DJ PERSPECTIVE : Night Club Active Shooter

With the recent shooting in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, many DJs including myself are now asking the very same questions How can we protect ourselves in an Active Shooter situation at a nightclub ” Can we carry a gun at the club we are working at?” ” How should I react in these situations?” I live in Florida so my research will be mainly focused in this state, but as Club DJs we are exposed to large crowds every night of the week and could adapt any of these suggestions. It has crossed all of our minds at least once while looking down at a sea of dancers ” What if someone started shooting” The scenario in my mind at least would be an altercation between customers , where one would shoot the other, but recent events have shown that a nightclub is now considered a prime ” Soft Target” especially when door security is lax. The DJ can play a vital role in the safety of it’s patrons.
DJ Booths in most clubs have only one way in and one way out. They are meant Only to accommodate the DJ and his equipment.They are not built with Safety in mind, most are small and cramped. The materials used in creating a DJ booth can range from wood to plexiglass and would probably not withstand high caliber ordinance fire. In most cases the DJ booth is elevated and highly visible from any vantage point in the club making the DJ a target as well as a vital link in the security chain of the nightclub.
In my experience Nightclub security begins in the parking lot. Roving security personnel could potentially make observations and even deter those who would do harm. The Door personnel should be trained to observe those patrons who could be dressed in clothes inappropriate to local weather used to conceal firearms,acting erratic or generally seeming out of place. Metal detectors and random pat downs although negatively viewed by most patrons, may actually need to become standard and routine at any nightclub.
Carrying a gun in nightclubs appears to be out of the question in all nightclubs MOST Laws we’ve researched describes NO FIREARMS in any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose. The general sense is that concealed weapons may be legally carried by a Certified holder into a business that serves alcohol but not as a primary business ( a restaurant), however a concealed weapons carrier should stay out of portions of that business where the service of alcohol is the primary function, and should not consume while possessing a firearm.
If a business is declared to be gun-free, then it would be within their right to dismiss any employee who violated that company’s policies whether they possessed a permit or not.
I’ve been a DJ for over 35+ years .I have seen a lot from a top of the Booth, Fights ( one on one ) Riots ( entire nightclubs fighting) Drug deals, police take downs but luckily No shootings. The recent events got me thinking what would I as a DJ do in an Active-Shooter scenario. Below is a BASIC CLUB LAYOUT , Entrance in the Front DJ Booth and Bathrooms to the Rear , Bars on either side
Club Basic
The DJ Booth can be located in various areas around the nightclub. The most common location is right in front of the dance floor towards the back of the location. It can be located in small corners,second floors, behind bars, but it is usually the best seat in the house from an observational standpoint.
Shots fired
( usually described as sounding like ” Firecrackers” )
1) Turn off the music
It is essential to identify where the shots are coming from. Loud Music would only add to the confusion. I would seriously think about making an announcement on the microphone , it could help ( PLEASE PROCEED TO THE NEAREST EXIT) but it would definitely put you in the cross hairs and alert the shooter to your location. So ,music off.
2) Turn on the House Lights if able to do so
If you are working with a light tech this maybe possible, but most of us don’t and usually do not have access to the house lights. This could be pre-delegated to an employee in this scenario. Lights on could work both as a positive or a negative, but I lean towards positive , allowing people to see and plan their best exit away from the gunfire.
3) Vacate or Stay in the DJ Booth
Probably something to pre-plan, have an exit strategy in place assuming your exit is not blocked or in a direct line of fire ( difficult to assess in such as stressful moment) Staying in the DJ Booth in my opinion would be contingent on a few factors. Can I Lock the door, Can I hide effectively, Can it withstand gun fire , Is the shooter close enough where it is not an option to stay?
As the DJ there is very little we can do in an active situation ,other than help those around us find a safe exit, it is after all a survival situation. A phone or panic button,silent alarm in the DJ booth could alert security personnel and could be a recommendation you can present to management ( Maybe have the office or one of the bouncers assigned to a speed dial on your cell phone). Pre Planning in light of what has happened is more important than ever. Patrons must be made to feel safe and “watched over” in order for business to be unaffected.
Our role, in my opinion is to be vigilant in this new world , we are there to entertain, but our location in the club gives us a bird’s eye view of everything going on. This unique position within the venue could possibly save ours and others lives in such a situation.