Leave the DJ Alone
by Rob Wegner
Note: This was the most popular tip in the history of Disc Jockey 101.
During the 80's, I worked at a popular Phoenix nightclub called Zazoo. During its first two years, the club enjoyed an international reputation (i.e., a sister club was opened in London) that even lured Madonna to its Phoenix dance floor. However, like many nightclubs, the numbers started to decline over time and the owners were starting to ask questions.
Note: At this time, Zazoo was still playing Euro-dance/Italio-disco and attracting affluent customers from other states and countries. This story applies to that period and not its later years.
To determine the cause of the club's decline, the owners hired a well-known nightclub consultant. In addition to his consulting fee (which ran into the thousands), the owners paid for the consultant's hotel and transportation.
The consultant spent one week analyzing every segment of the club and its employees. He spent a considerable amount of time in the DJ booth; often looking over our shoulders and taking notes. As far as the DJs' performance, he never indicated an opinion. In fact, we were rather concerned that he was going to criticize the DJ's in his final report.
After the week passed, it was time to hear the consultant's report. The owners, managers, DJ's, and department heads (such as head bartender, head bouncer, etc.) attended the meeting. After discussing other departments, it was time to hear the consultant's opinion of the DJ's. It went a little like this:
"You have great DJ's and they do a good job. The problem - as far as they're concerned - is that your managers come into the booth and talk down to them. It puts them in a bad mood and it's reflected in their performance. If the DJ's are not into it, then your dance floor is not going to be into it. Tell your managers to save their remarks [to the DJ's] for after the club closes."
In other words, the club's owners paid thousands of dollars to be told (among other things) "leave the DJ alone."
On the flip side, there are temperamental DJ's that might misinterpret the consultant's opinion. In clubs, our job revolves around pleasing patrons/dancers, managers, and owners (and in some cases other employees). If there's anything to be learned from this tip, it's the knowledge that our state of mind is reflected on the dance floor. Do not allow petty criticism to disrupt your mood and/or performance.
(It should be noted that sales improved after the consultant's recommendations were implemented).