The Room Is Spinning
BY MIKE “DR. FRANKENSTAND” RYAN
Occupational hazards: I think dealing with drunks may be the worst part of DJing. Seasoned DJs have “been there, done that.” However, if you’re new to this business, the following three stories about drinking are quite sobering. They are followed by several suggestions how to better handle drunken guests.
Last year at an awards banquet, I was approached by a very attractive, but obviously drunk young lady. With a bottle of Bud in hand she insisted that I change the song I was playing. I told her the dance floor was full and the guests were obviously enjoying themselves. It was like talking to…a drunk!
When she started rooting through my equipment, I tried to stop any further turbulence by telling her, in my best pilot voice, “Welcome to flight (name of the party), I’m your pilot; this is the cockpit and you are a passenger, so please return to your seat.” At which point she responded by seductively kissing my cheek and placing a firm pat on my butt!
As San Diego DJ, I used to do an occasional wedding reception across the border in the Baja region of Mexico. I enjoyed doing them; I like Mexico, the people and the food. However, one party would mean “no mas” for me.
I’ve been offered drinks many times at parties. I have a rule against drinking while working, but one time while setting up for a wedding in Rosarita, Mexico I noticed the bartender preparing a large blender of margaritas. Now, I’m generally a teetotaler, but I do like to visit Margaritaville once in a while. I said “What the heck” and asked him for a drink. Bad idea! I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to focus on my job—after only one drink.
The wedding planner apparently liked margaritas too, but she didn’t stop at just one. During the reception she became sloppy drunk and almost knocked herself out when she face-slammed into a wall. The kitchen staff were so boiled with her pathetic inebriation that half of them quit right then and there, prompting the mothers of the bride and groom to kick her out of the party.
At the end of the event, the W.P., who had stayed at the venue, caught up to me as I loaded my van for my trip back to San Diego. Still quite drunk, she propositioned me! That experience left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, and I haven’t worked with her since.
(My complete elimination of south-of-border gigs wasn’t only due to the plastered planner. Half way back to the states I was pulled over by the Federales (Government police) who were very interested in the contents of my van. I don’t speak much Spanish and they didn’t speak any English. It was a frightening experience. To make matter worse, the two-and-a-half-hour long wait to cross the border at Tijuana seemed like an eternity, especially with the guy behind me blasting his monster subwoofer the whole time.)
At another recent wedding reception (back in California) a young lady in attendance almost died because of alcohol!
The event was in a resort restaurant, with a nice crowd, a wonderful bride and groom, and a delightful mother of the bride who doubled as the planner. Half-way thought the reception a young man attempted to bring in a small keg of beer. The bartender and wait-captain intercepted him and tried to explain that bringing alcohol into the event was not only not allowed, but could jeopardize their alcohol license and posed serious liability issues. Again, it was a case of talking to a drunk.
The combative guest argued that the keg was his wedding gift to the newlyweds. The M.O.B., obviously upset with this guest, joined in the heated argument. At which point I almost made a serious mistake. As this guest became more agitated, I thought about intervening. Fortunately I caught myself and stayed clear. (Even with good intentions, jumping into an altercation like this is always a bad idea—don’t do it.)
At the end of the wedding, as I was rolling my gear out to my van, there on a table being used as a gurney was a young female guest, passed out, stone-cold drunk! Three young men were desperately trying to revive her. One of them yelled out “Call 911!” It turned out that the young man yelling for help was the guy who brought in the beer keg earlier. There’s some karma for ya.
HANDLING THE HAMMERED
These are only three out of many events featuring problem drinkers that I’ve experienced, and I know there will be more to come. Fortunately, we don’t have to walk into our events unprepared to face obnoxious drunks. Online author MiShaun Taylor offers some great advice that we can share with the people who really need to be responsible for drinking at parties: our clients.
1. Suggest forming a “security team” of friends or co-workers (preferably non-drinkers) whom your client(s) feel are able to handle drunken guests.
2. Prior to the party, recruit the bartender(s) to help keep an eye out for known heavy drinkers and/or anyone they feel has had enough.
3. Ask the drunken guest (or family member) to sit and chat with you over some coffee and cake. Obviously the coffee is to help sober up the person and the food will help slow down the absorption of alcohol.
4. Take the guest outside for some fresh air, and to remove him (or her) from the party.
5. Get the car keys! Don’t let your guests drive drunk.
6. Remind the host that they may be legally liable for the actions of a drunken guest. And ironically, that the drunk can sue the host too.
The reality is that DJs are in the party business and party people like to drink. With some preparation and an arsenal of preventive measures, we can ensure a safer environment for celebration—for everyone.
Filed Under: Exclusive Online News and Content, Issues from 2011
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