attitudes towards etiquette divide people, but i fall into the category of individuals who appreciate and enjoy codes of social conduct. i love browsing books on etiquette, from emily post's early editions to current finnish ones. dress codes do not cause anxiety on my part, but offer relief. parties that follow a strict etiquette are a charming play of subtle elevation from everyday tumble and jumble.
i know a few people who find etiquette a nuisance: their view is based roughly on the idea that rules of conduct are pretension and an unfortunate trace of class society that is used to separate between rich snobs and honest, down-to-earth people. dress codes create insecurity, uncertainty and an unnecessary pressure to dress up or against one's personality. behavior guided by etiquette feels like a theater play, all pretense and charade. i can see where they're coming from, although i do not agree.
the codes of etiquette differ very little from common courtesy most of us take for granted. the reason many are unfamiliar with party etiquette is because celebration is such a minor part of life, as are other formal events where the people gathered are loosely tied to each other. thus, etiquette is something that requires learning. for example, dress codes demand some thought, but help in comfort because once realized properly one does not have to pay attention to fitting in although there is plenty of room for personality expression. moreover, courteous speech is one of the easiest way to display admiration and respect. internalized codes create stability in situations where uncertainty would easily rule. the constancy and predictability appeal to me.
nevertheless, there is another side to etiquette, namely breaking it. as with all kinds of rebellion, it seems futile if there is no comprehensible background. breaking rules because one deems rules unfounded or unjust is very different from opposing rules just because learning them would take time and effort. it is the same with scientific critique: i've lost count of the times i've asked a student who writes about opposing a Grand Narrative or wants to renounce the use of the term 'individual' whether they know what is wrong with Grand Narratives or why 'individual' is such a problematic concept.
without an understanding of the history and background of concepts and codes, critique echoes emptiness. for example, supporting a postmodern stance without understanding how it differs from a modern one is all too common among social scientists today and it shows as haphazard theorizing full of inexplicable gaps. in another context, behaving badly because of ignorance is not an efficient way to show elderly societé ladies that sometimes their stiff rules need some freshening up or upgrading.
through work i have realized that even among people who believe to know etiquette, novel situations sometimes provide behavioral dilemmas. while dj'ing at museum openings i have been exposed to incomprehensible verbal abuse, always from middle-aged ladies and older gentlemen who, presumably, believe to know their way around social situations. nevertheless, they are not the only ones who are uncomfortable or clueless in the presence of the dj.
therefore, based on my experiences, here's an addition i propose emily post publishes in her next edition: a short list of rules on "how to treat the disc jockey".
1. remember that the dj is working, i.e. performing a task they are paid for. do not unnecessarily intrude or disturb their ability to do their duty.
2. the dj has been asked to play because the organizer of the event in question has wanted them there. the situation is comparable to an event where a wagner soprano or a jazz quartet is performing. act with appropriate respect. the dj wants you to enjoy your event.
3. the dj is not a jukebox. their selection of music is not unlimited. nevertheless, they may accept requests for songs. there are some considerations:
a) stick to the genre the dj is playing in your requests. if you cannot differentiate between genres, pose your questions delicately. a dj playing electro will probably not have red hot chili peppers or flamenco.
b) have your request ready when you approach the dj. if the song is not available for any reason, do not start to think of another one. there is very little time between song changes.
c) if asking for certain genres (like trance, punk, rock), remember that the dj probably understands niches of music differently depending on their own interests. therefore, it is preferable to stick to individual bands or songs in your requests.
d) if you rather listened only or predominantly to your favorite music, stay at home or start dj'ing yourself. the point of a dj is to have someone choose the music for you. allow them to do that.
4. if you do not like the music, your options are as follows:
a) ask for a song you like (as above)
b) leave the dancefloor
c) tell the organizer of the event that you do not like the performer s/he booked
d) leave the event
e) all of the above.
5. do not ever complain, protest, sign offensively or make faces at the dj if you do not like what they're playing – as you would not the jazz quartet or the wagner soprano, now would you?
6. if the volume seems off, tell the staff or the organizer. the dj usually has strict guidelines for volume levels and cannot alter them to your personal preferences.
7. as a general rule, if the music at the event is not suitable, the problem is not the dj, but the booking; that is, someone has asked the dj to perform. dj's have a repertoire just like any other performer and they are selected according to it.
8. a few remarks that should never pass your lips (and their snarky responses):
-"could you play something good?" (yeah, please be a little more subjective...)
-after asking for several songs "well, what do you have?" (around a thousand songs that i have no time to list for you...)
-"i hate this song!" (bummer, i love it, i'm playing, i win!)
-"you ruined my night!" (nah, you did it all by yourself by staying and complaining...)
9. finally, remember that there isn't a dj that does not wish you love the music they play. if you do, let them know. it will make you both happy!
anything else you may want to add from the point of view of the audience or dj? i'm listening.