Tag: Dj anecdotes

Hands Free…

Mastermix Producer Jules Little shares his most cringeworthy DJ experience…

2002 or 2003, DJing in a packed, VERY well known venue on Broad Street, Birmingham’s “Golden Mile”. It’s Saturday night, the venue is at capacity (1300), one in, one out, party in full session. Now the downside of having a full night is that you don’t get the time to talk to your guests much when they ask for tunes, and not wanting them to feel ignored I hired a student to help me across the night, take requests, play music whilst I crossed to stage etc. His name was Nugget, total party guy, perfect! It is wise to point out for the purpose of this story that I wore a head mic as “get your hands-on the air” carries more sway when you have the ability to do it yourself!

This particular night the whole place was bouncing, I felt like the conductor of a large orchestra of people, magnificent.

Nugget approaches me. “Jules, can you read this?” as hands me a filled in request slip. I look at it, nothing apparent to me. I turn it upside down, still nothing. I flip it over, totally indecipherable.

“Who gave you this?” I asked him still struggling to comprehend the scrawl that emblazoned the paper before me.

“That lady over there!” says Nugget as he points to the lady waiting patiently at the bottom of the 3 steps that lead to the raised DJ booth.

As I don’t drink when I am working generally, I have always found it amusing when people ask me for records trying to sound sober when they are anything but. Writing when drunk however, that is just art! I approach the lady to ask her what it says.

I however had neglected to turn off my head mic….

Especially important as you know that to talk to somebody in a noisy environment requires you getting very close to each other, mouth to ear almost…

“Hiya!” I approached her cheerily. “I’m sorry I can’t read this. In fact, I would go as far as to say the in all of my years DJing, it’s probably the worst handwriting I’ve ever seen. You must be having a great time & downing a few!”

(Remember that head mic, still switched on…. And now, a breakdown in a track)

“In fact, I’d say REALLY DRUNK! (Remember that mic). What have you had?”

Then it happened. Mid track breakdown with microphone on & 1300 people within earshot of the powerful sound system.

“I’ve had a stroke!!!”

You know that moment when your stomach hits your feet? I do!

A huge gasp went throughout the venue, then a huge cheer! The lady then realised it was on the microphone too. She took it in good spirits, Jack Daniels from memory, I paid for her drinks all night!

True Story.

 We reached out to our fellow DJs on Facebook to ask them for their funniest and most embarrassing tales from the DJ booth… here are just a few!

To Dance or Not To Dance… That is the Question!

A Valuable DJ Lesson Learned by Mastermix Label Manager Richard Lee!

I have been a professional DJ for over 20 years now and in that time I have done almost every type of DJing there is! Youth Clubs, Kids Parties, Weddings, Birthdays, Retirements, Anniversaries, Nightclubs, Theme Nights, Awards, Stadium Announcing, Radio…you name it…I’ve probably done it!

Theme Nights

Of all the work that I have done it is probably theme nights that I enjoy the most. Why? Because most people attending are coming to enjoy that specific genre of music so you don’t have to worry about different age groups wanting different styles of music so you can be more experimental with your song selection and create a really exciting playlist which the audience will lap up as each track takes them back to their youth. There can be nothing more fulfilling for a DJ then watching their audience enjoy a rollercoaster ride of musical memories created from the music they are playing.

The Scenario

My particular favourite theme nights are the 50s/60s & 70s nights. Many years ago I started DJing for a group of people who arranged a Golden Oldies night to raise money for a local charity. The music was mainly 60s with a few 50s classics & Rock & Roll tracks thrown in as well as the occasional 70s tune to keep the night flowing. 20 years later and that same night is still going strong!

This night is so unique! The audience hasn’t changed much in all those years and we have become like one big family. I know exactly what tracks will work and when. They will dance to whatever I play and work with me to ensure the most amazing night is had by all and that each event pushes the boundary set by the previous one.

A recent event though caused me to realise that you never stop learning in this game…even after 20 years! It was a 60s night with a few 50s & 70s thrown in…perfect! I’ll give them a similar show to my tried & tested one as I know that gets them dancing all night. Once the guests had arrived and settled themselves I decided the time was right to start playing a few tracks to get them dancing before the pie & pea’s supper!

The Problem

All the big hits were coming out – ‘Baby Love’, ‘Oh! Pretty Woman’, ‘Heaven Must Have Sent You’, ‘Hold Back The Night’, ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’, ‘Move It’, ‘Runaround Sue’, ‘I’m Into Something Good’, ‘From Me To You’…and did they dance? As they say in Yorkshire “Did they eckers like!”.

What was going on? This was the same set that I played only a few weeks ago and they were dancing from the first track. Was it too loud? No! I always check that people are able to hold conversations around the room, especially when it’s an older audience! Were the lights in their eyes? No! I’d used subtle LED lighting to create a colour wash that was bothering no-one…so what was the problem?

I played some of the biggest hits of the 50s, 60s & 70s and no-one danced. Right…that’s it! I texted the wife to inform her that this would be the last time I would DJ at this event due to no-one responding to the music I’m playing. I was officially having a ‘showbiz strop’.

My first set ended and the lights went up in the room to signal the start of the pie & peas supper. The guests were out of the blocks in order to be amongst the first to get their food. So they are all still alive then…I was beginning to worry!

I slumped off the stage and headed for the exit in order to get some fresh air and clear my mind, especially as I had another 2 hour set to come.

The Explanation

As I approached the exit I was confronted by an elderly gentleman and his wife. “Are you the DJ?” he asked. “Yes…yes I am” came the nervous reply as I waited for the barrage of comments telling me that ‘I’m not very good as no-one danced’ or ‘It was too loud which is why no-one danced’…but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The couple wanted to congratulate me on playing “the best selection of 50s & 60s they have heard in a long time”. They commented on the level of the music and that the lights were perfect as they don’t really like “all those flashing lights”.

I was shocked but before I could soak up what the couple had said I was approached by another gentleman who also wanted to congratulate me on some wonderful music and wanted to apologise for him and his wife not dancing as they had both “recently had hip replacements”.

A third man also wanted to comment on my music and also offered an apology for not dancing but he “fell of his bike recently and his back still hurts”.

Suddenly the penny dropped and the light bulb above my head glowed into life! I wasn’t a rubbish DJ after all…I was still ok! The reason no-one had danced was simple. In the words of the organiser “We are all getting older!”.

The Solution

So my ‘showbiz tantrum’ was all for nothing. I wasn’t a bad DJ – but I still needed to learn a valuable lesson! Just because people aren’t packing a dancefloor doesn’t mean that they aren’t enjoying themselves. By taking care with the music, sound level & lighting, I had managed to create the perfect environment for many of the guests who were content to sit and enjoy the music whilst still being allowed to engage in conversation with their fellow guests…often to reminisce about one of the songs being played.

Even after 20 years of experience I was still able to receive a lesson in life and DJing!

I texted my wife to inform her that I wasn’t retiring from DJing just yet and would probably be performing at their event next year after all…which prompted the simple reply…’x’