How to: Request songs from a DJ

Ah the life of a DJ. International jet-set travel, huge paycheques and glamorous women throwing themselves at you for cheeky BJ’s behind the decks. I’m sure superstar DJ’s do have that lifestyle, but for your average local pub/bar/club DJ this simply isn’t the case. You normally get some drinks and a bit of cash for your efforts. Like many others, I DJ for the love of music and dropping tunes that I personally love to make people dance, rather than fame and fortune.

I run my own nights and events and play a wide range of genres including funk, reggae, hip hop, ska, mash-up’s, rock n roll and drum and bass. So I like to think that during the event there will be at least some music that most people will enjoy. I also occasionally DJ at friends’ weddings or birthday parties where I’m usually given a playlist or a style of music to play.

What really makes me laugh is that, at parties or events, people always come up to the DJ booth with requests and expect you to be like their personal iTunes/iPod/iPhone and instantly play exactly what they want to hear. So I thought it might be fun to give you some examples of requests I have had over the years and some tips if you do feel the need to approach the DJ and request something.

1. Pay attention. Don’t ask the DJ to play the exact same song that he is playing at that moment. This makes you look like a dick.

2. Do listen to what styles of music the DJ is playing and make sure your request roughly fits in with that. So when a DJ is playing hip hop don’t ask for a song by Weezer and when he is playing drum and bass don’t ask for Oasis.

3. Don’t be vague when making requests by saying “play something more modern/mainstream/chart music” and then when something like that is played specifically for you, return five minutes later to ask for something from the 1970’s.

4. When making a song request, make sure you know at least the artist’s name or the song title. Usually the person in question is quite drunk and the conversation goes a little like this:

“Can you play that song?”

“Which song?”

“You know the one that goes la la la de de la la oh yeah.”

“That doesn’t really help me. It could be anything from the past 50 years.”

“Come on you dick. You must know it. You’re a DJ. Everyone knows it. Its massive. Call yourself a DJ? Humph”

He then storms off and you see him slagging you off to his mates. He will come back again a few minutes later with “What about this one? Dum dum dum da da da baby baby? What, you haven’t got that either, you fucking loser.”

If anyone does know what these songs are please let me know and I’ll add them to my collection.

5. I have also been asked some rather inane and sometimes abusive questions such as:

“Do you have any other music?” – No I only have this one song with me and I intend to play it on repeat for the next three hours.

“Do you have any music that isn’t shit?” – No. The pub/bar/club hired me with the specific request to play shit music so that’s all I brought with me.

“What time is the next DJ coming on?” – There isn’t one. It’s just me tonight. – “Can’t you call another DJ to play instead of you?”

“Can you play something from the 80’s?” My DJ buddy replied, “Can you be any more specific with what song or artist you want?” “Well you wankers have a decade to choose from why should I do all the work? You’re getting paid for this.”

6. I find that threats are also not that helpful. I had just started DJing one saturday night in a local pub when at 9pm a sweaty, gurning, wide pupiled guy approached me and demanded that I play some dub step . I replied that I would play some later on in the night when it got a bit busier. “If you don’t play some dub step NOW me and my 10 mates are leaving. He didn’t carry out his threat and stayed till the end of the night.

7. Unusual or interesting requests are to be encouraged however. The best request I have had was from a lady dressed up in fancy dress for her birthday as a circus ring master. She asked “do you have any circus music?” Strangely enough I had a circus theme song on a random CD which was perfect for the occasion and made that lady’s day.

8. Remember that just because someone is a DJ it doesn’t mean that he owns every single song ever made. So don’t expect them to have that rare b-side or outtake that only a collector/muso is likely to have in their collection.

9. Remember that the DJ has usually been booked to play because they know how to DJ and have a good selection of music appropriate for the venue or event. Just because you want to hear a particular song doesn’t mean that everyone else in the venue wants to hear it, especially if you are requesting The Macarena.

10. A final tip for DJ’s. DO NOT EVER PLAY GANGNAM STYLE. Yes it is the most popular song ever written and will always fill the floor with people of all ages doing the silly dance for a few minutes. However, it is impossible to find an appropriate song to follow it and usually the dancefloor will empty as quickly as it filled.

If any other DJs out there have any tips or funny requests I’d love to hear them and how you dealt with them. Tell me in the comments section.



How to request songs from a DJ  by 25ThC