The Not So Glamorous Life of A Female DJ in Manila

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When I tell people that I DJ, I get mixed reactions from “Oh that’s so cool!” to “Really? You don’t look like one.” Not a lot of people understand what happens behind the booth or even before we get there, while we’re at home digging for tracks and practicing for hours. I’ve seen stories in the past that touch on what it’s like to be a DJ in Manila or “Five things you shouldn’t ask a DJ,” but I wanted to give a female’s point of view. Things that I have noticed and experienced for the past two years or so.

The Bad

There is nothing worse than someone coming up to you in the middle of your set to insult you (requests are a close second). Yes, this happens and honestly way too often. I use the word “insult” because I have people come up to me with constructive criticism, which I greatly appreciate. However, some people love to get nasty with it. I have gotten like “Can you play good music?” and my all time favorite “Your music is boring.” More often than not these insults come from other girls, which really upsets me because we already live in a world where women are treated as lesser beings compared to men. Is it really necessary to bring another girl down and power trip? I think not. In situations like this, I try to brush it off and not let it affect the rest of my set.

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Now we move on to that creepy guy who stands at the corner of the booth. I’m sure you’ve all encountered that one guy at the club who doesn’t know how to take a hint. I too have come face to face with these guys. They’ll try to start a conversation, pretend to love the song I dropped, and basically just stand there. I have gotten a, “I’m a DJ too, can I play some tracks?” Until an hour later when they realize that I’m too busy mixing songs for everyone to groove to.

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“Never request a song from the DJ.” People think it’s a joke but it is far from it. This doesn’t just go for women but DJs in general. Before we go to a gig, a lot of preparation goes into it. We dig for songs and we categorize the songs we think will fit together and the vibe of the night. Once we get to the venue, we take it in. We gauge the crowd and the place. Once we play our first song, there is a string of possible next songs that we’re thinking of. So when you come up requesting a Bruno Mars song or something from your phone, just know that it’s not going to happen. “But you’re a DJ, that’s you job.” Quite the opposite actually, switching roles and I am in the audience, the sets that I enjoy the most are the ones that surprise me. The ones where I let the DJ take control of my musical journey and I discover tracks that I wouldn’t have known.

The Good

I have met the most passionate and supportive people. I have friends who book me regularly and ones who show up to my gigs to support. In high school and even in college I had a difficult time making friends and it was only two years ago when I started to meet people who were just as passionate about music and the culture that comes with it. I have been able to surround myself with people who want to see me do well and help me as best they can.

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It is a constant learning experience. Not all sets are good ones; there will always be moments where I say, “That could have been better.” The key, as with everything in life, is to move forward. Take note of what could be improved and work on it.

The reason why I started DJ-ing in the first place is because I needed some sort of creative way to let my feelings out and I ended up falling in love with it. Yes, it is still very therapeutic but other than that it is something I really enjoy doing. When I’m behind the booth, my laser focus kicks in to the point where I lose track of time.

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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