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The Secret DJ: How to maintain a relationship while on tour

The Secret DJ dishes romance tips

  • Words: The Secret DJ | Illustration: William Davey
  • 5 February 2019

Hi Secret DJ. I find it really difficult to maintain my relationship now I’m starting to play most weekends and also travel/tour as a DJ. Any advice? E, Serbia

Whatever your orientation the issues are the same. One person is separated from the other. Your significant other is either relaxed and cool about it, or it is a problem. With many degrees of grey in between. The job of a touring act is not conducive to relationships, that much I can tell you. In fact, the only time I’ve managed to hold onto anything resembling normality is when going out with another DJ, which – believe me – is not in any way normal, and has a special set of nightmares all of its own. We’d both end up spent and furious on ‘Black Wednesday’, every week. We’d both be short-tempered and exhausted and you’d think there’d be extra amounts of sympathy but somehow there never was. There’d be an element of professional jealousy and competitiveness. We’d both be laughably unfit. But there was a certain comfort and security from us both being in the game.

Let me be clear that lots of people manage to be a DJ and have a normal-ish life, so do not despair. It takes work, which is perhaps going out of style, but knowing what the problems are is the first step.

If you’re distant when you’re together at home then any separation is only going to exaggerate this gap. It takes confidence in yourself and a certain solidity in what you have together to survive the parting. Only something secure can hold fast. Only a partnership that is insecure worries about cheating, but it’s over-simplifying it to say it is all about infidelity. It is a factor, especially if one of you is a dirty DJ dog, but the bigger picture is far more nuanced.

If your partner isn’t happy in themselves then your job as a DJ will only make them feel worse. If you already have issues with them, it will appear pretty obvious that you are very happy about getting away each time you leave for gigs – which, when you think about it, is quite a punch in the guts for whoever has to stay at home. If a relationship has significant inequality, distance will amplify this imbalance. You both need your own life and your own sense of self. If one party is living vicariously through the other, it can tip right over. Finding balance in yourself before you partner up with anyone as wayward as a DJ is key. Observing and acknowledging these things helps you to understand and conquer them.

“People expect 24/7 partying from DJs, when that’s the last thing you want”

Some things are painful to behold in DJs. They get up and go to bed pretty much at will. Having to drag yourself up at stupid AM in the morning while DJ Sleepy gets up at the crack of whatever is rather harsh. They earn more money twerking around a sync button for an hour than you do in a week of dismal grind. No-one follows a plumber online in the thousands. No-one applauds a doctor for merely doing their job. All these things and more can chisel away at the relationship like a constant drip of water on stone. Especially when you see them drooling in their pants more often than on stage.

DJs are especially prone to wanting more and never being happy. If you disagree I can only assume you have never met any. Demands and expectations for them can be confusing and stressful. Do this. Be this. What you are is wrong: never nice things to hear. More than ever we are existing in an alternate, almost cartoonish reality that’s created online, lives in our heads and exists as photographs and social media feedback. Computers, smartphones and most of all drugs are crippling our sense of what is important and valid. The result is a pressure to make sure our career and our image always comes first – above all things, including those who we profess to love.

And on the other side, one of the greatest dangers is forming a relationship with someone who has fallen for an idea of you; with your job title – ‘Producer’ or ‘DJ’ – rather than your true self. People too often come at DJs expecting international adventure and 24/7 partying, when that’s probably the last thing you want at home. Conversely, DJs often seek an oversimplified stability in those they partner with, and place the entire onus for domesticity on them. But engaging only with hastily drawn two-dimensional versions of the other is doomed. We spend enough time miming, faking and pretending as DJs these days; it would be madness to let these fictions infect our relationships too.

The Secret DJ’s most excellent book is out now from amzn.to/2Pv5Kjr

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