How do I get my first job?

First, have some business cards printed up. You want something with your name, email address and all your cell phone number. Unless you live alone or have a very reliable roommate, don't include your home phone number. You don't want to risk missing a message. If you live alone or have a private line that nobody else answers, include your home phone but make sure you have reliable voice mail.

I would recommend going with the phone company voice mail rather than using an answering machine. These systems can take messages even if your line's busy. Very often, a DJ doesn't show up for work, gets mad and quits or is fired for getting hammered during his shift. When this happens, the manager starts calling everyone on his list and sometimes the first DJ he's able to reach gets the job or the shift.

When the club dials your number, you don't want to miss that call. If a club needs a replacement in a hurry, they aren't going to wait around for you to call them back. They'll keep calling every DJ they know. If you're trying to get into that club, don't blow the opportunity by being unreachable.

When it comes to voice mail, keep your outgoing message brief and avoid any cute or joke messages. When someone is in a hurry to leave you a message, the last thing they want to hear is a joke message they've heard a hundred times or thirty seconds of background music before you begin to speak. Speaking of voice mail, whenever you leave a message for someone else, give your phone number at the beginning of the message.

Why the beginning?

Have you ever had someone leave a long rambling message and they realize that their time so is almost up so they give their number in about three seconds? You only catch the first few digits and then you have to listen to the whole message again. So leave your number at the beginning and then repeat it again at the end. Be sure to speak slowly when leaving your number, too.

THE FOUR BASIC TYPES OF STRIP CLUBS:

Gentlemen's Clubs: These are the more upscale clubs catering to the white-collar crowd. They are often large; feature an expensive décor, full food & beverage menu and the highest caliber dancers. These clubs feature primarily topless dancing but in some cities, like Atlanta, they are totally nude. The drink prices will usually be much higher than a regular nightclub. The dancers will usually earn most of their money from table dances (or lap dances, private dances, couch dances, etc.) This is where the real money is for a DJ if the club allows you to accept tips.

Topless Bars, Strip Clubs: These clubs attract the more bluecollar & middle class clientele. You'll find both topless and fully nude clubs in this category. The emphasis is usually on the stage performances. The entertainers may or may not do table dances. Some of these clubs will have a full food menu and other will have a limited menu. There will probably be some very attractive girls but not as many as you'd find in a Gentlemen's Club. The drink prices will be similar or only slightly higher than a regular nightclub.

BYOB Clubs: With some exceptions, these clubs usually attract a blue-collar to middle class clientele. They may feature totally nude entertainers or bikini-clad dancers that don't take anything off. The patrons will pay a high cover charge ($20 and up) and will be able to bring in their own beer or liquor. The club will then sell them set-ups to mix their own drinks. While there may be exceptions, you will probably find the girls to be less attractive than entertainers in topless bars or gentlemen's clubs. Table Dances may be available depending on local laws.

Go-Go Bars, Strip Joints: These are the smaller lounges that primarily attract a blue-collar clientele. They usually have only a handful of dancers either working topless or totally nude. Many clubs at this level use a jukebox rather than a DJ but there are some exceptions. If the club is safe and fairly clean, it can be a good place for you to start if you want to get some polish before going after the bigger clubs. I started out working day shift in a club like this. Some of these clubs have their own house dancers while others have girls brought in by an agency on a rotating basis.

Make a list of all the strip clubs in your area. Unless you've had previous experience as a club, radio or mobile DJ, I'd recommend starting out in a smaller club. As a beginner, you're far more likely to find a job at a smaller club than one of the larger clubs and you'll be able to get some experience under your belt before moving on to a bigger club assuming that's your goal. You don't have to stay there long; just until you get comfortable with the routine. That may be a week or it may be a month or two (or longer) depending on your abilities, comfort level and what other opportunities exist in your area.

Smaller clubs usually have only ten or twelve girls per shift (or less) so it's easier for you to learn their names and preferred music than if you're dealing with 50 girls. Which clubs on your list fit the bill?

You may wonder why it would be better to start out in a smaller club with a dozen girls rather than try to get weekend shifts at a larger club that might have 20 dancers. I've found that in the smaller clubs, the girls are usually more willing to go onstage.

In the larger clubs, the girls are used to going onstage once a night and many will complain and argue with you about having to go up more than one or two times. And this is especially true if the dancers know you're a rookie. That's less of a problem in a smaller club and that's important when you are just starting out.

I'd rather see you focus your energy on mastering the basic skills at this point. Then, when you do make a move to a larger club, you'll be a better DJ and more likely to get the cooperation you need from the dancers.

By now, you should be following the advice I've given you about checking out other DJs and maybe you've already gotten to the point where you know how to operate the gear. If you haven't, now's the time to start. Ask your new DJ friends for advice about a good club to start out in.

Once you've found a couple of likely candidates, call each club and ask them what time is shift change? Try and stop by each club at least one hour before shift change. This way, you'll be able to hear both the daytime and nighttime DJ in one visit. Be sure and ask one of the dancers or your waitress if the DJ is the regular guy or the relief guy. Try and find out what the DJ schedule is so you can arrange to hear all three DJs.

Hopefully, you'll get a talkative waitress or dancer sitting with you that'll fill you in on the DJ situation. You may have to tip a few different girls or buy a few drinks but the information you'll get will be worth it.

Make sure you maintain a friendly tone and don't sound like a detective or stalker because some club employees tend to be a bit paranoid. The best thing to tell the girls is that you're interested in becoming a DJ and want to learn more about the business. Don't necessarily tell them that you're looking for a job in their club unless they bring it up. (You may unwittingly be talking to the DJ's girlfriend and she may be afraid you'll try and take his job). Usually, you'll find that the girls will tell you right away how they feel about the DJs they work with.

You may find out that the club is already looking for another DJ in which case you're in luck. Ask to speak to the manager and find out if they're willing to train you. If not, visit the other small clubs on your list and repeat the process.

If you don't find an opening or a potential opening at any of the clubs on your list, pick the club you felt the most comfortable in and start working on getting to know all their DJs. Why all of them? Because the club may be interested in replacing one of their DJs and you may be talking to the soon to be replaced one.

If you can befriend the DJs, I recommend that over speaking to the manager when seeking your first job. The manager is going to want to hear you audition right away whereas the DJ is more likely to let you hang out first until you feel comfortable auditioning. Rememberl, these guys had to audition to get their jobs, too, so they can remember what it's like. Spend as much time getting to know the booth and the system as the other DJ is willing to let you.

Once you know the basic procedures, some DJs will be more than happy to take a half hour break and let you run the show during a slow period and this is valuable experience for you. Even if there isn't an opening at the club, take advantage of the opportunity to get some valuable experience.

The best way to accomplish this is to just make an offer to the DJ. Offer to help pull music, clean up the booth and spell him for a bit if he'll show you a few pointers and let you do a few sets during the slow periods. Often, a DJ will be happy to have someone to talk to when business is slow, especially during day shift. Other DJs will be happy to be able to take a break to grab a bite to eat without having to rush. If he says no, try the DJs at all the clubs on your list until you find a DJ willing to give you a shot. If you read the story at the beginning of "Getting Started", you'll know that this is exactly how I got started.

How do I prepare for an audition?

Ask the DJ or manager how long they'd like you to audition. Usually, they'll want you to run through two or three sets. Make sure you're comfortable running the gear before you audition. If not, get whatever questions you have answered first. Find out about any specials the club may have that are basic enough for you to improvise a promo spot for. (See the “On the Job” section for details on how to write promos.)

Ask the DJ to either select the music for the girls you'll be working with or see if he'll ask the girls for you. Ideally, you'll have all your music written down and pulled before you start to audition. If the girls are going from one stage to another or several stages, make sure you have their names in order so that you can mention them during the set. "That's Julie on the main stage, Carol on stage 2 and Susie on the VIP stage."

If the girls aren't getting tipped onstage and it's appropriate to the club you're auditioning in, try and motivate the guys to get up and tip. If you've been listening carefully to other DJs, you'll know what to say to get the guys to tip.

Be sure and throw in some of your promos between sets reminding the customers that girls are available for table dances, to tip waitresses and bartenders, etc. Promos are where you really have an opportunity to shine during the audition. If you've been practicing regularly, you should be able to make a good impression.

It's normal to be nervous while auditioning. I certainly was the first few times I did it. Just take a deep breath and relax. Have a drink if you think it will relax you but make sure that it's ok with the club and definitely limit yourself to one.

If you've followed my advice, you've been practicing at home and listening to yourself on tape regularly. This is where that practice time pays off. Also, keep in mind that the manager and DJ will realize that you're going to be nervous during an audition and will factor that in to any decision they make.

You may be asked to DJ for a longer period after your initial sets. Sometimes the manager gets distracted or called away from the floor during your audition or he may just want to hear you a bit longer. Remember, hiring a new DJ is a critical decision for the manager and they want to be certain they're making the right choice.

Once your audition is finished, be sure and thank the manager for letting you audition, the DJ for his help and thank the girls, too. The club may give you an answer right away or they may want to audition other DJs before making a decision. Ask the manager or DJ when they plan to make a decision or when you can call them back. Make sure you give both the manager and the DJ your business card. Also ask when is the best time to call.

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