The Do's & Don't's of Dealing with DJs

By: Rick Andreoli

Knowing the DJ is wonderful. It can land you on a VIP list, get airtime for your favorite songs, and just make a more enjoyable evening. That said, unless you guys were buddies prior to him getting his first gig it's tough to approach the man in the magical music booth. And when you do make that initial contact, many DJs seem cold and distant. They clearly have their shields up.

Why? Because most tipsy partiers don't know the ins and outs of approaching a spinner. They're often rude without realizing it, and create obstacles for non-annoying clubbers like yourself. So with that in mind, we interviewed a number of our DJ friends for some suggestions.

Las-p-jet-01-02-11 (27) copy7 Things to Avoid Saying to a DJ:
1. "Play something we can dance to!"
Hello, rude! (And we're told this gets said all the time, under many different circumstances.)

Look, it’s not his fault you’re messed up and can’t move your feet, nor will that kind of attitude work. Approach the DJ with a smile and positive energy, and he may listen to a request. Say something like this and he'll definitely ignore you.

2. "Play something with a beat!"
Unless he’s playing Yoko Ono, it’s got a beat. See advice above on how to politely approach the DJ. Saying "Hi" first and then introducing yourself is always a good ice breaker.

3. "There’s this song, and it’s got bells and goes like this..."
This is not Name That Tune, he is not a contestant, and 2am is definitely not the time to try to figure out your latest musical obsession. Figure it out with your friends or just avoid doing it altogether.

Conversely, it IS okay to approach a DJ during a song you love (or just after you're done dancing to it) and thank him for his excellent taste. Then ask him what the name of that song was. He may even write it down if you're too loopy to type it into your phone.

LAS_P_VDA_08-22-10 (10) copy 4. "Everybody wants to hear it!"
Do they? Do they REALLY? Did you take a poll? Does EVERYBODY in the ENTIRE club REALLY want to hear it?

This is usually said when you ask for some song, the DJ says he already played it once or twice that night, and you stomp your foot and pout.

Here's the deal: You look like a baby when you do that kind of thing, and since he's obviously not going to play the song again you can use this opportunity to chat for a second. Smile and say (whether true or not) that you should have gotten there earlier. Ask him what he's got lined up for the night. You can also ask him where he's playing next, or see if you can get on his email list. DJs need an audience, so use that to meet the man. Don't forget to give him your name and shake his hand.

5. "When are you going to stop playing this crap?"
The appropriate response from any self-respecting DJ? "When S#!+ heads like you leave."

Yes, this does happen, and no, it doesn't garner positive results.

If you don't like the music, ask him to play something you do like. If he refuses, then leave. There are other bars you can visit. Hell, you can host a house party and play everything on your iPod. But if you say something like that there's no way he'll take you seriously.

6. "I'm peaking! I need to hear ____!"
If the DJ changed the music every time every queen started peaking they’d never get through a full song. Best advice: If you are peaking, don't speak to the DJ. You're probably sweaty and sporting crazy gay eyes. Just stay with your friends and forget about it.

7. "When are you playing Katy Perry (Rihanna, Kylie, Madonna, Britney, etc.)?"
Actually, this isn't a totally rude question, it's just a little lame. If you're asking about the hottest song or singer at the moment, chances are good the DJ will play it/her. But depending on the DJ's mood or the tone you present, it can sound slightly demanding.

Try asking if he's played that song or singer yet and, if not, is he planning to? This keeps the door open for conversation.

Jet 3_27_11-120 copy And the 1 Thing to definitely Say:
Remembering to be polite will go a long way with a DJ, who is usually bombarded with rude requests all night.

This isn't to say that DJs hold all the power, or that there aren't obnoxious spinners playing at clubs. But if you do your part to be cool, treat them with the respect that you would demand if they came into your workplace—and remember, you ARE in their place of work— it can offer a lot of fun possibilities in your future.

Photos courtesy of Eduardo Cordova Presents and Localities.TV.