Tales From The DJ Booth: Volume 1

Published August 2007 in Exotic

Having DJ’d at strip clubs for three years, I’m finally starting to get a feel for the industry. Aside from being morally and economically corrupt, the strip-club scene is home to plenty of tragedy and despair. However, much of this isn’t seen, but rather heard. Here I explore the essential but often unknown elements of strip-club music, the purpose it serves and what you, the customer, can do to help.

DJs usually carry around 80 gigs of music, or 15,000 songs. Feel free to choose among all of them.

"Motley who?" That’s my response to the asshole holding a twenty spot and requesting "Girls Girls Girls." We strip-club DJs spend day and night getting yelled at by dancers for not playing enough 50 Cent or Marilyn Manson. We are glad to take customer requests, because it allows us to blame offbeat music choices on the customer and strippers are somehow cooler with this than when we select random/bizarre music on our own. Tell me, then, why the fuck would you waste good money on requesting a song that the dancer will like? Dude, you’ve got twenty on it, so use it! Spin some GG Allin or request "Inna Gadda Da Vida" before handing the DJ a Bud and telling him to take a break. But for the love of Lemmy, don’t waste another twenty bucks on "This is Why I’m Hot."

Unless you don’t hear it five times a day in shopping malls and drive-throughs, it’s not "your song."

"Crazy Bitch" by Buckcherry. "Cherry Pie" by ICP. "Fuck Her Gently" by Tenacious D. These are all highly innovative and humorous songs, until you hear drunk frat boys scream "Zanzibar!" for the fourth time in one night. Although, as one dancer insists, "Crazy Bitch" is, "like, totally my song, ‘cause I’m such a craaaazy bitch," find me one stripper who isn’t a crazy bitch and I’ll pay for the ice-skate rentals in hell. When a dancer requests Lion’s "Transformers Theme," then we’ll talk about setting up a folder for "her" songs on my laptop.

There is music that was recorded before 1992, some of which never appeared on BET.

As I was introducing myself to a new dancer the other day while working at a club that, according to management, intends to "steer away from a strictly urban environment" (cough, cough), I met Starlight (not her real fake name). Starlight informed me that she likes "all kinds of music," and I quote, "I like everything. Hip-hop and R&B." Wow. What diversity. Another stripper named Natasha informed me that she likes "old-school stuff, like Manson’s Antichrist album, or the first Metallica album, Load." I’m a twenty-seven-year-old music geek. When a fifty-year-old meth addict makes me feel old, it’s time for a reality check.

Dancers are at "work" (noun—energy expended in an attempt to achieve an economic end). Customers employ dancers.

Why aren’t the indie rockers tipping you out for dancing to T Pain? Why aren’t the brothers getting to the rack when you request Toby Keith at full volume? After several seconds of extremely basic research, one can find the answer to the phenomenon known as "tipping." See, customers are prepared to pay "money" for a "show" given to them by a "dancer." These "shows" range from three to four minutes, a perfect amount of time in which to play a "song." "Songs," which are played during "shows," are either appreciated or not appreciated by "customers." Therefore, playing a "song" that the "customer" likes results in "tips," and this makes "rational sense." I’ve lost the point, haven’t I? You dancers aren’t getting this, are you? Sigh...too complex. On to the next point...

"Dancers" are expected to "dance" to the music that the DJ plays.

This seemingly obvious fact tends to be coupled with an extremely paradoxical phenomenon. Take, for instance, the following example: "Look, mister DJ, if there aren’t customers at my rack, I’m not dancing to this shit!" When there’s no customers at your rack, you’re not dancing. If a stripper is sitting on the edge of the stage eating chicken strips and arguing with their boyfriend on the phone, what does it matter if Slayer is coming out of the speakers? Even when there’s one or two customers at the rack, dancers usually just sit there, hustling a private dance. By the time a full rack is expecting a show, one of the customers has most likely requested a song that the dancer "can’t dance to." Enter the mandatory yelling-from-stage-about-themusic, at which point the guys in Skinny Puppy shirts get up from the rack and leave. By the time the bitchy dancer gets her way, the rack is empty again. "Where Is The Love" pumps out of the stereo, while customers wait patiently at the bar for the next girl. Amazing.

Most songs use a four-beat pattern—if you can dance to Ice Cube, you can dance to Sublime.

Kick, snare, repeat. Got that? When a dancer says that she "can’t dance" to a song, she’s basically saying, "Hey, it’s been too long since I’ve made an impossible request." Even if offered a cash prize, I couldn’t begin to tell you the compositional difference between "Shake That Ass," "Ass Like That," and "Back That Ass Up." Yet, I have yet to get away with that three-song set without a complaint from the dancer. Worst of all, this phenomenon results in apologetic customers. "Hey man, I’d love to hear Atmosphere, but I don’t know if Destiny will like it." Fuck Destiny! Destiny spends all day in her comfort zone and Atmosphere is the best thing to happen to her set since drink specials. Personally, I get what I want from my money. My buddies and I will tip no less than five dollars a song, but the girl is shaking her ass to GBH. If she can’t seem to find the cadence, she loses money. Simple as that.

(click here for more Tales From The DJ Booth)