Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Why I No Longer Take Requests

When I first started going clubbing, I used to look forward to hearing new music on a sound system, alongside the tunes I already knew and could expect to hear (depending on the type of night). Maybe it's because I've always been interested in seeking out new music. Even if I wanted to hear a certain song, there is no way that I would tell the DJ to play it, i.e. tell him/her how to do their job….

Requests are one of those things that unfortunately rears its ugly head at any nightclub or bar, and have sadly become part of the job ever since someone had the bravado or dutch courage to go up to the DJ and ask for a particular song back in the late 20th Century.

Given that nightclubs and bars are an establishment where music will be played, I understand that people will want to listen to certain songs whilst they are out clubbing; some people will ask politely and wait patiently, and if told no, will accept the DJ's decision. Sometimes the request fits with the theme of the night, sometimes it doesn't.

However, I've noticed recently that more and more people are starting to think it is their God-given right to demand a track on the spot, and expect the DJ to play it there and then as if he or she is their own personal jukebox. If you don't play their song immediately, or have it in your crate, they start to moan, and sometimes resort to insulting you, purely because you haven't made them centre of your world, even if the tune they have requested doesn't fit with the music policy of the night, or if it's an inappropriate time to play their song.

I'm aware it comes with the job, but as a result of putting up with this for too long, I've decided to no longer take requests whilst DJ-ing.

I think one of the main reasons why I've stopped taking them is due to the sheer lack of manners that today's generation possess. Most of the younger generation seem to have no knowledge of the words "please" or thank you", and think it's okay to shout "oi!" instead of say "excuse me". I've been brought up to mind my p's and q's, so being rude to me will only result in you being ignored, or me returning the favour. Someone even had the cheek to complain the other day because I told them where to go after being insulted, but I digress...

Thanks to the iPhone, people can listen to their entire music collection on the go and listen to their favourite tunes over and over again….not to mention they also think it's acceptable to pass us their iPhone and tell us to play a song on there, if we don't have it in our crates.

Because a lot people like to listen to their favourite songs on repeat at home, they also think they can do the same in a nightclub too. I've never understood this. Why demand to hear "N***as In Paris" every 20 minutes, when I can hit you with a whole bunch of new (and classic) tunes that are on par, if not better?

To all the smart-asses reading, yes I know it got played it up to 12 times consecutively at the WTT concert, but I'm not exactly Jigga or Yeezy, and this isn't the fucking O2 Arena; It's just a normal nightclub.

Think about it as well. You may want to hear the same song every 20 minutes, but the rest of the club probably won't want to. If I'm to play a song up to 4 times in one night, a lot of people are going to think my selection is limited as well. If you arrived at the club late and I've already played your song, that's tough luck. I'm not going to run the risk of losing a dancefloor by catering to your individual needs.

Not only is it annoying having some drunk girl shout in your face for David Guetta, Rihanna, "Deep House", or other things like "something new" or "something good", trying to deal with multiple requests and trying to decipher your drunken speech can be pretty distracting. I mix between songs pretty quickly, and really don't have time to engage in a conversation (read: argument) with you about why you reckon "everyone will dance to this song" if I play it.

I get it though. We pretty much live in an entitlement society - today's youths (and young adults) have this flawed attitude of "I deserve this", "I'm owed this" or "I want this to happen my way because I said so".

Well kids, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but paying to get into a nightclub does not buy you the right to treat DJs or bar staff as your personal servants. You are not entitled to anything. You do not own me, nor do you have the right to tell me how to do my job. I sure as hell wouldn't turn up to your place of work, and give you advice on how to flip burgers, sell shoes, file reports, handle hedge funds, or perform something complex such as a root canal or heart bypass.

I appreciate that most punters are inebriated either from alcohol or other substances, but it still does not give them the right to treat the DJ (or any other member of staff in the club) poorly.

Probably the worst people are those who think they can command what the DJ plays, as it is their birthday. Not only is it a lame and desperate excuse for attention, it also reinforces my previous statement about today's entitlement society - everybody wants/thinks they deserve their five fucking minutes of fame. To the people who use this as an excuse to get their song played - there are probably at least 5 to 10 other people in the club who share the same birthday as you, so what makes you so special, really? Are you Jesus? Are you my mother? Are you my girlfriend? Are you even part of my DJ crew? No, so please scuttle back over to the corner and celebrate it by popping bottles with your friends and leave me the fuck alone. 50 Cent may have told you to party like it's your birthday, but please do it in a way that doesn't disturb me from doing my job, you spoilt little trollop.

Overall, I know that we cannot please everyone in the club. Like art, music is subjective, and some tracks or genres will not be to everyone's taste. I totally understand that. However please be aware that I am there to provide music to entertain the crowd as a whole, not specific individuals. Just because you want to hear a certain song right now, doesn't reflect the opinion of the whole club. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but please be aware that the universe does not revolve around you, no matter how much you've paid to get in, no matter how good you may look, or many bottles you've ordered on table service.

Until the majority of modern society grasps the concept of being polite, or understanding the concept that a DJ is not a human jukebox, the only person that can actually request a song is the person that's paying me to DJ.

Don't like it? You have two options - go home and cradle your iPod, or man up, stop whinging and just concentrate on dancing and having a good time….Regardless of whether I've just played "N***as In Paris" 20 minutes ago.


  1. Yup. This is pretty much why I fell out of love with playing music that could make people dance. The people just got too damn demanding, rude, aggressive & overall just AWFUL.

    I was a jobbing commercial DJ with a big leisure outfit in the North East of England around about the time Kylie's 'Can't get you out of my head' arrived on a WhiteDisc, and I was getting pestered for it even while it was still playing. "But it's still playing!" I'd explain. "I know" customer would say. "so put it on again next". Enraged & frustrated by this I made a copy of it & played it back to back with itself seamlessly FIVE times in a row.

    Intensely proud of my nasty dirty trick I stood & waited for complaints to arrive. By 3/4 the way through the 5th play nobody even seemed to have noticed. I could've cried.

    If it wasn't folks demanding I dropped everything to play their shite choice of music, it was folks demanding I do that or they'd write to the head office & make up some story about how I spat in his/her face (yeah that kinda happened - the letter, not that I spat at a customer)... eesh.. it's enough to make you wanna go "you know what? It's just not worth the aggro".

  2. BTW nowadays according to another DJ I know.. see also "CAN I PLUG I PHONE/iPOD IN?". :-O

  3. I have been a DJ for 20+ years in all venues. There are very few venues that I will accept requests. We are hired as professionals to play for the crowd. We do not need the crowd dictating what needs to be played...we are quite capable of filling a dancefloor without the un-needed headaches of the whiney entitlement crowd. There needs to be a shift in the publics perception of what a DJ is hired to do.....To be a Music Professional and NOT anyones personal ipod or jukebox!

  4. This is a great article. I have recently played a private college party at a nightclub and I feel so worn out because of problems with requests. I had a 4-hour set and for the first hour was just warming up, because people were arriving, getting drinks and chatting to their friends. Eventually this guy comes over after an hour and asks if I can play some 'niche' cos it's good and will get the crowd going. I say I'll be able to play some but not until later as people are still arriving and nobody's dancing. He comes back a litle later and asks for the same thing, and asks if he can plug his phone in. Wow. This is so disrespectful. I tell him he can't do that. He comes back a third time and says none of his friends are dancing to what I'm playing - I need to put 'House Every Weekend' on to get the place jumping. At this point the dancefloor is getting crowded and I'm building the tempo steadily, but this guy is now getting to me. I start doubting myself - am I playing the right stuff? Are people getting bored with what I'm playing? So I then switch tack - BIG mistake. Not only does this throw my rhythm but because I've increased the energy early I've left myself with fewer options, both now and later.

    I managed to get control back but this guy was still on my mind. I guess I'm still pretty unconfident as this is only my third gig after a few years off from DJing. Anyway, another hour goes by and all is well but then people start appearing asking me to play Skepta, Stormzy, bassline etc. These people reappear constantly through the night. Problem is I don't have much of that. I tried playing a bit but I think that just made things worse - it kept them coming back to make new requests. I then had one girl ask me to play something 'modern', even though I'd been playing modern stuff (a track released less than a year ago was on at the time). I pointed this out and she said 'yeah but, I mean like can you put on some bassline or grime'. By this point it felt like all this crowd wanted was an absolute grime-fest, which knocked my confidence. I knew if I didn't play grime I'd be getting people back to my booth, even though the dancefloor were enjoying what I was doing.

    Long story short I let myself get pulled around far too much tonight, because I buckled to requests. This meant I was chopping and changing a lot, which meant I often found myself getting into corners. I rescued the last hour-hour, but even then, right at the end, rather than just finish my set organically I decided to play a grime track which had been requested a couple of times. I guess I was just trying to please everybody. So I put this track on and there were a few shouts and whistles but then the sound guy cut the music after the first couple of seconds! I put that down to a miscommunication between him and myself as to what the last song was and when the sound would be cut, but it didn't exactly look good on me. Eugh. Basically what I've learned tonight is to stand firm, trust in your own experience and intuition, not let other people gt to you or pull you around, and that some people will be rude/aggressive but you can't please everybody. And these people aren't worth pleasing anyway. There definitely is a strong element of entitlement in some people which I've noticed tonight. Some people were polite with their requests, but too many were not.

    1. Yeah mate. Same thing happens to me a lot. I play at this pub in my town. Friday or Saturday we have karaoke nights, and after that we play music. Anyway. The regular "djs" (not really djs but jukeboxes that hit play) rarely manage to get the crowd going... it is all the same music over and over again. So I come and freshen things up a bit, people are dancing and every time some bloke or bitch sais that the music sucks. So I just flip them, make up excuses etc. Some drunk chick wanted me to play tarantula by pendulum... I postponed her until my colleague asked me to play it... it went well though and I made a dnb miniset which was kind of cool. We rocked it until 4-5 am. So just ignore the blokes if there are more than three quarters of the people dancing. You can't please anyone and people are indoctrinated with crappy music.

  5. Bar DJ wanted in London? DJ Required is an online DJ agency. They provide DJs, Mobile Disco, Photography and Video services for any occasion. They supply Bars, Clubs and Pubs with Dj's, Photographers, and Cameramen. DJ Required also supply for private hire and other Occasions.

  6. Absolutely agree with you. I think I'll stop taking whishes from now on...