I Once DJed a Catholic High School Prom. It Was a Living Hell
[Editor's Note: Recently, Heard Mentality received an email from local DJ who told us about the worst gig he ever played. It happened to be at J.Serra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano. We felt bad for the poor guy because of his shitty experience. We also thought it was funny as hell. And since it's prom season, we figured we'd share it with you.]
Fabian Ortiz Not the actual DJ writing this...
By: Drue Mitchell
First off I want to say, that I am going to just tell you guys what happened. By no means is this malicious, or vengeful, and I do not want to offend anyone. There are two reasons I say this. Number 1 is that an extended family member is the one who got me the gig referral, although she doesn't work for JSerra High School anymore (*go figure). Number 2 is that I am the eldest son of a car dealer, and I grew up going to an affluent private school until high school. SO, I know that even though it is a different life and would like to point out, that these kids and children do not choose this life, just like anything else they are born into it. But, having said that, they DO choose how they will act and an unfortunate side effect is entitlement, and that is where the authority issue that seemed to plague my situation stems from. I have been a professional wedding & event DJ for over 10 years and I wish I was joking when I say the gig I did for J. Serra was the worst DJ gig I have ever done.
I was asked by my extended family member (*lets call her Tammi to protect her) who was working in the after-school activities department to DJ the high school's Homecoming a few years ago. She hired me several months before the event and told me there would be some vendor forms, and insurance things we'd need to get done beforehand. I have played fancy hotels and flown to do gigs all over the US so I understand that and have a real booking agent that I am contracted, licensed, insured and bonded through. The first visit to JSerra was not bad, it was around lunchtime for the students, I had a small tour of the place and had to get the schematics of the gym I was playing in. We were going to meet and talk about the gig, what they were expecting, and so forth. The student girls were just as you'd expect, little OC hottie miss know-it-alls, but they were ok.
As I started to tell them about the sound we were going to need and the cost, the school officials that were present started to shrink, and tell me that it was going to be too much and asked if there was anyway we go a cheaper route. Let me stop and say that this gym was HUGE, we were going to need thousands of dollars worth of sound and its not just something you can plug into a wall, we would need outside power (*basically a generator). The student planners were adamant about the extra lighting, color and placement of that lighting. There was a theme to the dance and the lighting had to match. Like most big gigs like this, I let them tell me what they want, I quote them a price, simple. It's the way most vendors work, right? People, if you want the BMW of sound and lighting, you can't pay a used '99 Volvo price. After a long back-n-forth about the pricing of the quotes we finally reached an agreement.
Contacting the company I outsource the gear for the bigger gigs, I booked all the sound and lighting and since it did require a generator, I had to hire one of their guys to help me for set up and tear down. Meanwhile, at JSerra, some of the school staff involved changed, or also got involved and I guess they saw the invoice I had sent them and Tammi contacts me saying, "Hey, the asst. asst. principal wants to talk to you about how much everything is, can you come talk to her?"
Back down I go for another midday meeting. This time sitting in the waiting room of the principals office, I see one of the student girls that was in the previous meeting and I look up and say hello. She scoffs out loud and I can hear her friend says,"Who is that?" After 45-minute wait, I get to see this other principal lady. She goes on to wear me out about the pricing as well, at this time I started to get a feeling down in my gut that I might want to flip this to another DJ, but they had already signed all the contracts, just getting the school to approve the amount of my quote I guess was the problem. I told her she could make it less if there was not so much extra lighting, but the sound was going to need to stay the same if they wanted it to fill the whole gym. She chopped off a few hundred dollars of lighting and told me she would talk to Tammi and the students involved about the change.
Fast forward to the night of the gig, I got there 3 hours ahead of the agreed-upon time frame just because I still had a bad feeling about it. As the sound engineer and I set up and dialed in the sound I had the lighting rigs sitting where they were going to be, the student decoration crew come in and who is leading the charge? Ms. Snootypants from the principal office. She walks up to me and says, "Ummmmh where is the rest of the lighting?" I told her that principal rolled the budget back and cut some of the extras. As the steam rise out of her ears, she said, (and I quote) "That fuckin' bitch she doesn't know what she is talking about! Go get it!" I tried to explain to her that the rental company is not open on Saturdays and its in East Anaheim, she continued to lambaste with colorful profanity the assistant principal and in frustration yell at the other students to hurry up.