Come, sit by the warm glow of your screen as we tell you the tale of the old, old DJs…

Inevitably, jobs, marriage, kids, and the inability to stay up all weekend without having a minor nervous breakdown the following week have plucked many DJs from the game. They are of course quickly replaced by hundreds more but just as the UK is facing a grey-avalanche as more people reach retirement age and live longer, so the DJ community faces an inevitable growth in the retired DJ community
 
These old DJs, or ‘D-Greys’ as everyone is definitely calling them, inhabit a strange cultural no-man’s-land. An old DJ might pack up their decks and leave their Mixcloud and Soundcloud accounts unattended, but deep down, they’re still a DJ. It’s like the mafia, you can never really leave and even if you do, it won’t leave you. D-Greys are doomed to walk the earth forever subconsciously registering the BPM of the pop tune on the radio in the background. Their DJ radar remains on standby, not fully operational but just ticking over. A D-Grey is always secretly ready to make a triumphant comeback. They’ll just need to go and get their tunes, and then get a really strong coffee before arranging the babysitter. 
 

“Hey, wait, we really need a DJ…”

All D-Greys harbour a secret, fervent wish. That they’ll be at a festival or a club, and be introduced to some promoter who remembers them from back in the day. And funnily enough the promoter is looking for a summer resident for their new purpose built pleasure dome on a secret island resort so exclusive that only the super-rich know about it. Hope springs eternal for the retired DJ. “Hey”, this plausible construct of a promoter says in the DJ’s imagination, “Hey, actually, tonight Jamie Jones has got a splinter from his VIP yurt and can’t play and we could really use a headliner…”
 
That, or some variation of the “Hey, wait, we really need a DJ…” scenario story is what most retired DJs secretly thinks. As though anyone was ever short of DJs. As though anyone ever said “Oh no, I can’t find a DJ to play tonight” – yeah, and also, we’re really short of air at the moment, where can I get some air for my party tonight? And actually, we’re a bit short of matter, where am I going to get some matter at such short notice etc.
 

The sad reality of Kev’s barbeque

But for the D-Grey Army, the only gigs that lay ahead are the occasional Sunday afternoon barbecue in their local pub garden for Kev’s 40th. Assembled friends will fondly reminisce about the old days and whoop with genuine appreciation when some old school classics are dropped. Then the kids start whining, that precious amount of time that too many crisps and fizzy drinks bought is oh so finite. It’s starting to cloud over anyway, better head off, got work in the morning. And soon the D-Grey is left to pack the decks into the flight cases, have a last pint with Kev before heading home via a takeaway, to be back in the house by 8 pm. Not like the old days when getting in at 8 pm on a Sunday night came after going out sometime on Friday evening. 
 
With no retirement planning or pension provision in DJing, D-Greys are vulnerable in later life. They may accidentally talk themselves into a 5 am spot in room 3 at a local all-nighter, the preparation for which will prove all-consuming, the reality of which will be disappointing, and the overall result of which will be to make them unbearable the following week because they’re so tired
 

Market forces are circling D-Greys like vultures, trying to sell them clocks made from old vinyl records. This demographic is already being heavily targetted with events like Hacienda Classical, Gatecrasher on Ice, Celebrity Come Shoom With Me, and the hugely successful West End musical ‘We Will Techno You’, based on the classic Detroit Techno songbook.

 

D-Greys are also at risk from the lure of internet radio shows and are prone to broadcast their ‘sets’ from their living rooms via Facebook Live, referring to their tiny online audience as their ‘fans’ and somehow equating this whole process to being ‘a working DJ’. They’re prone to announcing ‘official’ comebacks, as though the entire clubbing world had been waiting for their triumphant return. Their Twitter biogs always say that they retired for a while but now they’re back. But they didn’t retire, there was no last tour or final sell-out gig, not even a P45, carriage clock and awkward office party with plastic cups of warm white wine. There was no retirement, they just went and got a proper job. That’s really what the future holds for most of the generation that decided to try and become DJs, to simply hang up their headphones and get a proper job. It’s what my Mum has been suggesting to me for years.
 

Get a proper job

So what are we to do with a  generation of ex DJs? Can we put them to use? If only being able to listen to two similarly-but-not-quite beat matched pieces of music and then make minor adjustments to bring them into sync with each other was a transferable skill, that they could take on to a new career. We’d be brilliant at it, the UK, we’d have thousands of highly trained beat-matching experts, we’d be famous for it worldwide. However, there aren’t really any other jobs that require this particular skill. Much like whale-blubber fishermen at the dawn of the age of electricity, D-Greys have a skill set that is precisely specialised, highly niche and virtually useless. Little did they know, those deep sea whalers, that a hundred years later deep house DJs would be their parallel and they would have much in common: their beards, their decks, their afinity with all things deep and their outmoded and un-needed skill sets