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Music volume at parties
Bar Harbor
At the recent BioShock launch party, as I previously mentioned, the "background" music was so loud as to seriously impair conversation, and completely preclude it in many areas. It occurs to me that at *every* event I have ever been to that had a professional DJ, this has been a problem. At the last wedding I was at, the bride and groom kept asking the DJ to turn down the music, and they would -- but then gradually turned it back up again as soon as they had gone away. It's as if the DJs think that conversation is not important -- or at least, not as important as the music is -- even when their *employers* tell them otherwise.

I wonder if there is some deep reason for this. Could it be Type-related (paging siderea)? Is a particular sort of person drawn to being a DJ, and does that sort of person inherently have a different set of values than those of me and my peers?

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I have wondered that myself, and don't know enough to say!

It seems identical in attitude/situation to hair stylists who are certain that their knowing better than their customers about hair fashion is grounds for them to overrule their customers' wishes (and disregard their customers' knowledge). Which has been my universal experience of hair stylists. Which is why I don't patronize them.

I believe both professions draw more heavily from ESFPs and similar Types; that may explain it in some sense, but the only ESFP I know wouldn't behave like that at all, so I don't really know. Need more data.

All that said: DJs as a population share one important trait: hearing loss. Definitionally: if you're in the loud music business, or, heck, just the amplified music business, you're smacking around those poor little cilia and they can only take so much. Eventually you keep turning it up -- whether your PA or your hearing aid!

As an amateur party DJ, I find that the purpose of music is to create enough sound that people start talking to each other without feeling like everyone in the room will eavesdrop on them. I'm not sure what the name of that effect is, but it definitely happens...

(Disclaimer: I am not a dance DJ. I in fact quite blow at that, though by most accounts I am pretty good otherwise.)

Could it be that many professional DJs have damaged their hearing by listening to too much loud music at too close a range, and consequently don't think they have it that loud?

"Oh, this one is good, I'll turn it up."

I dunno, I've found wedding DJs to be poor at taking instruction.

juldea says that if she ever gets married to someone who isn't me, and we're still on good terms, I will be her wedding DJ. We also independently agreed who we would want to DJ a wedding if I were not available.

Who would that be? I'm in the market for a wedding dj.

I had a long argument with a DJ about this at one point. He argued that without loud music, people didn't get up and dance. I told him that we were the ones paying him, and he better turn it down. He did not. I was not as courageous as my dad, who simply unplugged the sound system at a wedding where this occurred.

(At tpau and learnedax's wedding, I was assigned the job of keeping the music down, and after some fighting with the DJ, who did NOT understand how mixing boards worked, did manage to keep it bearable.)

I think it's a combination of elements: I know better than you; I am partly deaf; I am behind the speakers; I was taught to keep the music at the maximum volume below clipping by a sound engineer who knew that that was the way to minimize noise during record.

I was taught to keep the music at the maximum volume below clipping by a sound engineer who knew that that was the way to minimize noise during record.

AAAAHHH!!!!! I bet that's it. I was taught sound engineering explicitly for live acts, and got a strong dose of "If the audience can tell by listening that it's amplified, you have too much amplification" from my instructors.

I saw the same thing at Akamai's summer party at the Museum of Science this week. It was outdoors, under tents, and there was live jazz at one end, very loud. This meant that (a) we had to talk loudly to hear each other, sometimes even bending close to people's mouths to hear; and (b) about a third of the space was empty, because it was so close to the band that nobody wanted to be there, and talk that loudly.

(Plus, of course, I hate jazz; it keeps offering me a beat to sync to, but not actually delivering. But that doesn't mean it's Right to amplify jazz players to the point where everybody is trying to avoid them.)

I remember a work party under the big tents on the lawn, and the live music was just turned up loud enough to be painful (and unable to hear people shouting from across an 8-person table).

I walked up to the person at the mixing board, and shouted two things:
1. This music is great!
2. Shame it is so loud it's hurting my ears!

Yes, I should have asked nicely, but I had to shout for the person to hear me, so I figured brevity was a good idea.

The music was turned down before I sat back down. Still too loud, but at least I could hear the people around me, and my ears weren't hurting anymore.

Found a solution for this.

At the recent family wedding I attended, we had a microburst (60 mph winds, over an inch of rain in 15 minutes); the DJ was standing in 2 inches of water for the rest of the evening. Every time he touched the (ungrounded) control panel he got a shock. Music was never too loud.

Awesome! Now the question is whether the adversive conditioning carried over to the next gig...

You sure you're not too old?

(Actually, I find that same sort of thing happens too. Not just at parties, but at (ostensibly sit-down and have a meal, polite conversation) restaurants. Some people are not able to understand that sometimes people just want to *talk* to each other)

This is my theory:

To a DJ, the music is the important part of a party. In their world, they don't want to talk to people, they want to listen to music. So why would anyone else actually want to talk at a party? Parties are for dancing!

Now, it is of course too much theorizing to posit that DJs aren't *able* to make interesting conversation, so they use music as a crutch for having "a good time."

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