What's the most bizarre gig you've played?
DJ EXPO 2013: When you've been on the road for years, jet setting to a different destination every weekend, it's pretty likely that you've had a few strange experiences. So, we caught up with 25 DJs from every genre and asked them about their most bizarre ever gig.
“A big rave somewhere in Germany in an old military base in the mid 2000s. People behaved strange. Back in the hotel, someone stole my room key at reception and shit everywhere - spread it on the walls and left a note he was waiting for me. I swear it's true... Imagine.
"The hotel wanted to make me pay for the damage! I found out who it was. That night, lots of weird things happened. Everybody got out of their mind, drunk. Strangely, no one knew how. A friend said it's because of the strong waves of the military equipment. We will never know. But that day I also learned that ginger ale can heal a hangover!”
“In Marrakech, a Prince booked me to play then after two records he came up to me saying my music wasn't right. Then after one more track I was politely asked to stop.
"I should never have been there, to be honest, but the situation was handled with class at the venue, so no bad feelings.”
The Third Man
“In a band when I was younger we played a fairly experimental electronic music set. The promoter must have been on acid because we were sandwiched between a soul/jazz band and followed by a young R&B diva who everyone was there to see.
"It was the era of wobbly bass and when I played my keyboard the massively overloud bass knocked a dislodged a light off the overhead racking. It fell on me and smashed and most of the gear at the back of the stage promptly clattered to the floor. We showed them what bass was and totally cleared the room.”
“Hmmm, I've done a few. I did a private party last year that was super bizarre in New York. It was like this brunch/house music party in a secret club, on a Saturday afternoon, with everyone popping bottles of champagne, getting rowdy and schmoozing.
"It was full of high rollers from the city, and it was pretty bizarre for me as it's not the usual crowd I play to. I went off on one and played techno for two hours. I didn't stick around long enough to work out if they liked me or not.
"I've done in-store gigs in clothing shops, which is a bit bizarre to do as well. I prefer dark rooms with a strobe and sweat!”
“It was a party in the reptile hatchery at a zoo in South America. I'm not saying which city as it was not really a legal venue to do a club party. But the invitation stated that you had to come dressed up as your favorite reptile. Extinct or not. So people came dressed as turtles, iguanas, dinosaurs, frogs, crocodiles and snakes.
"It was a pretty cool scene. Dancing reptiles in front of me, and unborn reptiles in their eggs around me as I played. As I still had my dreadlocks, it made sense to have my face painted like the Predator in the '80s Schwarzenegger film. It was wild.”
“Probably Schwerin. I played there with H.O.S.H. three years ago. The DJ before me stopped at 138bpm. I think everything what could go wrong went wrong that night. Bad sound, empty and weird club, strange people... we just wanted to leave as soon as possible.”
“Has to be this one place in England - I will not reveal the club or region, but man what a weird night. A girl decides to knock one of our monitors while we're playing; a fight breaks out with two promoters; and that turns into a brawl with several people all inside the DJ booth. It was awful.”
“We went to a club of 1,000 person capacity. It was packed and the DJ was doing a good warm-up. When we got up into the DJ booth, we started with a big banger... and nothing happened - the people weren’t dancing.
"So we changed the style, and nothing happened again. Finally, during the night we played different styles to see if they would dance to something. So we looked at each other and both said 'WTF is going on with these people?!'
"So, from this comes our statement: 'People moving, not dancing'. At the end of the night the owner of the club said 'See you soon! You guys were amazing tonight!' Hahaha! Things like that you just don’t understand sometimes. But in time you learn and understand that some places are like this every time, no matter who is playing, in different cultures.”
“Most amazing and bizarre was playing Red Rocks in Colorado - it's a natural rock amphitheater that holds 10,000 people. The most beautiful venue I've ever seen. Kids climb up into caves in the walls until people spot them!”
DJ Bootsie from Zagar
“Quite a few years ago I played at a club for a seriously under-promoted party in the Hungarian countryside. There were literally only three people at the whole venue, who were also very drunk.
"The four of us spent my two-hour set together, but they were such hardcore fans they'd even brought my CDs to be signed. I suppose a few colleagues have been in the same situation.”
“I've had a few bizarre gigs over the years - the one that springs to mind most immediately is a New Year's Eve show in Seoul in South Korea a few years ago. The promoter that picked me up from the airport said he'd seen me play at Weekend in Berlin a few months previously so this instantly put me at ease in the sense that he knew what he was getting. All good.
"Then in the car on the way to the show a few hours later he casually says, 'Presumably you wouldn't mind being lowered into the DJ booth in a hydraulic lift?'. I was obviously slightly aghast at this as the first issue that sprang to mind, and what I said to him, was 'Won't it look a bit stupid if I get lowered into the booth and then everything grinds to a halt as I fiddle around loading in my first CD? Shouldn't we have sound-checked this?'.
“We then arrive at the club and there are semi-naked men and women on stage dancing and the DJ is playing Beyonce. Meanwhile I quietly shit myself. About 15 mins before I'm due to start I get led outside into a multi-storey car park above the basement venue and watch as in the corner of the car park the whole of the stage in the club gets lifted up into said car park - so effectively in the club you have no stage, DJ or dancers as they are all in the multi-storey car park above. I am then able to load my CD into the player and seamlessly mix (Big Fun if I remember correctly) into the DJ before me's last track as the entire stage is lowered back into the club during the first 10 seconds of my tune. So in the end it worked out well!”.
“Showing up to a gig and the promoter telling me he couldn't pay 'cause his dad got robbed, then a half hour later seeing his father run out with a garbage bag of cash. Ahhh, the good ol' days.”
“Back in the day, when I was living in America, I had an electronic group and we were once booked to play at a hacker convention in Hartford, Connecticut. Paid pennies but it had a nice cyberpunk ring to it - we thought we'd find ourselves in the club from the Matrix or something.
"We drove from Boston, a 12-hour drive or so. When we got to the place, a massive nerdy bloke driving a decommissioned '80s police car brought us to a Holiday Inn, where the event was being held. It was mostly 30- and 40-somethings doing such things as building Boba Fett masks with Lego and chatting on IRC, maybe to each other. No audible utterances in the room.
"We played at night in the hotel's ballroom on a ludicrous PA, and not a single one of the "hackers" came. The room was tragically empty. On the way back we accidentally drove into Canada at the Niagara Falls crossing.”
“I think my gig at an empty Italian restaurant was the strangest, but the food was excellent.”
“I played at a ladies only night this one time. Me and my friend arrived, pretty excited. Only women were going to be in the room!
"In the end we were happy we were done. The ladies got really violent!. After that night I knew a 50/50 split of men and women really is the best combination.”
“I don't really remember one, but recently I played for New Year's Eve in Asia, and as you know its a real busy day, probably the busiest day of the year. But the promoter didn't think about the fact that the street the club was located in would close for the night as there were around 50,000 people in it.
"So only 2% of the club was full that night because nobody made it through the people into the club. It was a sold out event! Big shame. It was weird, believe me!"
“Last year we played a festival in Brazil in a forest, in the middle of nowhere. It started at 4pm on Saturday and we played the closing set at 8am Sunday morning. It was incredible - huge and with so many people.”
“It was in Belgium. The driver who picked me up from the airport was having a birthday bash before my DJ set and asked me to come along 'because it would be fun', instead of staying in the hotel for a few hours...
"He took me to a field in the rain where a bunch of heavy metal bands were playing and people were running around pouring drinks over each other's heads and going mad. He didn't want to leave to drive to my gig and I didn't want to be stuck in a muddy filed listening to hard metal. I was scared I had just flown to Belgium to listen to thrash metal for the night.
“Often on gigs abroad you are totally at the mercy of the driver or promoter, especially when you cannot speak the language. In the end I persuaded him to take me to the gig. He was very drunk and almost crashed the car on the way. There was a small corridor to the DJ booth from outside the venue - so you did not have to go through the club to the DJ booth - and the smoke machine was on full blast under the stage.
"I didn't see the dancefloor or any part of the club for the entire set and was then ushered out though the same corridor. I have no idea what the club looked like or who was there! All I can remember was standing in a huge cloud of smoke for two hours and the heavy metal bands from earlier that night. “
“A couple years ago in Beijing, China. It was a massive outdoor rock festival and there was a dance stage in it that I played at. Five minutes before the first program started, about 50 young soldiers sent from the army came in and stood in front of the stage facing against the crowd!
"Maybe that was a regulation of the country. We DJs were saying, 'This is real Public Enemy experience!'”
“It was Blackpool in the UK. They gave me one turntable and one cassette deck...”
“I think it has to be in the late '90s when I played at a huge rave directly on the German/Czech border. A friend of mine wanted to eat something, so we headed backstage and there were some old ladies cooking food. We had some mushrooms, which looked like champignons, but we became so sick within a few minutes, getting spots in our faces. Not good as we had a TV interview the next day.
“During the gig I was told that the promoter had disappeared with all the money and, within seconds, everybody, security included, started to steal whatever was possible to carry away. I left the venue and drove to the hotel which was in the Czech Republic, as it was closer then the nearest hotel in Germany.
"When I tried to drive over the border, the border control, who saw us with these mushroom pizza faces, told us to wait a few minutes on the side in the car, as they had problems with the computer. Around ten police men came and took us out of the car, putting us in jail.
“It came out that on Sunday morning at a SIXT rental hotline, a student who was working gave the police the information that my rental car should have been giving back the previous Friday, which was the day I actually rented the car! The guys thought that we wanted to take the car over the border to sell it. After six hours and a few mental conversations with the border control, finally somebody from SIXT corrected the mistake and we were released with a big pardon.”
“Well, here's one thing that was quite bizarre. After a gig in Belarus the owner had ten hookers lined up for us at the VIP table. He mumbled something angry in a strange language and pushed them in with us in the VIP booth...”
“One time we were playing in a club where the whole audience was dressed as animals. We didn't know this, so it was kinda strange to see an elephant flirting with giraffe in front of our DJ booth."
“There are many different stories we could tell but one of our best moments was when we were playing at Igloo Festival in Montreal at -30 degrees - but you have to see and experience it first hand. And something was really weird in Russia, last year at an open air club.
"After a five-hour car ride on really bizarre streets we had to travel the last 30 minutes to the show via an old ski lift but without the gondola and belt!"
“I can tell you the strangest gig I didn’t play! Years ago I was flown to Toronto to play a rave. After dinner, the promoter dropped me at my hotel so I could get a bit of rest before the show, but then he never came back to pick me up!
"I didn’t have the venue address and his phone was off. Luckily, I had been paid upfront, but I never found out what happened to him or his party.”