only one type of music – and that’s the sort they play. Anything else isn’t ‘proper’ music. It’s decaf. It’s diet Coke. It’s Nigerian cocaine. Basically it’s crap.
Guests that request a track that was played half an hour ago. Guests that like hip hop not house or vice versa. Guests that request a track that’s unsuitable. Guests who use their mobile phones instead of dancing. Guests who don’t dance. Guests who request a track before they leave in half an hour’s time. Guests who don’t sing the words when the DJ drops the volume. All these people (and more) make the DJs’ ‘You’re-a-twat List’ (it’s a real thing).
DJs have become grumpy f*#kers
Maybe because for them it’s just another work night. But for the guest, it’s a night out… maybe their only night out that month. They don’t work in a club. They aren’t DJs. They’re members of the public (and as we know that means they’re dickheads). But they’re paying guests in a club. We need to cut them some slack for their ignorance and lousy taste. They (ultimately) pay the DJs’ wages. They want to party. They don’t want a thick espresso, they want a crappy, sweet, hazelnut latte with whipping cream.
It doesn’t matter if they make it onto the ‘You’re-a-twat List’. It doesn’t matter that they don’t know DJ Booth Etiquette. Being a DJ is a cool job. But it’s not a license to be a dick. You can mentally put people on the list and still be nice to their faces.
I know right now, most DJs reading this are saying, “Johnny Dope! What a FUCKHEAD! You don’t understand what it’s LIKE! The same stupid people every day! Asking the same stupid questions!” You’re right. I don’t have to deal with that. I would imagine it’s the same process that turns super-hot girls into bitches. Getting hit on day after day must get tiring. And it’s probably difficult to be polite when turning down yet another guy. But every guy knows how lousy it feels to get blasted by a super-hot girl for the sins of all the losers who approached her before you.
But before you start a lynch party and club together to beat the shit out of Johnny Dope, let me tell you something else. Those guys in your lynch party? They also bitch about you! That’s right. There’s not enough camaraderie between DJs. If there were, you’d have unionized and you’d be able to dictate to the club managers a decent amount per set… and a green room… with a Jacuzzi… and a drug allowance.
A Tough Job
Some of you use vinyl, some use CDJs, and some use laptops. And everyone bitches about the other ones who use a different system to them. Of course, not all DJs are going to be as skilled as you. Some of them can’t do what you do… That’s why you get paid differently and why some get residencies and others are living from gig to gig. That’s why some of you are fucking models and others are trying to get freebies from off-duty hookers that think DJs are cool.
Some of you make eye contact with the crowd. Some of you get your heads down and don’t look up until the set is over. Some of you dance like maniacs to your own sets. Others wear sunglasses to hide those dilated pupils and barely move. Some of you have a sneaky joint or a rail in the DJ booth. Some of you put on a mix-tape and fake it because you’ve got enormous tits and some club managers don’t care. Each to their own.
Saying you’re ‘old skool’ because you don’t use a computer is like buying a car without power steering because you like to drive ‘old skool’ style. Sure, you can do it, but why would you? Do you still beat your clothes with a rock by the river to avoid those new-fangled washing machines?
Computers make DJing easier. They make all jobs easier… except, perhaps, for that guy with one arm who drags himself down Sukhumvit every night. Sure, it’s got a sync button, and that means that newer DJs don’t have to learn that skill. But you’re beginning to sound like your dads… “Back in my day, we didn’t have a sync button. We had to do it all by ear. And we had to carry boxes of vinyl to the gigs… Fifteen miles… In the snow.”
I guess what I’m saying is, DJs have a tough enough job as it is. A little cooperation and understanding might make the industry a more pleasant place to work for everyone. And maybe, just maybe, the next twat who asks for Justin Bieber will get a “Sorry, that’s not going to fit in my tech-house set, mate.” instead of a “Get the fuck out, you spunkbubble!”
Not everyone likes espresso. But everyone likes a happy DJ.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Johnny Dope is written for entertainment purpose only. Bangkoknightlife.com does not encourage buying, selling or using drugs in any way.