The Art of the DJ

Tony Security Leave a Comment

How a professional DJ can aid security

I personally think that a good DJ is one of the best security assets a venue can have. You may be thinking I’ve gone slightly nuts in talking about DJ’s as security assets but if you think about the role they play in a venue you may start to agree with me. The DJ controls the crowd. They have more influence over the behaviour of the masses than any security team. They can hype them up and slow them down and the good ones know exactly how. In this article I wanted to talk about this topic not just as an awareness piece for security staff but for venue managers and owners as well on the value of investing in a good DJ not just for entertainment but for overall experience of the customer.

A good DJ is hard to find

This has become more and more accurate in the past number of years. I remember when I started in security 18 years ago there were people working as professional DJ’s. When I say professional I mean they worked as a DJ full time and it was their means of making a living. They took pride in their job and treated it as a career. They invested in their equipment and they knew their crowd. I found that when the recession hit this started to change. Every former blocklayers apprentice turned into a DJ. They got a laptop in Argos and a YouTube playlist and undercut everybody to get the gigs and make some extra cash. All of a sudden professional DJ’s were being undercut by these guys and with venues tight for cash they had to compete. As a result many DJ’s left the business and I think the security of venues suffered because of this.

The DJ as a security asset

As I said above a good DJ is one of the best forms of security you can have whether they know it or not. They do far more than just play music. They control the mood and the tempo of the venue. I’ve had the pleasure of working security in venues with fantastic DJ’s and the pain of working with complete amateurs. One of the best I’ve seen is a guy called Vinny who works clubs around the country but specifically in the Galway area. He’s the best I’ve seen to read and control a crowd (although I still haven’t forgiven him for ending a Saturday night with Rage Against the Machine one time). He could always be relied upon to spot trouble from his vantage point and get security involved quickly. That’s what I mean by a security asset. Good DJ’s manage the crowd and can spot trouble early. They do the right thing when it starts and move the crowd on nicely afterwards as if nothing happened. It may seem nothing at the time but when it’s not done correctly it can make life more difficult for security.

The last song

One of the lesser appreciated flash points in a venue is the last song. The customers are as full of alcohol as they can get, the bars are closed,the music is about to stop and they have to prepare to end a good night. I’ve witnessed countless incidents kick off during or immediately after the last song. The right last song leaves people walking out the door happy and singing. The wrong one can kick it all off or turn people into absolute clowns. I worked in a major venue that finished every Saturday night with ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Adagio for Strings’ and the customers just strolled out the door. I’ve also worked in places where they ended the night with a song nobody knew or a really heavy song and then stopped the music. We would usually have a much harder time clearing the venue and dealing with a much worse attitude. People are influenced by what they hear and they react to it. Playing rebel songs as the least song might seem funny but it does make security’s job harder. One of the worst I think is those (mostly rural) venues that end the night with the national anthem. Everybody’s a hero after the national anthem (even those who don’t know the words) and they all want to stand up for their right not to go home at the end of the night.

My advice

For door supervisors: Spend some time on the DJ box. Get to know your DJ and their position. See what they see and how they see it. They can be a great asset and you should treat them as such. Drop by the DJ box a few times. Ask how the night is going and what the crowd is like. They often see things that we don’t and can give an early heads up.

For DJ’s(Especially new DJ’s) : Recoginse that you do more than just play music. You influence the whole venue. You can be an asset or an asshole. Be an asset.

For venue managers: Investing in a DJ who knows their art will cost you more on a nightly basis. It will also earn you more and deliver a better overall experience for your customer. It will also save you many incidents and potentially many claims. You get what you pay for. Pay for it.

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