“Some School Dances Just Suck”: Yes, but don’t let solvable problems bring you down by Arnoldo Offermann

March 15, 2013 by Aaron Burger

I was perusing through a few Facebook Groups (notice a common theme in my articles?) and came across this on DJ Idea Sharing:

Did a school dance on friday. mb148_072
1st -Some kid threw gum at me
2nd -Kid wrote F*** YOU! on my request list
3rd -They kept putting their drinks on my sub (causing rings) SOME School Dances Just Suck.

Now, the author, Rob, said I could share this in Mobile Beat because many of these things are workable problems. We don’t genrerally have problems like these, and I believe it is because we are proactive about the entire dance. The best way to solve a problem is to bring it up before the client or guests can.

For example, I don’t even give the school a chance to tell me what music to play “so it doesn’t cause them to start grinding.” I always bring the subject up WITH a solution that WORKS. I want to make it very clear that we are the experts; we know every foreseeable problem and have a solution for it. In short, nothing, I mean NOTHING catches us by surprise. If you do not honestly believe this about your own company, you will have the same problems that my friend Rob did.

So how do we handle them? Let’s look at each question one by one:


This really should be “Some kid threw gum/shoe/glowsticks/tacos at me.” If they throw a taco, say thank you. Tacos are delicious. I’ve had one kid throw a shoe not at me, but at the lights. A quick “KNOCK IT OFF OR YOU GET KICKED OUT” on the mic usually works, but it can often lead to more people just trying to piss you off. I’ve found just an effective a solution: tell admin. That’s right! Before you even step foot in the building, the sponsor should know that anyone who poses a threat to your staff or equipment needs to leaveÑno exceptions. Find the kid who threw said item, use a zoom lens if need be and snap a pic, and let the security know they need to go. If you don’t know who did it, ask security to hang out for a bit to see if they can help.

Often, the projectile’s intended target isn’t you. It’s usually just thrown up in the air, and you were just a lucky fellow to have caught the flying item. If you can, ignore it and move on. No need to bring attention to this.

As for flying glowsticks, this is an all-too-common problem. I finally found a way to fix this, by encouraging them to throw the glow sticks straight up in the air at certain intervals. I’ll do a countdown during a song’s buildup and have them throw them straight up as we cut the lights off momentarily. When I have a student chucking the glowsticks around, I quickly get on the mic and say “Dude- wrong direction and too early; just wait!” Of course, this gets a quick laugh and the problem stops.


What’s the issue here? I love Cee-Lo Green! Let’s move on.

Kidding, of course; but I am left wondering as to why there’s a request list. Nothing makes you look like less of a DJ and more of a tyrannical maniac than a request list. Imean, really? Part of the FUN is asking the DJ for a song and hearing them say “you got it!” If you tell me that You’re too busy to take verbal requests, I may have to punish you. There is zero reason to not take requests face-to-face.

I do understand how hard it is when you’re in the middle of a mix and someone taps your shoulder and screams “2 CHAINZZZZZÉ TRU!!!!!!” For this, you use your roadie! Don’t have one? Get one! How many times do I need to go over the importance of a roadie? Aside from making setup and breakdown easier and more enjoyable, your assistant can be your liaison during the dance

The #1 rule: Create rapport with everyone! easier and more enjoyable, your assistant can be your liaison during the dance.

Why do this? Because having open interaction with the studentsmakes you seem cooler. As students request music, they always look at all our equipment and a few even ask questions. This one-on-one connection is crucial to creating a bond with the overall audience. Take this true story as an example (dialog was changed a bit, but the essence is the same):

Student: “Hey you got some Future.”
Derek (my tech): “Let me ask the DJ.”

I tell Derek to let the student enter my “DJ space.”

Me: “Bro, I’ll be happy to play some Future, but you gotta do me a favor.”

Student: “What’s that?”

Me: “I notice you’re chillin’ with the crew in front of the stage who are getting a bit pushy with the grinding. I don’ t want to turn all ‘dance-police’ on you, but you know the admin won’ t approve it and it’ll hur t my chances of dropping some Future on. See if you can get ’em to cool it down a bit?”

This ALWAYS works. The crucial one-on-one connection that creates a favor-for-favor situation keeps you legit in their eyes. They know you’re on their side and want to play their music, but you still gotta abide by the rules.


Arnoldo Offermann is the creator of the video series Master School Dances and author of R U Rockin’ with the Best?! He has helped DJs worldwide become market leaders in school dances. In a soft economy flooded with $500 school dance DJs, Arnoldo enjoys watching 4SchoolsOnly yield dances of 10-20x that price tag. Learn more about his wildly successful series packed with ideas that actually work at www.MasterSchoolDances.com. By arnoldo offermann

Aaron Burger Aaron Burger (77 Posts)

Filed Under: 2013, DJing School Dances, Mobile DJ Business