Last week I was at brunch with some friends and we chatted for the first hour, catching up with the gossip since we last met and having a good laugh. That was until the music started. Barely 30 minutes from when we arrived a singer took to the stage and started belting out her repertoire at full volume. With a speaker not more than 15 feet from our table and aimed right at us, we could hardly hear ourselves think never mind talk. This is a common problem in restaurants and cafés. The owner, or more likely the manager, seems to be under the illusion that people can only have a good time if they are bombarded with loud music. They think that will make us all get up and dance, as the philosophy is if your customers are dancing then they are having a good time. This is true at a later stage of the proceedings, but there has to be a judgment call as to when to start this and sadly many establishments fail to understand it.
Now before you start calling me an old fuddy duddy let me tell you that I have been DJing parties, clubs and restaurants for more than 20 years. I have a reputation for providing a good night’s entertainment to all and sundry and so know a little bit of what I am talking about.
No one likes a venue that is silent, everybody does like to hear music being played but there is a simple formula for this. At the start of an evening when all the guests are arriving and meeting up, the music needs to be at a background level, soft enough to hear but not loud enough to get in the way of conversation. At normal levels, no one should have to raise their voice to be heard. Once the guests/diners have taken to their tables and are starting to eat you can crank it up a little. They should still be able to speak normally to the people they are sitting next to, but maybe raise their voices a little for the people at the end of the table. This slight increase in volume starts to get them in the mood and also gives them something to listen to if they are eating and not involved in a discussion. By the time they are onto puddings then the more gregarious of the bunch will be starting to swing and sway in their seats and maybe even grace the dance floor. This is the critical bit and a good DJ can judge just when the balance is right and now they want to dance. That is when you crank it up to 11, get a good dance track on, belt out the base, feel the building vibrate and suddenly everybody is up and performing their best ‘dad dance’ moves. Then it is a matter of the right choice of music for the crowd.
So please Mr and Mrs Restaurant Manager, at the start of a function, whether it is in the evening or brunch, keep the noise down.