BEHIND THE DECKS: Student Clubbing in the eyes of a UCL DJ

Zehrah Heesan finds out from one of our most experienced and talented DJs at UCL, Adiba Maduegbuna, what life is like on the other side of the dancefloor.

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Being a DJ isn’t an easy job, filled with drunk clubbers, tough crowds and dirty dance floor antics. But second year student, Adiba Maduegbuna (aka DJ Dibs), tells The Buzz why it’s all worth it and what makes being a DJ at UCL so special.

What kind of things have you been involved with at UCL?

I’m currently a radio DJ on Rare FM and I have a show called ‘60 Minutes with DJ Dibs’ every Thursday at 11pm. I’m also working with the African-Caribbean Society at UCL as the primary DJ for their events and in the past I’ve worked with the MODO Society for their Fashion Show, Olympia and the Basketball Society for their events. I’ll also be DJ-ing at Club Neon next week for UCLU Ents.

So what are the major perks of being a DJ?

Major perks of being a DJ…well, free drinks I’d say. When you’ve worked at a venue more than once, they start to recognise you so you get offered free drinks, free entry; the works.

Not a bad lifestyle then… So are there any downsides?

I’d say since I’m a female DJ sometimes people don’t take you seriously. But I’ve been told I’m quite good so after events I think there’s more appreciation for what I do once they’ve seen what I can actually deliver. So I suppose it’s a disadvantage and an advantage at the same time.

Since you’re also involved with Rare FM, do you prefer doing radio or events?

I prefer doing events because you can really interact with the crowd. Sometimes, on the radio I have co-hosts in and we’ve actually had special guests from outside UCL, but otherwise it can get quite lonely in the studio when you’re on your own. In general though, I like a balance of both.

What UCL events have you DJ-ed at that you really enjoyed?

I DJ-ed at the UCLU Freshers’ Ball which was great fun and I’m really looking forward to Club Neon next week. The two days at MODO Olympia were really great as well. I also DJ-ed for Pan Afrik, where I was in charge of sound and music for the after party, which was really cool.

So, from your experience, which UCL society parties the hardest?

I would say the African-Caribbean Society go hard, because Afro-beats, the main type of African dance music, is quite big in London these days. The party on the 3rd of March was crazy! We filled the union over capacity because instead of having around 200 people, about 400 guests turned up. It was just an insane party.

So let’s talk floor-fillers. What song is guaranteed to get UCL students on the dancefloor?

Since I DJ in a lot of genres, it obviously depends on the crowd. For example, for Hip-Hop it’d have to be ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain and in RnB probably ‘This is How We Do It’ by Montell Jordan. In terms of Chart tunes though…everyone definitely seems to love ‘Party Rock Anthem’ by LMFAO or ‘Sexy and I know it’.

And floor-killers? What about the songs all DJs should avoid, at all costs?

Well I would definitely avoid cheesy dance numbers, such as the Macarena. They don’t seem to go down well with university students. And also, really soppy love songs; so no Whitney Houston for sure.

I’m sure as a DJ you’ve seen what kind of antics people get up to when drunk and disorderly. So, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen go down on the dancefloor?

Well, one time I was DJ-ing at a club in Soho and someone made a request. When I wouldn’t play his song, he took out his package. It was pretty intimidating, so one of the bartenders had to come round and ask him to leave the DJ booth. He was quite drunk as well, so that was definitely the worst thing that’s happened.

Oh god, do UCL students ever misbehave like that?

Yeah, sometimes they do. I’ve had people want to throw drinks on my laptop and on my equipment. But in general the crowd tends to be good.

So based on everything you’ve seen, if you could sum up UCL’s general music style in a few words, what would you say?

I would say people at UCL tend to love a lot of chart music. That’s what I play at most of the events I’ve done. Also commercial RnB is quite popular. They’re not really big on Hip-Hop though…I remember playing a gig once for the Halloween Launch Party at Rare FM and I started off with some Hip-Hop and literally, no-one was dancing. I had to switch to some RnB to get them up. That’s one of the things that’s really important as a DJ: reading your crowd.

What’s been your best and worst experience so far as a UCL DJ?

The best is when people come up to you after a gig saying they really love your music and asking for your card or more information. It’s a great experience. Worst experience as a UCL DJ? I think a lot of the time you’re overlooked. So much work goes into DJ-ing and I’d love for people to see that so DJs at UCL can get some more recognition.

Well hopefully this interview will do just the thing. So how did this all start then? How did you get involved?

Well, I’ve always loved music and my Dad was a DJ at university, a long long long long time ago, so music’s always been in my family. I did my A-Levels at a Sixth Form in Cambridge and I’d always travel to London on the weekends to learn on turntables and see DJs, so when I came to UCL I just immersed myself in the whole scene.

So if any of our readers are interested in DJ-ing at UCL, how can they get involved?

If you’re interested, the best thing to do is to get involved in the Radio Society because they have a lot of opportunities for DJs to spin at UCL events. That’s how I got my set at the Freshers’ Ball. Also, look me up! I tend to host a lot of parties on my own now, for instance next week I’m hosting my end of term special, so I’m always getting UCL students in the party mood!

Check out Adiba in action: 

Club neon @ The Ministry of Sound:

Or online:

Twitter: @Deejay_Dibs