Please indulge me if you will for a few moments…

Imagine yourself in your regular workplace or doing what you’ve done for a living for years and years. You’ve built up a comprehensive understanding of the job, you know all the short-cuts, all the possible issues and the outcomes. You’re about as qualified as it gets doing the job you’re in….ok so far?

Now imagine what it would be like if someone new comes in and tells you exactly how to do the job, but they have no experience of the work and only a rudimentary understanding of what you do. You try to explain as politely as you can how their ideas won’t work as well as yours but it falls upon deaf ears. They insist you stick to their plan, and you’re then obliged to see it through despite your vast experience telling you otherwise. The job is completed but the work is way below your usual standards, and not a good advert for future clients to see…

Request lists! The above scenario is all about request lists that we DJs receive from clients prior to the gig. Some are pleasantly short and sweet, maybe 5 to 10 songs that they can’t live without. But others are truly comprehensive…we’re talking four or five pages of A4 in very small font! And many clients insist we play them all, even the collection of ballads they’ve included too (a real dance floor filler fest!) Speaking personally, once I am presented with a long list for an event, I find it difficult to put my own stamp on proceedings as I’m restricted by the music requests. I have the vast knowledge to put the requested tracks together appropriately, but ultimately it doesn’t feel like my own work at all. Add to that the fact that no party can ever be prejudged music-wise, it’s a recipe for a disappointing or disjointed event at best.

As if to confirm my theory, I recently performed at three wedding receptions on consecutive weekends at the same venue. The first one provided me with a long list of songs, a very personal choice of the bride & groom, with some less commercially-popular tracks. This soon became quite a challenge as the guests were unfamiliar with the music and consequently less inclined to dance. The second wedding reception was slightly better, although the couple insisted on lots and lots of novelty songs (the kind you’d hear at a children’s party!) and this grew tiresome for some of the guests even though I’d spread them out a bit. The third wedding reception was a total success….a full dance floor literally from start to end…just one request all evening from the assembled guests…and all because I had no strict set-list to adhere to, allowing me to ‘read the room’ like DJs of old used to do!!

So….the upshot of all this? Please learn to trust the DJ’s professional judgement at your event. No-one likes being told what to do!

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