Dealing with Danger at Events


By Stu Chisholm, “The Complete Disc Jockey”

I don’t know about you, but as shocking as the events in San Bernardino were, the constant media bombardment has bordered on ridiculous. Yet one detail of this horrific incident gave me pause: it began at a company holiday party. So, naturally, it made me ask: was there entertainment there?

The Worst Case Scenario

We’ve all had holiday parties like the one described in the news: an afternoon gathering of less than 100 employees, usually at a place of business or public facility, with a minimum of preparation, fuss or bother, but plenty of speeches, awards, and maybe a gift exchange and/or door prizes. The question kept bugging me: did they have a DJ? Or maybe a band?

None of the articles I found mentioned one. This weekend, however, is the official start of my holiday party run for 2015, and I can’t help but ask the question made popular by John Quinones: “What would YOU do”? My answer is always to have a plan, and that begins with what I call the “triple A’s”.


One key to personal safety is simply paying attention. We DJs are in a prime spot to do just that! As we attempt to zero in on what our guests might prefer musically, “reading the crowd” as it’s commonly known, it’s a short step to also pay attention to our surroundings, who is where, doing what, and what might seem odd or out of place. If you’ve been a DJ for any length of time, you may have already been able to stop a fight before it started, or at least shorten it by being quick with the lights, cutting the music and using a commanding tone over the mic and/or simply having 911 on speed dial. Most problems can be solved, or even outright avoided, just by being aware and engaged. Don’t divert your attention to the cell phone between songs, or get so focused on your console that you miss the people standing near you.


Once a potential problem is spotted, the best of all strategies is to get the heck out of its way! My favorite confrontations are the ones where I’m not even there! Yet at a party, we often don’t have the option to leave at will. What we can do, however, is have a plan to get our guests and ourselves out should trouble strike. Smart DJs took a lesson from the 2003 Station Nightclub fire tragedy, where some 100 Great White fans died, and made scoping out where the fire exits are, as well as the fire extinguishers and other safety equipment a part of their routine. I carry my own first aid kit as well. Take a tip from the Boy Scouts, and always be prepared.


So you’ve done your absolute best, maintained your awareness and have an exit plan for yourself and everyone else, yet suddenly you’re confronted with a threat in the form of a drunk with a broken bottle, a hostile guest wielding a knife and accusing you of ignoring his request (this actually happened to me), or even worse, armed terrorists like those we witnessed in San Bernardino. It’s time to implement the third “A” of your safety plan: take ACTION. Again, if you can escape and get others out, and quickly summon help, then by all means do so! If, however, you’re cornered, then you need to take hard, drastic action, and do so explosively, violently and without hesitation! After all, it’s actual life or death that’s at stake. If your local law permits, it might be wise to have a potent can of pepper spray handy, such as the Fox Five Point Three. Another option might be an edged weapon, although these require a fair degree of training to use efficiently and effectively. The same is true of the Kubotan, which is very effective when the user knows what s/he is doing, and is legal anywhere. Lastly, of course, is the concealed firearm. Again, if your situation permits and your local law allows, obtaining the required training, applying for a legal permit and maintaining a fair level of proficiency might be right for you, and is, frankly, the only good response against an armed attacker. Happily, most of us are statistically unlikely to meet such a creature! On the other hand, those same statistics were true for all of the San Bernardino victims this week, too.

The point is to have a solid plan and the ability to effectively carry it out. Some aspects and items above may not be right for everyone! You have to decide what fits best into your lifestyle, business and personal moral code.

In the interests of full disclosure, I looked into this back in the ‘90s due to the nature of the DJ business, and have learned enough that I obtained certification as a firearms instructor. Firearms are always a last resort, to be sure, but I’m of the opinion that they should be a part of every DJ’s equipment list wherever the law and circumstance allow. We are in a prime position to not only assure our own safety, but that of our clients and guests. If only a well-prepared DJ had been at the Inland Regional Center on December 2nd, maybe things would’ve gone differently. We can only guess. Until next time, safe spinnin’!


  • Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe.

    He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well.

    Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine.

    To contact him, email You can grab Stu’s book at

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