Don’t be a dance scene dick, yes this means you

While we all eagerly await DJ Sneak to point out the next batch of fakers to take cause against, I thought it would be a good time to point out some easy things everyone can avoid doing that will ultimately improve our scene.

Headlining DJs

Don’t be dicks. Yes, we know that the night is all about you, that you are being paid well, and that you think you are the rockstar. Even assuming that you are there as a result of hard work and talent and not money and circumstance, you are not a god. Every day that you are still relevant should be spent thanking one not acting like one. Keep your ego in check and remember that just because your name is at the top of the list of talent doesn’t mean manners cease to exist. Also, cool it with the crazy artist riders. You are already charging an arm and a leg, you could at least buy your own damn booze, inflatable boats, and blueberry infused water from some island of which no one has ever heard.

Opening/Supporting DJs

You are not the main event, this is not your big break, the night is not about you. Get over yourself. You may very well be a better, harder working, and more lovable DJ than the headliner, but the gig isn’t centered around you so stop with the attitude. You are in a supporting role, your job for the night is to support, so support. Don’t be a dick and play a set like you are in the headlining slot. If you don’t have music for a supporting role, or that isn’t the music you play, don’t accept the job. The headliner shouldn’t have to clean up your mess, they should be able to play what they came to play, you should lead the crowd into it. Go get headlining gigs if you think you deserve them. Until then, support.

Female DJs

You have it tough, you really do. We all know this is a male dominated scene so don’t be dicks to other female DJs by using sex to sell yourself. If you can’t get gigs because of your talent and hustle, your tits and ass shouldn’t be your back-up plan. It demeans your gender, it makes you look like a cheap slut, and it keeps people from taking female DJs seriously. Be sexy, be proud, but keep it about art and talent behind the decks. Go do an “art” film if you feel the need to exploit yourself.


Your job is to create an experience and to get people to that experience. Do your job. Don’t be a dick and expect everyone else, i.e. the DJ, to do your job. If you are booking DJs based purely on how many people you think they will bring, and expecting “sub-promoters” to bring the bulk of the crowd, you are redundant and an unnecessary cost to the people. Know what the DJs you are booking play, what they are capable of, and then give them time slots appropriate to the overall arch of the night you’ve designed. This will highlight the headliner you are “over-paying and didn’t even draw that much of a crowd” which will make for a better night and people will feel better about how much you overcharged them.

Venue Owners/Managers

Let the people you hired do their job. If you don’t like what they are doing, then don’t hire them again. Don’t be a dick and start telling everyone how to do their job, especially if you have never done that job yourself. You just be cool, tell all the girls you own the place, and spend your profits up your nose like your master life plan dictates. If you do anything, do quality control, make sure the people you have hired are providing a good environment for the people you are overcharging for beverages.

Go-Go Dancers

Let me start off by saying, girls, I love you. I really do. You are fun, pretty, and full of great energy. But stop being dicks. You aren’t performers, quit calling yourself that. Unless you are the 3% that actually choreograph a routine or are a part of a choreographed routine you aren’t performing anything. Quit thinking people are coming specifically to see you dance (even the ones that tell you they are, are lying). If you think you are anything more than eye candy, try to be a go-go dancer at 40. Have fun, be half-naked, but leave the delusions of grandeur at home.


There really is no scene without you, but don’t be dicks. Don’t come up to the booth to make requests, don’t waive your phone around to make requests, don’t try to use some tired old line you think you just invented to make a request. Just don’t make a request. If the DJ is the kind of DJ that takes requests, you can be sure he will let you know. If they don’t, just let them do their job. Even if they are the worst DJ you’ve ever heard they are the one working, not you. Also, yes, you will know about music they don’t, don’t be a dick and start acting all superior about how you can’t believe they have never heard of this track before and how “everyone” knows about this song, it’s not a competition, just go dance.

If you or anyone you know suffers from any of these behaviors you have my permission to take a rolled up newspaper and smack yourself or them on the nose with a firm, “NO!”

Published by

Sean Ray

Award winning DJ/Producer and actor (SAG-AFTRA).

37 thoughts on “Don’t be a dance scene dick, yes this means you”

    1. OMG!!! I could not have said this better myself, nor more eloquently.. This should be plastered everywhere, in every contract, back of ticket, bathroom wall, next to the entrance of every venue.. 🙂

  1. I gotta say I disagree with you about some of these. You’re basically saying that supporting acts should purposely perform under their potential. There’s nothing wrong with being an opener and giving it your all on stage; that’s how you get big. You say “go headline a gig” as if it’s something people can just do. If i pay to see a show, I want every act to do their best to tear it up. A lot of times I come away liking the opener more than the headliner anyway, and that’s fine. Also the part about go-go dancers is a bit of a stretch. Does it really bother you that much that the beautiful girls on stage are trying their best? I know if my job was to dance on stage for hundreds of people I would take it seriously too. Everything else in the article is pretty spot on though.

    1. Honestly I think for an opening DJ it’s more about playing the appropriate music for your timeslot opposed to playing a weakened set before the headliner. I know every new DJ wants to drop every brand new bangin track but if you are playing at 9pm starting off the night play music that will go with the mood of the venue at that time.

      1. No one said you shouldn’t play your best or a watered down set, it’s about supporting the theme of the night and the headliner. That means playing appropriately for your time slot and not trying to play festival massive tracks at 9pm.

      2. I disagree HEAVY on this!!! Any DJ with whatever time slot they play should play what they want!!! THEY are the ones who buy the tracks!!! They are the ones who spend time learning how to play them and THEY are the ones who will know how to rock the night out and how with them if you know your style well!!! No matter what you are playing or how you open up is all up to the DJ!!! Play what your heart desires 🙂

    2. There’s a little thing called DJ etiquette where the only rules that I know of would be 1. …try not to play any tracks that are the headliners productions. 2. Try not to let your time slot creep 10 minutes into the headliners time slot. I know people go as far as to say that an opening dj shouldnt play any tracks that the headliner could potentially play…but I have to disagree. A headlining dj should be at a level where he can adapt to a situation. It’s nobody’s fault, but their own if they have a pre-planned set every time or they are mixing a fake Ableton Live dj set. A headlining dj should be able to have access to rare, hard to find, or exclusive tracks to put into his set.

  2. Here’s the thing Steve, openers can play their heart out, but their job is just that, to open, which means yes, you must restrain yourself, in a way. It doesn’t mean you can’t play an insanely amazing set, it just has to fit the time and place. Opening is, in my opinion, the toughest DJ slot of all, because of what I just said, you can’t play whatever you want. You have to lead the party in with tracks that will bring up the energy. You can’t just bang out some crazy “peak of the night” tracks right at the beginning of the night. It will just run the vibe completely wrong from the start, wear people (and their ears) out before the headliner, etc… Opening is an artform in itself. Just read this article where some of the greats explain their views on opening and you may understand..

  3. “If you are booking DJs based purely on how many people you think they will bring… you are redundant and an unnecessary cost to the people.”

    So a promoter that books Calvin Harris or Skrillex is redundant and unnecessary? Disagree. Promoting is project management. Artists get booked because they have followings. Good promoters pick the best artists to create the best show and then manage the opportunity to ensure the best possible turn-out. If you’re upset because a promoter expects you to promote as a DJ, it’s probably why you aren’t getting booked. This is business people.

    1. It really refers to non-headlining DJs, but the point still stands. This issue is that attendance should not be the SOLE factor. Promoters should be selling an experience which requires many factors.

      1. Oh, Sean. You though people read for comprehension on the interwebz. :rolled up newspaper slap: “No!”
        Loving the makeover that Small Town Zeros are working on some of your tunes BTW. Solid stuff to work with of course. Kudos.

      2. To finesse this point a little more, it is often that when I speak to promoters the first thing they ask me is “How many people can you bring?” as if I have a legion of mindless followers who magically turn up at whatever bar, club or carpark I happen to be playing in. Often they ask that question before they even ask what my playing style or experience is. And this is becoming more the norm than the exception. Of course if you book an international headliner you’re doing that solely on the basis of their crwod pulling power, to assume otherwise is being silly, but for promoters of smallish venues to abdicate their resposibility of getting bums through the door to the Dj they’re hiring is not on! I’ll keep the crowd there, you get them there. After all if I did have that legion of mindless followers you think I have, I’d hire a bar myself and take all the profits.

      3. makes sense. i think it’s the difference between free DJs and paid DJs. talented artists (no matter what genre) will get fans buying tickets to their shows, which is what promoters ultimately need to stay in business & keep doing events. no successful promoter can do it on their own. i think the issue is when promoters expect numbers for free. if you’re helping sell tickets, you should get something out of it. i fully expect to pay a good DJ to help with marketing. i’ll take any help i can get to increase buzz.

  4. Love this article – laughing all the way through!!! Especially being a female supporting DJ with an amazing DJ husband. Opening acts should be warming up the crowd, setting the stage for the main act – not blowing their wad at 9:00 p.m. playing the hottest new tracks. I do love the Go-Go dancers, though – especially the one looking at herself in the mirror while she gyrates…

  5. “If you are booking DJs based purely on how many people you think they will bring… you are redundant and an unnecessary cost to the people.”

    I couldn’t agree more with this. Any DJ who has a real passion for what they do will tell you that they would rather play to a 100 strong crowd up on the dancefloor as opposed to 1000 people sitting around chatting to their mates or standing at the bar. Attendance is not everything and does not create an atmosphere. Atmosphere is the most important part of the night and is generated from the first DJ’s first track right through to the last DJ’s final track of the night. It’s about playing the right track at the right time to have the right effect on people and setting the mood. Personally I hate when DJ’s of any stature play a set full of big well known tracks as it shows to me very little in the way of thought and effort on their part. When I leave a club or a DJ has finished his set I want to walk away wanting to know what some of the tracks were in that set and I try to replicate this in my own sets. I want people to be inquisitive about what a certain track was that they have never heard. This is what makes a DJ stand out from the crowd. For me then the DJ has taken the time and effort to really do his homework and go that extra mile to produce the goods. Little factors such as this are what help create a good atmosphere in a night.

    If attendance or simply making money is more your thing then by all means go and see or book SHM/Calvin Harris/Tiesto etc and stand in amongst a crowd of clueless people, most of who are only there because they are sheep and follow a crowd. Even stand there while some of them play pre-mixed cds while you have just spent your hard earned cash to see them “perform”. Every DJ no matter how big in stature should have the respect for his fans and the crowd that have come to at least perform. Another point, if you are a promoter you should have the decency to book artists that you feel will suit the club and the night you are running. Don’t book high profile DJ’s such as Dennis Ferrer/Mark Farina (just examples) as you feel it may boost your attendance and then decide to kick him off the decks because YOU AS A PROMOTER have not done your homework. Leave the real club nights and atmosphere to the people who are actually passionate about the scene for the right reasons and are not just in it to make some cash.

    1. i hear ya. atmosphere is important. promoters can’t have more mission than margin though. otherwise, it’s not a business. its’ a hobby. folks should definitely be passionate about what they’re hosting though or it will show. i think the ability to create atmosphere helps profitability too.

      shame about farina at marquee. i guess he’s going to be there again soon though.

  6. You forgot one thing. Supporting dj : NEVER PLAY ELECTRO IF YOU’RE FIRST! Good bye sound system quality for the night

  7. “If you are booking DJs based purely on how many people you think they will bring… you are redundant and an unnecessary cost to the people.”

    While this is true for headliners, it’s not true for opening DJ’s. Unless the opening DJ produces and has releases out on well-known labels, or is a good-looking female with the skills to back it up (i.e. not PARIS), they will have zero pull power. None. The criteria to get an opening spot nowadays is you have to be a promoter, in the hopes that you will return the favor at your next party to the promoter who took a risk on booking you first. Look at the list of DJ’s who open for headliners at major parties the next time you’re surfing around facebook. Almost ALL of them happen to be promoters who just so happen to DJ. And as soon as they stop throwing parties, just watch as their booking schedule disappears virtually overnight.

    Think that sucks? At least it’s not like in the indy rock-band world, where in order to get booked you actually have to purchase a bunch of tickets from the venue out-of-pocket. And if you can’t sell them to your fans, you’re screwed!

  8. hmmmmm.I guess someone that never had to perform in that roll would be quick to judge and say something like that.. Especially when the GO-GO dancers have to be quick to clarify what they mean when they say they are a dancer because douche
    men are quick to assume Stripper, and the Stripper to say Entertainer so they arent quickly judged .. the Dancers in shows say they are PERFORMERS.. and the Performers in shows like Cirque shows are PERFORMERS… so which would you think a GOGO is when you think they should say PERFORMER??

    1. Believe it or not I have performed every role in this article, even dancer (I was young and wanted to dance).

      Comparing a Cirque performer to your average go-go dancer is exactly my point, not even in the same category. Cirque performers are performing a routine, an art piece that requires skill and practice beyond putting on skimpy outfits and wiggling around. I say wiggling because they usually can’t even move their feet well with the platform boots they are wearing.

      Again, I have no problem with them doing it, but when they start slinging attitude like they are a performer and people come specifically to see them it’s ridiculous. People go to see DJs and musicians without go-go dancers but people don’t go see go-go dancers without DJs and musicians.

  9. you forgot DJs: It’s your workplace, not a bozze-up free-for-all. Keep some semblance of a professional demeanour. Leave the boozing DJing in the 80s where it belongs

  10. Don’t act like you made the tracks your playing, unless you made the tracks your playing. There is a huge difference in playing other people’s music and actually staying up for days/weeks in the studio to get the levels right.

  11. Loved reading this and all the comments. Great stuff,a real eye opener. Thanks also for makeing me smile.

  12. I push my opening DJs to rock the house now….its 2012…If you can build the crowd the right way and still rock it then I love you. If people are there for the Opener then they will dance to “Anything With a Kick Drum” (JFK) If not….then Ill throw the opener back on because the headliner doesn’t need to be there anyway! (Not Really….but u know what im sayin)….I guess what Im saying is….I’m a DICK! Nice Article Duckworth!

  13. Dude! I should send you a copy of my book about this. I also write about all other stupid issues that causes the wil be released late 2012. Im not kidding im serious 🙂

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