Venue or Client?

by Neil Smith the DANDY DJ

If you’ve been around this game for any amount of time, odds are this has happened to you. You are serving an event and your client has contracted you to do something in a certain way (nothing unreasonable or dangerous mind you) but the venue at the event is insisting that you do things in a different way that you know is not what the client wants and you are instantly placed in the unfortunate position of having to choose between the VENUE or CLIENT!

This happened to me in a really bad way a few years ago at a very upscale hotel. It was a wedding with a great deal of pomp and circumstance and the guests had been forced to remain seated for hours! It finally came the time (in the approved timeline) for the open dancing and the floor was instantly packed! It was obvious that these people were sick and tired of sitting and were ready to let off some steam!

Well, halfway through the 2nd song, the catering manager comes to me and tells me that I need to CLEAR THE DANCE FLOOR because his staff is ready to move into the cake cutting. I politely explained that the bride and groom and guests had been sitting for hours and had just gotten up to dance (the bride and groom were in the center of the dance floor obviously having a great time) and to please let me give them a few more songs, not for me, but for them. It was obvious in that moment that this was the correct thing to do in every way.

Well, this guy read me the riot act, he was in charge, this was “his show” and we do things “his way.” I mean, he really went off on me!

Now, I normally do everything in my power to please the venue (what DJ wouldn’t?) but in this case I had to make a decision between going along with this hot-tempered catering manager by quickly pulling the plug on the fun I had been hired to provide and also taking the brunt of the certain boos and disappointed stares in my direction that were sure to follow, or to further anger this manager and continue the dancing a bit more and do what I knew in my heart would be the most pleasing to these newlyweds and their guests. In other words, I was in a position where someone was going to be unhappy regardless of what I did.

Reluctantly, I pointed to the dance floor and said “That’s my client, you are not. They’ve been sitting for hours, they want to dance right now, I’m giving them a few more songs and then I’ll be happy to move into the next portion you wish.”

He stomped around angry for a while and after a few more songs, I moved us into the cake cutting and all was transparent to the client. Needless to say, I did not strike up a referral relationship with the hotel, but I also didn’t want to. I’d prefer to serve where the client comes first so I didn’t lose sleep over this one.

In an online forum for DJs I have seen this question posed. “If placed in a situation where you need to choose between pleasing the venue or the client, which do you choose?” Many DJs chose the venue. They are a source of potential ongoing repeat business. In cases where it is a question of safety or appropriateness, I agree. But when someone has hired me to help them celebrate one of the most precious moments of their life, that to me far outweighs a banquet captain’s brief inconvenience or ego. There’s an old saying: “You can’t please everyone.”

This stated, I do have language in my contract that states that I finish when either my contracted maximum time is complete, the main persons being celebrated make their exit or when the venue needs to begin their shutdown procedures, whichever comes first. This helps keep me out of trouble with the venue when they are ready to end the night.

I suppose I could also place language in my contract that the venue is deferred to in instances where there is a conflict between the desires of the client and venue, but I’m also cautious about giving my clients an overly-wordy agreement. I like to keep my contracts to one page. Simple and sweet.

If you haven’t already, you might want to consider placing some special language into your contracts to protect you in this way because I can testify from experience that’s is no fun getting stuck between that rock and a hard place and having to make that choice between the VENUE OR CLIENT!

Stay DANDY y’all!

Neil Smith the DANDY DJ

Proud member of the TN Christian Chamber of Commerce
and National Association of Mobile Entertainers (N.A.M.E)

If it deserves to be celebrated, it deserves to be DANDY!


  • Neil Smith owns and operates DANDY DJ and PHOTO BOOTH based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (about a half hour south of Nashville).

    Neil began his music career in 1986 as the guitarist for the Jacksonville, Florida punk rock band Stevie Stiletto and continued touring and recording (some internationally) in the world of punk rock for 16 years before shifting to providing musician and live band dance music to bars and restaurants.

    Bars and restaurants slowly built into weddings and corporate events and along the way DJ services were added to the mix. Within a few years, the DJ services took off and became the focus of the business.

    Ever since, Neil has been known as the DANDY DJ and since 2005 has found a passion for and has become a specialist of “family-friendly-only” weddings and events.

    Neil Smith has authored the books…

    THE WEDDING DJ BIBLE - How To DJ The Wedding Like A Pro From Preparation To Grand Exit!

    as well as


    Both books are available on Amazon in eBook and paperback and on Amazon, iTunes and Audible in audiobook format.

    Neil is excited to share his diverse range of experience with whoever it may serve!

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