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The Secret DJ: “Beware other DJs. Some will say or do anything to get your slot”

Top tips from our secret selector

  • Words: The Secret DJ | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 22 November 2018

Dear Secret DJ, once I’ve secured a great gig, what are the tricks, tips or techniques to getting booked again? DT, Cardiff

Tough one! but interesting. In some cases it is utterly futile. I’ve spent many years wondering what the bally-hell I did wrong, only to discover years later that those promoters have a strict policy of never having a DJ twice. It’s more common than you think, especially in this age of hyper-fast living. I once did a gig in a major venue in the north of England, arriving there after a strong Ibiza season, and the venue was full of the same kids who’d seen me on the island. The crowd chanted my name and I was convinced I’d be made a resident on the spot. Never heard a peep from the place again. At a certain level it becomes about business, and a lot of it is about how you move in that business – or how your representatives do. It rarely has anything to do with what music you play.

More than once I’ve finally got a gig at that dream venue and then discovered that the promoter wasn’t even there when I played. I’ve also found out later that the boss asked the resident what I was like, and the resident, being another DJ, was rather economical with the truth about numbers on the dancefloor and general reception. Another time I lost a residency when a jealous newbie DJ told the boss I had done/said something completely fictional. Beware other DJs! Some will say or do anything to get your slot.

In a sense, DT, you’re talking about being memorable. But remembered for what is very, very important. For example, a certain venue always speaks in slightly awed, hushed tones about the night I did 22 pills and still managed to DJ. They recount the story frequently, yet – strangely – don’t book me. Another very very sombre and cool venue speaks highly of my kicking off their yearly fancy dress event (I wasn’t in fancy dress) – but when they tell the story always forget my name, or to book me again.

Readers of my book will be familiar with the mighty Xenon. When we were an electronic duo for a couple of years he sacked himself from any more gigs because everywhere we went he got hammered and broke something. Once, the boss of a superclub came into the booth to explain they’d just had cameras forced on them by the council so could we please not do any gear in the booth. Xenon stared at him blankly, then promptly offered him a record sleeve with two huge lines on it right in front of the spanking new cameras.

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