From the the woman herself,
In a club or bar setting, requests may get played if:
1) you are polite in your delivery (who does anything for assholes?).
2) the song is on par with what I am already playing. Does not go, Freebird and Black Moon.
3) I have it. If I do not, I will not download it; play it off your iPhone; get it off Spotify; or stream it off Youtube.
Even if your request meets all the requirements, there is still no guarantee I will play it. ◊
That being said, once a precedent has been set where the DJ takes requests, it becomes a slippery slope where the audience then thinks they own the night, the mood, the everything. That they are entitled to make it theirs. That is not how this works. We DJ’s are not jukeboxes or iPods. If you wanted to hear all your own music, in the order you want it, at the loudness your heart desires–STAY HOME. It’s way cheaper, less dramatic, and everyone will be much happier.
Also, accepting too many requests distracts the DJ from actually DJ’ing by having to field questions, find music, etc. Our job is to read the crowd and make the most people happy with the selection, transitions, and timing of every track. There are algorithms for what these “particular” guests want–it’s called Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, or the radio.
Many people are ignorant as to what it takes to become a professional DJ. I started nearly 20 years ago with two turntables and a mixer a friend was throwing away, sitting on the floor by my TV because my RCA cables were so short they had to be right next to my receiver. I fashioned a “fix” for the sticky fader by jamming an origami Post-it in the slit. I had one crate of records. I played them all the time. I listened with my eyes closed to feel and understand the cacophony that was in my headphones. The concept of beat matching may sound simple but when you are first starting, it is a train wreck that frustrates your dreams. It’s counting-1,2,3,4, and microscopic nudges here and there to get it to work, but, when you finally get it, you do it again and again and again and again and again…my neighbors surely hated me.
Then you become obsessed. You raid everyone’s record collection, your friends’, the stores’, and your mind opens. Oh the places I can go now that I can play this music in a responsible way. Serato has made the art of djing exceptionally easier but the skill is no different–Serato and myriad technologies serve as aides to our art, not crutches or replacements–or they shouldn’t.
After years of practice, devotion, money invested, money lost, money made, relationships strained, drunken nights, sober days, terrible mixes (because they can’t be perfect all the time), and epiphanic blends, we, the Dj’s deserve to do our job with all the respect that anyone else expects. We deserve to be paid what we are worth. We deserve a safe environment in which to work. It’s what any professional asks of their job and Dj’s are no different.
Ultimately, when a Dj is playing at a bar, club, restaurant–anywhere, she is getting paid. That makes her a professional. It may be arguable whether or not she is good at this job, but that is the case in any workplace. It is not for the guests to take control of her, thus opening the flood gates, and changing the energy of the entire room for only a few. This is her job.
◊ Weddings are a completely different beast. My request policy is WAY more lenient as the couple has particular songs for traditional dances, memorable moments, or just plain favorites. Oftentimes, I get a “Do Not Play” list before I get the “Must Have” track listings! Friends and family are free to make requests but mostly because of all the other factors involved in a wedding, I’ll do what I can but the Bride & Groom’s wishes come first!