Do DJs get free drinks? Should you drink while DJing?

Photo by Med Mhamdi

It’s so common to see the DJ throwing back a few drinks, that you might think it’s in the job description. Even though you’re being paid to party, should you drink while DJing? 

It would be a record-breaking miracle if you weren’t offered a single drink while playing a set. While choosing whether to drink as a DJ is a personal choice, try to keep alcohol to an absolute minimum while playing a set. One sip often leads to one too many. 

It can be difficult to avoid alcohol when almost everyone in the room is intoxicated, but before you bring the bottle to your lips, make sure you know all of your options. Let’s consider the good and the bad. 

Confidence controversy

Ah yes, that liquid confidence. One of the attractions towards alcohol in the first place is its power to melt away our inhibitions. After all, a lot of us are in fact nervous about being in front of that crowd and just want to loosen up a little, especially if we are first starting out on the DJ scene. However, confidence does not have to come from the bottle. 

Once you start playing and see that everyone is loving your tunes, your confidence will naturally rise. This also helps you actually IMPROVE your confidence, rather than drowning it in beer. 

To reduce and manage worries about an upcoming gig, you might want to consider a Mindfulness exercise– a technique that brings you into the present moment and as such, prevents nerves spiraling out of control and demanding alcohol to settle them. Many find this to help their confidence as their nerves have not taken over. 

Here is one of many potential techniques you could try: 

While breathing gently in through your nose and out through your mouth, (in your head) name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can touch, 1 thing you can taste. This helps ground your body back to the here and now. 

Professional and Drunk

Those two words don’t really go together, do they? If you’re serious about being successful in your DJ career, make professionalism a priority. Even with the gallons of alcohol that populate nightclubs and events, sobriety on the job will stand out as you actually caring about giving a great performance.

A label of ‘unprofessional’ will stick to your name when venues are looking for DJs. Employers looking to pay DJs for regular work will be less likely to book you if you could reflect their venue in a poor light. 

If you wouldn’t drink on any other job, don’t drink as a DJ!

Pints equal Poor Performance

Many successful DJ’s say that they will only ever drink after a gig, as they don’t want to sacrifice their high quality. If you are a DJ you want to provide everyone with a phenomenal musical experience, you want to be sharp and aware of how the crowd responds to your music. You can only monitor the crowd if you are alert and alcohol is likely to cause you to slack on your skills in at least one way or another.   

What about the free drinks?

Telling you to just ‘’not drink’’ isn’t as easy as it sounds. When someone is kind enough to offer you a drink, another drink, and sometimes even another drink- it can feel rather rude to turn them away. But fear not, some DJs have already thought this one through; and a handy trick is to keep a drink nearby resembling some form of alcoholic drink that they can blame for not being able to accept the offer. Simple yet effective. 

Remember, NEVER leave your drink unattended- unfortunately, even DJs have been known to have an unwanted surprise popped in their drink. When you’re busy and focused on the music, you might not notice if someone were to approach your drink. That being said, opt for a closed capped drink bottle if at all possible, to avoid any sudden equipment destruction. 

What shall I drink instead?

Don’t be one of those dehydrated DJs. If you’re not drinking alcohol and don’t want a simple bottle of water (although we’d highly recommend incorporating it into the night), some DJ’s will choose an energy drink of some kind- yes it’s not your favourite alcoholic beverage but it is slightly more interesting than a tap water if you’re working until 2 am. 

Sometimes alcohol helps DJs feel that they are on a similar level to the crowd, that they can understand what they would want because they are in a similar headspace. Energy drinks can be the less mind-melting option for this, you are likely to get a great buzz from it, yet with less slurring down the mic…

Your body and mind want you sober

Let’s say you have a lot of gigs lined up over the next few weeks and you consume alcohol at each of those events. Even if it doesn’t seem like much at the time (it never does at the time does it?) over the course of the week you’ll easily be drinking more units than your liver will be grateful for. 

You might be someone who has plenty of experience with alcohol and you are convinced your body can handle it- and this might be true. However, over time, too much alcohol will take its toll on your physical and mental health. Not only is your body at risk, but alcohol can seriously impact your mindset, emotions, and overall wellbeing if you exceed your limits.


Don’t forget, even though you might be ready to hit the sack after a long shift, the quality of your sleep is much poorer after a drink. Sleep is made up of several stages, the last one being a very deep sleep. Alcohol stops you from reaching that deepest stage- a stage that is vital for a healthy body and mind.

Plan ahead

We all know it’s not as easy on the night, just one drink, just one more. Suddenly you’ve had ten pints. Some planning will help you out here. 

Before you even set foot in the event, make sure you’ve had plenty to eat and enough water. You may want to speak with the venue prior to the event- it is possible to arrange for your shots and other drinks to be prepared as non-alcoholic. If you are feeling the social pressure to drink, this is a perfect way for your non-alcoholic night to go unnoticed. 

Even if you do drink, having had a sufficiently nutritious meal and enough water throughout the night will keep your body in the best possible state to handle any alcohol that is thrown its way. 

The effect of alcohol will be much stronger if you are hungry and dehydrated. 

Additionally, it may be wise to choose one alcoholic drink and stick to it, preferably choose one that allows easy calculation of units and definitely avoid mixing drinks. 

Some people decide to take an Activated charcoal tablet before a gig- it is known to reduce the pounding impact of alcohol on the body by preventing full absorption of all the nasty chemicals that leave you hungover. 

So, what’s the answer?

This article has presented plenty of arguments to suggest that alcohol while on a DJ gig is not the best for your professional image, your performance, as well as your long term physical and mental health. 

It’s now your job to decide whether you take the stage alcohol-free, but at least with these tips, you are equipped to make a decision that is best for you. 

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