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Ronnie Joice

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The Lonely Life of the Warmup DJ

Posted: 17/04/2012 16:19

There's a lot of fantastic DJs out there and a lot of them live a life once reserved only for rock stars, some are even considered as famous as rock stars of old, and some are certainly even richer than most pop stars, old and new.
 
But when the hotel pool parties are over and the private jets have run out of fuel, who are the little guys who are still playing at 8am when the ravers are still gurning or at 6pm when the group of office workers are starting their weekends in Yates?
 
Well it's the same as most industries, and he's the little one known as The Warmup Guy. This is the guy (or girl) who is there before the event starts, gets zero attention when he plays, and is usually there purely as filler.
 
I was once that guy, and when you begin, it's the most disheartening place to be on Earth. You see, as egotistically rewarding being entrusted to play your own selection of tunes may be, ultimately if nobodies actually paying any notice to them, you can begin to feel a little redundant somewhat.
 
I remember my first ever DJ set very well. A club promoter had called me and asked if I wanted to DJ in a poky little East London basement one Friday night.
 
Now let me explain how excited I was. It begins with V and ends with an ERY. Yet, unlike the  superstar DJs who are blessed with high platforms, security and  over-zealous management stopping  punters  asking for requests, The Warmup Guy gets no choice in the matter. In fact, most club DJs get no choice in the matter.
 
So there I am, loaded with a weeks worth of audio revision, an hour's worth of the best indie classics and alternative b-sides I could find and as I dropped Blur's 'When The Cows Go Home' I knew I had the bug. But I was just The Warmup Guy and I quickly learned two things:
 
One. That as a disc jockey in a public venue, you are permitted, at all times, to carry the classics. This can vary from playing at a gay wedding and not having Lady Gaga and Beyonce's 'Telephone' (nightmare) or simply being asked to play 'You Can Call Me Al' and having only decided you like 'Gracelands'.
 
Two. As The Warmup Guy, you may run into situations where nobody gives a flying monkeys about what is being played in the background. In fact, being that guy can be a bloody lonely thing. You can be stood in a small wooden booth watching the public coverse, laugh, dance and drink the night away whilst you sip away on a beer, knowing that you are practically drinking alone and into alcoholism.
 
Of there is also a bonus number three.   Which is that  you can also sometimes play exactly whatever the fuck you like because the volume is too low for it to make a difference or there isn't actually anyone in the venue yet, but this is  also  counteracted by the vulnerability you earn by being The Warmup Guy.
 
Anywhere there is alcohol, there's a boozer. And he's usually done everyone's head in already. Or he's a back seat DJ (this is also common in pro DJs when drunk). Or he just wants a friend to chat to. Whatever  his disposition, I can guarantee you that he will be the most annoying person in the  room and for a small moment time, the entire world. No, scratch that - he'll be the most annoying atom in the whole universe.
 
You see, as you've finally found solace in the fact that you've resigned yourself to being The Warmup Guy, playing out to an empty or disinterested room, you're about to meet the most talkative, interested and irritating human being that ever lived. And if you think the silent treatment works... it doesn't.
 
These types are clever. They are on their own, and their whole purpose is to be seen to be "with somebody", and you are the number one and easiest target in the world right now. You're the man who politely receives a high give for that Pixies track, exasperatingly, and then they've got you. Suckered.
 
"What's the..." and suddenly you're enthraling him with your record collection and trying to dodge questions like bullets that on any given Sunday in the pub you'd be pleased to answer but the Chese and Onion crisps/Prawn canapés (depending on the event) only add to the air of disinterest that you are trying so hard to show whilst being polite and still talking. 
 
Depending on the event depends on how much you're going to be punished for looking bone idle earlier on. They may be high as kite and offer you drugs. Or be drunk as a skunk and buy you beers. As you were told as kids: JUST SAY NO. These are musical paedophiles, preying on the weak and vulnerable DJs who haven't got enough klout to be arrogant enough to tell someone to "piss off" neither who has the stature of someone unapproachable.
 
Suddenly all those dreams of thinking playing your own tunes on a big sound system are dashed as all you can hear is a sonic wave of earache, as the bloke on his own who's just been kicked out of the pub down the road for requesting too much speed garage, is suddenly telling you an incredible band or genre of music that you should definitely be playing and worse still, they've got it with them on their iPod/CD/vinyl (delete as desperate as your situation gets).
 
So what does one do in this situation? Knowing you're hopeless and there's no way you have the lack of heart to break his, how do you deter The World's Most Annoying Man? Well, this is where the dreams of being The Warmup DJ are replaced by a new sinister, newer DJ. Gone are your rock sensibilities and true-to-your-roots ethos you thought you'd never abandon.
 
Oh no. Now it's time to become DJ C*nt. And with only victim in sight, and knowing that there is no way you have any rockabilly that originated from South Wales, it's time to bust out the pop music. And I'm not just talking about any old music. You need to revolt the bloke so badly that not only will you make him throw up in his pint and possibly convult, but will be so fucking terrified of you that he'll be the one avoiding YOU.  
 
Suddenly something changes in the room too. You've gone from being the typical Warmup DJ to suddenly being a WHAT THE FUCK IS HE PLAYING DJ and provided you're not in a pub in Glasgow on match day, your attractiveness to the opposite sex will shoot through the room, and world famous supermodels will flock to the dance floor as they remember and recite all the words to S Club 7's "Don't Stop Moving" and the entire dance floor follows and suddenly, you, sir, are the fucking king of the decks.  At this point, also dance as crazy and camp as you can - this will add further disgust  in the mind of The World'a Most Annoying Man.
 
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how my clubnight Ronnkie Pop was born, and how I'll never have to endure another request or The Most Annoying Man In  The Room and hey, you might even find a girlfriend at the end of the night too (never happened to me, mind). So next time you are in a bar or a party and you see the lonely Warmup DJ stood in the corner, minding his own business, just remember - he's doing just that. He wants to be left alone, and if he wants to join the party later he will do, but let him do it on his own accord, yeah?

 

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