Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Overthinking

I’m a DJ – I beg you, please stop asking for requests

You don’t ask Mark Rylance to change his lines in a play, so why should I switch songs mid-set to play your favourites, asks DJ Oliver Keens

Wednesday 07 June 2023 16:12 BST
Comments
DJ Oli Keens in his natural environment
DJ Oli Keens in his natural environment (Supplied)

The theatre world has been up in arms lately amid a rise in bad behaviour from audiences. People have been attending shows uproariously drunk, sometimes fighting and generally howling and screeching like foxes shagging. And while it’s obviously a grim situation, I feel obliged to point out that actors experience a fraction of the bad behaviour that DJs do. Mark Rylance, for example, has never been asked to drop a Shakespeare soliloquy when he’s performing Beckett. Beverley Knight has never been asked where the loos are while she’s onstage. James Norton has never had a demonic guy out of his mind on drugs tell him he’s s*** and that he’s going to “f*** up” in front of everyone.

That happened to me in Brighton in the early 2000s, at maybe one of the first handful of times I ever played a club. I love DJing and I’m sure I always will. But it’s sad to say that – even on a good night – it can be a wildly confrontational and aggressive job, and a strangely lonely one, too. It’s a situation that’s absolutely not helped when people ask for requests.

You really can perfectly split humanity between people who will or won’t ask a DJ for a song. To the vast majority of the public, it feels like a deeply embarrassing and cringeworthy move. An act of high arrogance. “You wouldn’t burst into a busy kitchen and berate a chef into adding cumin to a tiramisu,” a friend of mine once said. People have offered me cash to play certain songs before. Imagine someone doing something similar to a newsreader or conductor at the Proms.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in