DJs, Flights and Missed Club Nights

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 3 mins
Last updated 3 May, 2015

Volcanoes: the latest excuse for DJs who don’t turn up at gigs.

As I sit in my studio here in the Mediterranean, getting tunes ready for DJing at the weekend at the beach bar that’s – oooh – sux minutes’ walk away, my better half is stuck in the UK, due to an ash cloud hanging over most of northern Europe that’s drifted in from a volcano in Iceland and grounded all flights – quite unprecedented. It could, though, be her here and me stuck in the UK – a DJ stranded from his gig due to flight problems. And if it were me stuck somewhere else thanks to a flight issue, I certainly wouldn’t be the first.

I used to fly in DJs from all over Europe to play at my club in Manchester, and they regularly missed flights. Often I’d get a call from an agent with some convoluted excuse, that roughly translated as “he couldn’t get his shit together – sorry”. Other times the DJ would be on the flight but delayed, and so we’d be speeding into town straight from the airport with the poor guest DJ sorting his tunes out on the way to the gig – no freshening up in the hotel for you, Mr Superstar Spinner…

Too hungover to fly…

The only time I’ve ever missed a flight personally was actually the return flight from a DJ gig (in Dublin, as it happens). It was back in the days at the very start of the touring DJ scene, when DJs regularly slept in fellow DJs’ spare rooms rather than in hotels.

I woke up in this particular place when my phone rang, the light from its screen flashing in my eyes actually making me feel so nauseous after the long and heavy gig the night before that I knew I was going absolutely nowhere until a roast dinner and another full day with my feet firmly on the floor had passed… quietly. I just rebooked and took the hit.

Flights and DJing go hand in hand. Pre-2001, I remember DJs being waved through with their record boxes by their dozen at Manchester airport every weekend, each to a man worried whether those records were going to come off the plane at the other end. Ibiza’s airport was ridiculous for DJ spotting back them too, the aptly named DC10 club with its open terrace dancefloor having its sound system periodically drowned out by planes coming in overhead to land at the airport right next door, with this week’s superstar jocks on board.

Rave happening, no DJ required

Mind you, just for a second at the height of Superstar DJ Idiocy – I think it was 1998’s New Year’s Eve – one a certain big name UK DJ to play at his event in the local exhibition hall – get this – via ADSL!

Unbelievably really, a DJ who couldn’t be arsed to even get on a plane, doubling up his DJ set from a better venue somewhere else via a phone line! I’ve never really come to terms with that particular low point in the history of acid house. Glad that never, ahem, took off.

Nowadays, DJs can throw all their digital kit into their hand luggage, and get their sets ready on iTunes on the plane. Flights are more frequent, and cheaper, and flying to gigs doesn’t seem the romantic thing it once was. Mind you, digital gear and cheap flights can’t stop having to fly with hangovers, or being too wrecked to get on the plane in the first place – or volcanic clouds over whole countries!

The only thing that can stop me getting to my beach bar gig on Saturday is the weather – not because I don’t have a brolly, just because it won’t even be worth turning up if it’s raining because nobody else will…

What’s the worst DJ excuse you’ve ever heard? Have you ever messed up big time and had to blow out a gig? Let us know!

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