Back to School = Dirty Dancing

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When he’s not spinning in clubs or broadcasting his mix show on local Top 40 radio, DJ Sticky Boots, a nominee for America’s Best DJ, uses his brand to book gigs at school dances.

For any DJ, especially one who thinks “grinding” is for coffee beans, these can present unique challenges.

“Some songs are so dirty I won’t play them anywhere,” he says. “Some songs will work for high schools but not middle schools, while some songs are okay for most schools but with one or two ultra-conservative clients I won’t play it.

“Some songs (i.e. ‘Tick Tok’ by Ke$ha and other hip-hop songs) I go in with the instrumental version and make custom edits to clean them up even more, or I’ll play an up-tempo mix to get away from the grinding aspect with kids (i.e. the Max Methods mix of ‘Bedrock’).”

Sticky Boots suggests there are many creative solutions to working with suggestive music for schools, but it all comes down to knowing your clients.

“Not only that,” he says, “but also it’s important to keep in mind what they deem to be acceptable, keeping a broad company-based policy on what crosses the line, and developing your studio chops so you can work with some big hits that the kids demand but aren’t appropriate without some editing.

“In the end, sometimes I just have to say, ‘I know I play it on the radio, but this is a middle school and your principal won’t allow me to play it here,’ and the kids usually just smile and say, ‘Yeah, he sucks,’ and then walk away satisfied.”