While I live in sunny Southern California, I have friends all over the country. One of those friends relayed this story to me about trying to provide a performance for a couple in the mountains during a snow storm. Here’s the story my friend related…
It wasn’t quite the night before Christmas, but it was the busiest Saturday evening during the December holiday party season. An uneventful Saturday afternoon found me preparing, as I usually would, for my upcoming evening performance which was to begin at 6pm at an upscale hotel.
Across town my DJ, Justin, was in the process of dispatching to another prominent hotel for his expected 4:30 set-up and arrival. Shortly after 5pm I received a phone call from Justin informing me of the “gridlock” situation that was developing on the freeway due to an afternoon of snow and freezing rain.
As the temperature dropped and the skies darkened, so too did the possibilities of my DJ’s timely arrival. The phone call I received moments later was from Justin informing me of the accident (fender bender) that he just got into. This was a result of the surrounding vehicles who were experiencing the effects of black ice on the roadway.
By this point I was already on the phone with the event organizer from Justin’s party who was very understanding of the situation due to the many co-workers who were also caught up in the ice storm that was slowly developing into a very serious area disaster.
Shortly after 5:30pm I received yet another phone call from my DJ who informed me that the fender bender was resolved, but his four wheel drive vehicle has now slipped into an icy ditch on the side of the road. To make matters worse, he was boxed in by several vehicles who have crashed around him. He was only about five miles from the hotel.
Realizing his 6pm start was not going to happen, I was again on the phone with my very understanding longtime client who was most helpful and agreed to dispatch one of her company vehicles to retrieve my DJ and his equipment. The only problem with this idea was the underestimation by all of us of the serious road conditions that represented the worse case of black ice the area has seen in more than 30 years.
By 7:30pm I was hopeful for a successful retrieval and an impending set-up and start to the performance. Unfortunately the next phone call was from the driver who informed me that after two hours of driving he had only made it about three miles . . . this was two miles shy of his destination to reach my DJ. The plan was scrubbed and he proceeded back to the hotel.
While performing at a party myself, I discretely began to call other DJs knowing full well that I may not find anyone available since this was the busiest Saturday evening of the Christmas holiday season. Naturally, I was unsuccessful in my attempts to get things going now one-and-a-half hours into their performance.
I received my next phone call at 8pm from the company party organizer. She was calling to ask me my “password number” on my DJ computer system. I was very confused, wondering how they have my equipment . . . but they don’t have my DJ. Apparently, a representative at the hotel had informed her that my DJ Justin had left his equipment “locked up” in the audio-visual storage room Friday night after his performance at the same hotel.
After I worked past the obvious state of disbelief, I then turned my displeasure to Justin who neglected to inform me that his equipment was already at the hotel.
Knowing that this was definitely against my company policies, I can only surmise that he did not want to get into any more trouble than he was already in.
After some choice words for Justin, I then proceeded to get the AV representative
from the hotel on the line and walk him through the set-up procedures to get some music up and running. It was 8pm and fortunately they had a delayed start to dinner because of the many co-workers who were also stuck in the ice storm.
By this point it was looking as though there would be a sound system in place with no DJ. Not exactly the way we like to do business . . . but considering the circumstances, this was the best “show must go own” scenario.
I asked the AV guy, Steve, what time he gets off work and was fortunate to learn that his shift was to finish at 10pm. Naturally, I seized the opportunity to ask if he would like to make some money when he gets off of work. He agreed and I proceeded to walk him through instructional techniques so as to utilize the software effectively.
My plan at this point was to keep Steve in this emergency role until I could get there by midnight. After my party concluded at 11pm, I quickly packed up and headed over to the other hotel which was only about three miles away. I arrived to see Steve doing a great job with a full dance floor. I immediately said “hello” to my very understanding longtime client and jumped up on-stage to immediately offer an energetic welcome to the audience. I continued for the next hour-and-a-half to the delight of the audience.
I paid Steve a very generous amount of money and thanked him profusely for saving the day. I realized that night that back-up DJs and back-up equipment are useless if transportation to the event location is impossible. Although my contract protects me from “acts of God” . . . I felt compelled to offer my client a partial refund for the difficulties that could have been avoided.
My first reaction to my DJ’s error in breaking company policy (by storing the equipment at the hotel the night before) was tempered by the fact that this act of disobedience likely saved the day for more than 100 guests who planned all year long for this celebrated event.
This lesson has reinforced my belief in that there is no such thing as cancellation on the part of a DJ. The only cancellation that is real is one where people are turned away at the door because the party organizer has cancelled the event.
For me, the delivery of DJ services is like the U.S. Mail. No matter what the condition or delay . . . we must always get there by whatever means of brainstorming or problem solving that is necessary to complete the responsibility. There are simply too many people that depend upon us.
That’s the cold, hard truth.
Filed Under: Weddings
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