PARIS-HILTON“Last night a DJ saved my life/Last night a DJ saved my life from a broken heart.” – Indeep

If you don’t know that lyric or have never heard the song from which it comes from then you most certainly do not deserve to be a DJ. Please look into another profession – maybe something like craft brewing or app design. As it is with lawyers, the world probably does not need any more DJs. We are good with the ones we have. This rock we all live on called Earth is just too small for any more people wanting to work the ones and twos.

It seems like anyone can be a DJ these days. Thanks (or no thanks) to technology all you really need is your laptop, some software, and some kickass speakers. And if you can afford a really good lighting package and maybe even a smoke machine then you are on your way to become something special in today’s DJ world.

The late, great Jam Master Jay must be spinning in his grave (both himself and his vinyl).

I recently saw an Internet ad for DJ classes that exclaimed, “Learn To DJ and Make Extra Cash At Parties!” Now because I have a brain and I do not click onto Internet ads, I do not know what was offered in these online classes. But if I had to guess I would say they offer courses not only in mixing but also “How To Look Like You Know What Each Knob Actually Does,” “Nodding Your Head 101,” and “Advanced Raising Your Hands In The Air.”

I asked a friend of mine who is a working party DJ in Chicago about the recent influx of DJs into the work force and here is what he said: “It’s a cash grab. DJing has become infinitely more accessible due to technology. I’m totally cool with more DJs as hobbyists – hell, that was how I first got into the game. But those looking to turn themselves into some sort of Tiesto or Avici after taking a class or two are kidding themselves.”

I then asked him how can you spot a DJ who knows his or her s*#t from a poser and he said, “Basically, anytime you see a DJ without any headphones even in the vicinity — he’s working with a lot of pre-made s**t and doing very little live.” And isn’t that kind of the basic point of a DJ?  To take music that is not played live but to give you the feeling that it’s still spontaneous?  Shouldn’t learning how to read the crowd and improvise on the spot be a crucial element in DJing? Says my DJ friend: “Reading a crowd is hard to teach, though they’ll let you know if you are sucking.” (Note: I can attest to this. I did a little DJing for my fraternity in college, and by “DJing” I mean, “changing cds.” I once completely cleared the party room by playing the Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” because a girl I really liked requested the song. She ended up banging one of my fraternity brothers.)

Jesse De La Pena, a respected and popular DJ for years in the Chicago club scene, says of the DJ trend, “I like that folks are interested in spinning. The problem is some want to skip steps and go right to being superstars without really knowing how to properly DJ. There is a really corny image of what a DJ is nowadays, fist pumping characters who wear very colorful clothes and do more pretending than actual DJing.” (Witness Andy Samberg’s “When Will The Bass Drop.” which is so brilliantly ridiculous and one hundred percent spot on that it should be taught in DJ classes as what not to do.)

Cause when you think about it, who wouldn’t want to learn how to be a DJ? Great hours, cool people, everyone worshipping you – what’s not to like? Besides, it looks easy. So easy in fact that in recent years Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, and Justin Beiber have all tried their hand at DJing. If those three geniuses can do it, anyone can. And that is exactly the problem when new technology takes over an art form. States De La Pena:

“I personally like the technology. There are so many things you can do with the digital programs that we could never have done back in the day. The flip side is that the game has been cheapened. Anyone who buys these programs feels like they are on the same level as the pros, even when the program is doing the work.”

So maybe we need to treat the professional DJ like a sacred natural resource and let it grow and blossom organically. Maybe we need a moratorium on the number of DJs allowed in the world. Or, at the very least, not allow Paris Hilton to get behind the turntables. Ever. Again.

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