The dancers take their formation, the DJ hits the sweet spot, and the party is gathering steam. As the DJ rummages through his maze of vinyls, the music abruptly shuts off. Confused and bewildered clubbers look up to see the overzealous twat behind the booth responsible for ruining the night. In his drunken stupor, he has somehow managed to disconnect the mass of cables so carefully assembled hours earlier. While he represents a minority of the few lucky enough to be invited behind the DJ booth, the presence of people there can still affect the DJ and balance of the party. After speaking to and gathering commentary from multiple DJs and clubbers alike, we highlight some of the issues of visiting the DJ booth.
For pedestrian clubbers, access to the DJ booth can seem like nothing more than a pipe-dream. Aside from promoters and workers, access should be granted on a singular criterion: invitation. This unwritten code has been established for a reason. The booth is the private work space of the DJ who requires a comfortable setting, devoid of strangers. Many DJs we spoke to expressed a desire for close friends to join them in the booth; it's great to show support and exchange quick pleasantries, but boundaries must be respected.
Overextending your stay can quickly turn a gesture of encouragement into a pesky nuisance. Conversations tend to get louder and more obnoxious, cutting away at a DJ’s concentration. It is important to remember that while you are having fun, your friend is being paid to work. In fact, the best place to show your support is on the dance floor stirring up some groove.
Many DJs also voiced their concerns about the physical constraints of smaller venues. When intoxicated fans crowd a small booth, equipment can inadvertently be damaged. Whether sober or intoxicated, touching equipment is strictly forbidden. It makes a jockey’s job even more difficult when trying to maneuver through a zoo of people in a tight space. Pushing, grabbing or any other physical distraction quickly becomes an annoyance and must be avoided.
When there is a stream of people making their way to the booth, the flow of a party can be disrupted. Lines are formed and dance floor space becomes disorganized.. One of the pillars of dance music culture that draws people in and makes them come back is based on a principle of equality. Yet, when only a select few members of a "club" are allowed to dance with the DJ, a certain hierarchy is established; one where the friends of the DJ are literally placed on a pedestal above those of the general population. Simply being friends with the DJ does not make you more superior to other party-goers, and it is important to be mindful of that. A night is most successful when all attendees feel accepted and equal to one another.
Witnessing a friend mix at a fun party can be a gratifying and memorable experience. Beyond access to the DJ booth, there are other perks such as reduced entry and free drinks to name a couple. While you may feel eager to converse with them, there may be more appropriate times for congratulations than in the middle of their mix. Keep in mind that your friend is working and needs to focus. Remember, DJs love for nothing more than people to dance and enjoy the music.
- Anh Nguyen & May Nguyen
- Photo by: Camille Blake