Requests at Events

November 23, 2011 by Arnoldo Offermann

This is a common line DJs give to guests when they make a request. Anyone who’s heard this line knows that it really means “there’s no way in Hell I’m playing it.” Why? Why lie to guests? Why give them the glimmer of hope that you’re going to play their awful song, when you know you’d rather stick yourself with a hot fork than play “Please Pass the Biscuits” at a wedding with a club theme. (Oh how I wish I was making this up..)

Whether I’m discussing previous DJs with vendors, schools, brides, or corporations, the number one complaint about DJs is their music selection. I’ve come to an epiphany: people complain when they don’t expect it. For an obvious example: I sell you a CD player and tell you the PLAY button is failing. When it DOES fail, you won’t complain because you knew about it. If I lied about it, you’d be very vocal on my rep as a seller.

The same goes for requests: BE HONEST… or you’re just a liar.

At school events, where I have a packed dance floor dancing to club/hip-hop, Latin and throwbacks, I’ll have one student come up and ask me for some terrible rock song, and I don’t mean Nickelback. I mean worse, a lot worse. Names you’ve never heard of because the group has only played in their garage as they pour cow blood over themselves. I look at them and tell them, “Bro, I’m sure it’s a great song, but what do you think would happen if I play that?” They understand this is my way of saying “no” but I offer them an alternative: “Tell me a song you like that will get this crowd crazy.” They’ll give me something fun now, such as Blink 182’s “All The Small Things.” GREAT CHOICE! I play the song, and they’re happy because I played a song they requested.

The example doesn’t have to be that extreme, maybe they’re asking for a slow song after we just played one. I tell them “look, I already played it but I might be able to slip it as the next slow song.. meanwhile, tell me a fast song you like.”

I also remind them that I am slammed with requests and if I don’t play their song, it was simply a matter of timing. They understand- I’ve never had a rude student when I use this method. OK, I did once, but she was severely drunk.

The dances that I personally do have NO complaints about music. This isn’t a bragging point or exaggeration– I go through hell and back to make sure EVERYONE knows that they can request music. They also know that they are requests and not demands, but I will let them know from the get go wether or not I will play that song.

Expectations are met from the beginning. They know that I am there to make EVERYONE happy, but just as I need to be reasonable with their music choices, they need to be reasonable with what will work for the overall crowd. “Let me see what I can do” should be a phrase that is REMOVED from your vocabulary. Be honest and watch your dance floor response grow dramatically.

Arnoldo Offermann Arnoldo Offermann (40 Posts)

Arnoldo Offermann is the president of 4SchoolsOnly, a national phenomenon in school dances. In a market where DJs cry about $500 school DJs, 4SO sees 10-20x that price tag per event. Arnoldo is also the creator of Master School Dances, the leading educational tools for DJs wanting to get into this great market. He is a sought-after speaker, reviewer, and DJ tech-writer. You can learn more at

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