How Professional DJs Deal with Harassment

Posted by | · · | DJs · Events

There is a lot of discussion right now about appropriate conduct between men and women, in both social situations and professional ones — discussion that is long overdue.

This conversation also must include the world of DJing, which historically has a certain “bro-y” culture to it, and in which female DJs are becoming more and more active and prominent; breaking down barriers that for too long have defined DJ performances as a masculine area.

As more and more ladies get behind the decks — like the fabulous and super-talented DJ crew here at LUXELIFE — they can encounter negative experiences with members of the crowd, which go from being a jerk (more on that here) to being aggressive and harassing. Let me be exceedingly clear, I’m not saying it’s only men doing this, but we all know the dynamics of the world we live in. It’s 2018 not 1998, that mess does not fly anymore, nor should it.

So in the spirit of bringing much-needed discussion of totally unacceptable and borderline creepy behaviour, I asked some of the LUXELIFE DJs to share their thoughts on how they professionally respond to an audience member who crosses the line.

LUXELIFE co-founder DJ Lissa Monet

Depending on the situation and how relentless the person is, I start off very subtle — doing things like answering with one word answers, or pointing to my headphones to indicate that I can’t hear what they’re saying.

The more aggressive they get the more aggressive I get with my response (without getting unprofessional of course). Once it gets unbearable, I will approach the client and inform them of the situation to handle it.

DJ Steph Honey

To avoid harassing situations while playing I usually try to keep conversations short to ensure the person knows that now is not the time to talk or have a long conversation. Of course, while still being polite.

If it goes to a point where it’s getting uncomfortable I usually find a way to remind the person that I am at work at the moment and I need to concentrate on what I am doing. If it goes past that then I would speak to the event point of contact about the person. This goes for males and females.

DJ Bianca Lee

Tell them you need to focus right now on the crowd and maybe offer a business card and suggest connecting after (if that’s something the DJ is into).

A less personal approach is to give them your social handle and tell them you’re happy to connect via social after the gig (again reinforcing that you need to focus right now). If they don’t get the hint, alert an organizer of the event or staff and they will usually take care of it (or they’ll get security to).

I have a few thoughts as well:

  • Be direct with the person and just let them know you’re working and you can’t speak. In my experience, being direct is the fastest most effective approach to get someone to leave you alone.
  • Make sure you know in advance of your event who the point of contact is on-site. Remember their face, get their cell phone number and keep it handy in case you need to text them if you’re not able to step away from your booth or if you can’t get their attention.
  • Always ask the point person if there is security on site (just for your own information) and note who they are and where they’re standing
  • If you’re on a gig for a booking agency, make sure to tell your manager (or whomever handles your bookings) immediately so they know what’s happening. They are usually in contact with event organizers regularly and they can alert someone to the situation fairly quickly.

To wrap this up, I want to underline that both DJ and audience member have responsibilities during a live-music event — the DJ to be professional and respond to any situation appropriately, and the audience member to be respectful of the DJ both as a working performer and as a human being.

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