Take some time.
I’ll admit that sometimes these blogs delve into more personal places than just “being a D.J.” This is one of those instances. Not long ago, I wrote an article about the five year anniversary of the passing of my friend and mentor, Carmen Perris. Not long after that, a long time Dollhouse employee and one of MJP’s greatest friends, David Couch, passed away after a long fight with a terminal illness. He never let it show he was sick, at least not if he could help it. That guy was a powerful personality to the end. We were still reeling from that news when Dollhouse D.J. and “Stripper Nazi” (we say that affectionately) Matt Harris started feeling sick at work. We thought it was just a bad case of food poisoning, turned out it was a case of appendicitis. One so severe that he nearly died not once, but twice; once from the appendix, then a few days later from an infection in his intestines. Within 24 hours, he went from work to emergency surgery, then to recovery with large doses of morphine every four hours. After looking at his X-rays, the doctors were shocked Matt walked into the hospital of his own volition. They told him that most in his condition would’ve been brought in in an ambulance on a gurney. So what’s this have to do with P.A.N.D.A. D.J.s, you may be asking? Something that might not seem obvious when you look at it directly, but this is something we’ve all seen in our careers. One week a co-worker is in the thick of a crazy Friday night and the next you’re sending their family your condolences. The point is, this life is short, so it’s paramount that we take the time to stop and smell the roses.
Most D.J.s only work a few days a week. The hours are usually short, except for the guys that work the opening to close shifts such as The Penthouse Club, New Orleans. Usually there is a break down of day time, swing shift, and night time D.J.s. Because there’s so much free time in between, most D.J.’s take the time to take a real, honest vacation. A quick day trip here or there is always nice or an occasional weekend out of town, but so few take the time to get out and relax. Sometimes it’s just because those schedules, even though they may only be 3 or 4 shifts a week, are so spread out that they cannot get time off. Or there are only a few other D.J.s, and there’s not the possibility of taking a week off. Another way a true getaway can be side tracked is that the owners and operators of the club do not believe that the backup D.J.s can handle the stress of power shifts. These are just a few of the many reasons D.J.s can be stuck in years of perpetual work. Going for that long without time off can start to blur the lines. Work now IS your life. You’re as much a part of the club as one of the bars or the pole. Even when you DO get a vacation, you rarely take the time to relax. Instead, you’re worried about if everything at work is o.k. Or you find yourself having to go to another club because it feels like something’s missing. Even when you’re there, you find yourself critiquing the way things work. Not that you want to, but it’s how conditioning has molded your mind to work. In a way, going through this mental process can be calming when you’ve been in the business for so many years. After all, breaking habits one of the hardest things a human being can do. But I find as I get older that it is vitally important to try to stop myself from doing just that. I take many trips that are both business and pleasure. Checking out new clubs and meeting new P.A.N.D.A.s is now a prerequisite for my vacation destinations. I find it’s a way for me to go and relax and have fun with my friends, while surrendering a bit to the want and need still to be in a club assessing things. I can have a phenomenal dinner at Tootsies and still hear some of the great jocks in the country do their thing. I go home fresh and revitalized with some new ideas in mind to improve my show back at home. I find this is what works best for me. Others just need to get away from it all COMPLETELY. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Find a serene place to unwind. One of my favorites is Cherokee, N.C. Drive up, turn your phone off, and enjoy the clean air. The babbling brooks. The beautiful mountains. Taking this time to decompress is big for the longevity of a D.J.’s career. Remember, it’s only a job. You want to use it to enhance your real life, not make it the only life you have.
I know we can all be guilty of overworking ourselves. Sometimes the only time we take to ourselves is when we get sick or when we lose our jobs. I believe this is an important thing to be kept in mind. Don’t get so completely locked into your profession that you do not enjoy yourself. Hobbies are very important. Family and friends are, too. Make sure to schedule some time away for just yourself and the ones you love. Or else, you can put all those of years of hard work into a savings account for a retirement that you’ll never get to see. It’s all about living your life to it’s fullest. Please keep this in mind and keep your head and your heart healthy. I truly hope all of us heed this advice; myself included. As always, thank you so much for reading.
D.J. Ron James
Thee New Dollhouse, North Myrtle Beach, SC