Over To You: Should DJs Party Harder Than Their Crowds?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
DJ etiquette drink drugs partying
Last updated 30 August, 2017


It really isn’t a good look to be totally hammered behind the decks, but how bad is it really to have a couple of drinks and a little dance when you’re DJing? Bad enough to get one reader sacked, it seems…

Digital DJ Tips reader John writes: “I have DJed at a little club for the past few weeks. The age group is 21 to 80, and every night is different, so it’s a tough spot. So I finally figure the place out and I killed it tonight, making every age group happy and with dancing all night. Every night I have multiple people telling me how awesome I did. So at the end of the night tonight the owner sees me paying my bar tab.

“He says: ‘You’re drinking?’ ‘Uhh yeah,’ I say, ‘I had a few beers.’

“Fires me immediately! Then he goes on to say that I shouldn’t have left my DJ booth to dance with all the older ladies (the older ladies loved me, by the way). So I was dancing, having so much fun, and keeping everyone dancing for four hours, and I got fired for drinking a few beers!

“What? Didn’t Fatboy Slim once say the DJ should be 20% more drunk or be having 20% more fun than the crowd? I really found this unbelievable!”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Sounds like the kind of “house rules” you should have been made aware of right from the off. It’s pretty rare to see DJs having to pay for their own drinks, too! I think there is more going on here than meets the eye, and if I were you I’d ask him what the real reason for firing you is – after all, you’ve got nothing to lose.

On to the more general question of whether DJs should party as hard or harder than their crowds, most DJs I personally know tend to have maybe one small beer or two at the start of a set, without any downside. And as for dancing, I have personally definitely been known to hit the dancefloor towards the end of a night; as you say, punters tend to love seeing the DJ among them having fun (Sasha famously forgot to go back to mix a new tune in when doing that “back in the day”). Of course, there definitely are plenty of DJs who go for it, and go for it hard.

However, Fatboy Slim is, nowadays, teetotal, so do take his comments with a pinch of salt! Certainly DJs with big drink/drug problems tend not to last the course, or change their ways at some point. As ever though, we’re in the DJ and entertainment industry, not in brain surgery, so I think a bit of perspective and taking responsibility for yourself is going to be the key to your personal choices.

But I do think the boss who fired you was being harsh.

What’s your view on DJs partying as hard as or harder than their crowds? Do you do it? Any horror stories? Please share in the comments!

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