What to do when no one shows up for your DJ gig

I had a pretty terrible gig last Saturday night. You can listen to my dancefloor-clearing set here:

To those of you who did show up, thank you. I adore you.

What to do when no one shows up for your DJ gig


  1. Understand that this is your dharma.

    It is your duty to play your tunes with heart and soul, with a spring in your step — even if no one else is there.Your tunes? They’re good, and they’re being played, outside your bedroom, and that means the music is spreading, because of you.

    You chose to be a DJ.

    This is your path.

    Accept it.

  2. Think about why you chose to do this in the first place. Was it to impress people? To wink at strange, beautiful women, and high-five your bros?

    Or was it something greater, something deeper, something more profound?

  3. Order all the drinks to which your bar tab entitles you, and then drink them quickly, before the bar staff decides that you’re not worth serving.
  4. Practice ambitious transitions that you can show off at your next gig. Polish your skills.
  5. Experiment with the flanger effect, then decide once and for all that you’ll never use it again.
  6. DJ with your eyes closed for a bit, just to see if you can.
  7. Listen to the music. Don’t be distracted by buttons and lights and screens — you’re a student of sound.
  8. Thank your manager for getting you this gig.
  9. Accept that you are nothing without Abhishek Bardia.
  10. Scan the room. Look outside. Evaluate the situation. If it’s clear that the handful of people still here are only here to support the opening act, let him play. It’s his night, not yours.
  11. If your first three tunes clear the floor, re-think what you’re doing. Next time, try to entertain people more, without trying to educate them so much.
  12. Ruminate over art’s central irony: only you know whether what you’re doing is any good.

    If you truly are good, if you’re doing your best and you believe in what you have to say, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

    You can’t trust other peoples’ opinions. Your friends will tell you they think you want to hear.

    And strangers?

    Who gives a fuck what they think?

  13. The hero’s journey must include lessons in humility.

    Without an audience, a DJ is nothing. Tonight, you failed to gather an audience.

    Accept that you neglected an important part of your responsibility.

    Half-hearted text messages and Whatsapp broadcasts aren’t good enough.

    Resolve to do better next time.

    Because if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will.

    So promote yourself properly, dammit.

  14. Don’t be sad. You’re still better off than the thousands of other people sitting at home, wondering if they’d be any good behind the decks, but never made a move.You bit the bullet. You bought a DJ controller. You took action. You made a choice.

    Your entire life has led you to this dancefloor. So what if it’s empty?

  15. Reflect upon your new-found admiration for those DJs who do pull people to their gigs, no matter what. They’re at the top for a reason. What more can you learn from them?
  16. Cut short your set, for dignity’s sake, and find a decent afterparty, where one of your friends can worry about the music for a while, and you can just just schliche a few and chill.
  17. Do not text your ex-girlfriend.
  18. Understand that it’s not you who’s on trial. You’re not being judged, and neither was the music. You just didn’t invest enough thought and preparation into promoting this gig.
  19. Don’t brood. You’re not entitled to anything. DJing is just like everything else in life: success is earned.

    Triumph comes when you endure the pain.

  20. On the way home, think about what you would have done differently.And do it differently, next time.

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