Being a DJ can be the best job in the world, but it also tends to put you in some slightly bizarre situations...
DJing occupies a unique place in our culture and there's no other job quite like it. Part technician, part mood-enhancer and part children’s entertainer, it's a role that requires a particular type of person with a very specific skill set. Oddly, despite the social nature of the role, a substantial proportion of DJs prepare for their career by spending their evenings alone in front of their MacBooks, auditioning kick drums.
The unique nature of DJing means that things happen to DJs that simply don't have equivalents in other jobs. If a non-DJ doesn’t do their job properly, they have to stay late and sort that shit out. DJing is the only job in which you can get sent home early (DJ Shadow and Dennis Ferrer, for example) if your employer is not feeling your work. It’s also one of the few jobs where someone may come up to you mid-gig, critique your performance, suggest that they could do a better job, and then threaten to get their iPod from the car to do just that. This rarely happens to accountants or assistant retail managers. And no one ever barged their way into a restaurant kitchen to wave their mobile in the face of the chef, demanding they cook the recipe they have on their phone because it’s Megan’s birthday.
Equally there can’t be many other jobs where an observer feels the urge to introduce themselves simply on the basis that their brother-in-law, nephew or cousin has the same job. An essential DJing skill is knowing how to respond to the “Yeah, my brother in law is a DJ” opening conversational gambit. My technique in this situation is simply to thank them, then inform them what my brother-in-law does (he works in car insurance).
And are there any other jobs where people post pictures of their babies wearing the requisite piece of job-related clothing or using the relevant equipment, with the caption ‘Startin’ em young’? Do motorcycle couriers do this? Do butchers take photos of their toddlers wearing blood-smeared aprons and wielding a meat cleaver? Nope, it's just DJs.
Also, there really can’t be many jobs where you get to experience two conflicting emotions at the same time, when you drop a brilliant track and bask in the feedback from the crowd as though it were your own creation, whilst simultaneously knowing full well all you did was press play and mix it in.
However, there's one great thing that only DJs have which everyone else doesn’t - and that’s the first 16 or 32 bars of every track they play. Oh yeah, the punters might be having all the fun and action with their mates on the dancefloor, but it’s only the DJ who gets to hear the first 30 seconds of every track, secretly, in their headphones while they’re in the mix. In your face, punters!
Words: Harold Heath
Pic: Paulo Guereta/Wiki Commons