I’ve been DJing for over a decade… closer to 15 years now actually. It’s been a passion of mine that entire time. I love DJ culture and I love being one… tonight though, made me hate what I do. It was easily the worst experience of my entire career.
I got an email from a local Portland Bar about coming in tonight and playing since their other DJ dropped out. This is a bar that I’d auditioned at the week before. The bar manager had me come in, play for three hours and then told me how much she liked what I was doing, how much they wanted me back and then scheduled me for a Friday in mid-September. I was excited about it because I thought it might be a venue where I could sell myself, have a good time and bring people to… but after tonight I’m never going back.
I’ve never felt so disrespected as a performer in my life. I started doing what I do by building up, playing some progressive house, more melodic stuff and then turned it up when I saw people starting to come in, look in from outside and get curious. It was a few songs into the more heavy music that a woman who works there asked me very rudely to change what I was doing.
I’ve never been asked that before. Look I got booked to be a progressive/electro house DJ. That’s what I do… I don’t do top 40, I don’t do hip-hop, I don’t do downtempo, which is what I was being asked to do at that moment. I hadn’t prepared for that, and I refuse to think that’s my fault.
As soon as I walked in and sat at the bar to get a drink before playing, the bar tender asked me of I was going to tear it up. Yes… I had planned on it, but for two hours I was forced to dig through my song selection and find the very few down tempo mellow tracks I could find.
Then once I got back into my own groove, after people that wanted to dance had left because the music was too slow, I pushed the tempo back up, got into my grimy, crunchy sound and was told “this isn’t working” by the woman who booked me. She loves the music apparently, which I felt was very disingenuous. I felt disrespected. Again I’m being asked to do something different. I’m being told to change on the fly.
Why have me come audition, say you love what I do and then tell me it needs to be something else? I don’t think people have a respect for the DJ that they would for any other artist. What’s worse is that in another room in the building were 3 DJs headlining in a theater/hall. Would they ever be asked to change what they’re doing in order to appease an audience? OF COURSE NOT! Why? Fuck if I know.
What I do know is that I’ll never go to Berbati again. I was told there’d be a promotional push on their social networks to get people into the bar… didn’t happen. Tonight failed not because I didn’t do my job. I’m a great EDM DJ. It’s what I do. I love EDM, I have for years. Maybe that wasn’t made clear when I played for them for three hours straight, but apparently, they thought I could just play anything at any time. Fuck that. Fuck that bar, fuck how I was mistreated by numerous employees and given attitude when I didn’t want to change my style.
That shit is not cool and I’ll never be stepping foot int that place again. Yes that means my September 14th gig is done. But when I’m trying to have a discussion about what to do about the music and you leave and turn on the radio, don’t come back and don’t talk to me, I don’t know how to deal with it. I was mortified. I was made to feel like it was MY FAULT, when there was no promotion, no understanding and no dialogue happening.
I’m sorry for the long winded rant, but I did a LOT to make tonight special and I worked my ass off to make them happy for 3 hours and when it wasn’t what they wanted they didn’t want to say “then stop playing” they wanted to force me into an awkward place where I’d have to leave of my own accord so they couldn’t pay me. That shit was shady and it was so obvious that’s what happened.
They don’t know how to treat DJs there. If you’re a DJ in the Pacific Northwest, beware of this little place.