CMU Opinion

Sure, shaking a DJ’s hand might seem like fun, but is it safe?

By | Published on Friday 6 April 2018

Louis Cut

Recently we discussed here why you should never ever ask anyone for an autograph. This week we add to that seeking handshakes. Not just because it’s weird and pointless, but also because it’s dangerous. You could end up with six tonnes of DJ equipment raining down on your head. (Note: I don’t know how much DJ equipment weighs. Or have any concept of what a tonne is like.)

Portuguese DJ Louis Cut appeared at Australia’s Rabbits Eat Lettuce festival over the Easter weekend. One of the topped billed acts, his set was clearly highly anticipated, and for 26 minutes and nine seconds he delivered the goods. Until proceedings were brought to an abrupt halt by a fan. And some gravity. Watch what happened here:

Despite the replays from multiple angles, the incident of concern here all happens fairly quickly. I think, therefore, you will all agree that it’s worth me bulking out the word count of this article with a forensic step-by-step analysis of what happened. You never know, perhaps then we can work out what went wrong and where improvements can be made.

My analysis begins not in the video, but on the Rabbits Eat Lettuce website.

“Rabbits Eat Lettuce is a place of freedom, love and dance music”, it states. “Come and camp in a beautiful natural environment and form a community of like-minded souls who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. Rabbits Eat Lettuce lets us be human again. We can dissolve the social barriers and dance together”.

I’m not saying that the author of this paragraph is wholly to blame for what happened during Louis Cut’s set last weekend, but I do think it would be entirely reasonable if they lost this and all future writing jobs. For the safety of humanity. They should probably lose a few nights to sleeplessness as well, because these words nearly got a man killed.

Rabbits Eat Lettuce may well be a place of dance music, but I think we can leave the freedom and love outside next time, thank you very much.

“Rabbits Eat Lettuce lets us be human again”, it says. Very dangerous words. Words that might convince humans that the things they do in their day-to-day lives are not in fact human. Despite the fact that, as humans, anything we do is – by its very nature – a ‘human’ thing to do. I just put one arm in the air for no reason. It was so human.

But by telling people that the things they do in “the hustle and bustle of the city life” aren’t normal or valuable, you risk making them think that they can just do whatever they want once they are away from said city life and are living within the confines of your festival site.

Worst of all, though, is the final sentence. “We can dissolve the social barriers and dance together”. Oh, really? Dissolve social barriers like the one that exists between a DJ and their audience? Let’s see how that turns out.

Onto the video now. It’s only brief, but there’s a lot to examine. Let’s break this down second-by-second.

00:00:00 – We see our DJ, Mr Louis Cut. In many ways this story is about him. But it’s also about us. Don’t forget that.

00:00:01 – A man appears from behind Louis Cut. “Fuck yeah, dude. You are killing it, man”, he says. “Thank you so much, dude”.

The fact that this man is on the stage unchallenged suggests that he is involved with the event. The sincere “thank you” also suggests an involvement beyond merely enjoying the music. He is thankful that by “killing it” Louis Cut is ensuring that this remains a successful event. The event being a success may be important to this man’s financial security, but that’s not something we are able to tell from this video alone.

During this exchange, the two men appear to connect via up to two different forms of handshake (the second is obscured and may not actually have happened). It is possible that this jovial exchange played at least a small role in influencing what happens next.

00:00:09 – Another man appears. Not already on the stage like the other guy, this man seems to leap on to the front of the staging just as Louis Cut returns to the job in hand (DJing) after his previous exchange. This man is wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses with side shields for added protection (although they may be worn for more aesthetic reasons, it is unclear), and he has blue paint crudely daubed on his face.

00:00:10 – The man smiles and reaches out his right hand, elbow raised to a level that signifies a request for an informal handshake. He holds his upper and lower arm and hand in a manner that implies confidence in both himself and that the handshake will be reciprocated. It may well be a move he learned in the hustle and bustle of the city life. Who knows?

Louis Cut looks up, initially appearing surprised by the man’s presence, but instinctually accepts the handshake and fixes the man with a look that suggests he is quite used to shaking multiple hands in the space of between eight and nine seconds.

00:00:11 – The handshake ends and Louis Cut marks the conclusion of the interaction with a hand gesture: the raised thumb and little finger of his right hand, which he shakes from side to side. While friendly, the shape of this hand gesture also puts up a barrier between the two men, signifying their differing statuses.

If not examined closely, because of the angle of the video, this may be mistaken as the sideways thumb ‘clear off’ gesture, but our expert analysis has found this not to be the case. Nonetheless, the man turns to leave, seemingly happy with how this whole ‘handshaking the DJ’ thing went, revelling in the feeling of being human again.

00:00:13 – As he steps down from the stage, the cap and shades wearing blue face dude grips what appears to be a small amount of garden fencing material affixed in front of the DJ equipment laid out before Louis Cut.

00:00:14 – Not letting go soon enough as he makes his descent, he pulls too hard on the fencing material, in doing so pulling the table on which the DJ equipment sits. It angles forward to a point where it becomes off balance and tips off the stage.

I think it’s probably important to note here – for anyone not fully trained in live music production – that this is generally seen by professionals as not a great thing to happen.

00:00:23 – In the first of a series of replays we see the incident from another angle – stage left, rather than stage right.

Pausing at this point shows the previously confident stage intruder now lying on the floor in front of the staging, head slightly raised, arms all over the shop.

The paused video also shows the previously mentioned DJ equipment hanging motionless in mid air. But this is a visual illusion created by my expert manipulation of the video, in case you wondered. In reality, the equipment is falling quickly towards the man.

00:00:27 – Now revisiting the entire event from the back of the stage, we see Mr-Cap- Shades-And-Blue-Face step forward from speakers positioned in front of the stage onto the stage itself, before initiating the previously described handshake.

In another video of the full set, some minutes earlier this man can be seen dancing on those very speakers. At one point he waves his arms about like he’s conducting the crowd, drastically misunderstanding his role in the situation.

00:00:28 – While all these replays are happening visually, we seem to be able to hear the audio of a rescue mission snapping into action from the original gravity moment we previously saw.

“Upside down, table off!” shouts a voice, the message delivered so quickly that only a small number of the necessary words come out, and those are in the wrong order.

00:00:37 – “There’s someone under there”, says another voice, the replays now complete and the aftermath now also unfolding on camera.

It’s easy to forget that not everyone was watching this occur second-to-second from multiple angles. In reality, it’s entirely possible that most people were looking at something entirely different during the few seconds when it all happened. Maybe they were briefly distracted by thoughts of normal society and how they had escaped it.

00:00:53 – The table is pulled back up onto the stage. Admit it, for the few seconds before it’s flipped upright again, you thought the equipment might still be on it. It’s not. That’s not how tables work. Think about when you flip the table over every time you lose at Monopoly. Does the board stay on the table? Do all the hotels your cousin put on the brown properties stay in place? No. Tables are not magic.

As this happens, someone finally addresses the injured man. “Are you alright buddy? Are you all good?”

00:00:57 – “Imossay huh”, replies the man, confirming that he is unharmed. It’s hard to believe we’ve been in his presence this long and this is the first time we’ve actually heard him speak. It’s like in ‘Ghost Dog’ when Forest Whitaker doesn’t speak for the first 20 minutes. Except stupid.

00:00:59 – “You’ve got a pretty bad bump on your head, we’d better take you to the medical tent”, the previous voice informs the injured handshaker. Turns out that said handshaker is not unharmed and his own assessment of the situation was incorrect.

00:01:03 – “It’s all good”, comes a new voice. “Don’t even worry about it, man. Just wanna make sure you’re OK”. No further noises have emerged from the injured man as far as can be heard on the video. Nor can we see exactly what’s happening.

However, someone telling him “it’s all good” and “don’t even worry about it” suggests that the man is worried and doesn’t believe it’s “all good”. Whether this is all manifesting in silent weeping or raised fists cursing the gods is not clear.

All we can deduce is that the injured man may be worrying that a heavy CD-J falling onto his face has caused some disruption to the party.

And there the video ends. Although apparently the DJ equipment was returned to the stage and Louis Cut was able to finish his set. A true professional. Though perhaps now a man who will think twice about dishing out handshakes quite so freely.

In case you wondered about the handshake guy, Cut writes on his Facebook page: “Just to make it clear, the kid is alright. He went to the hospital and got some stitches in his head and as far as I know he is fine now”. So, as it transpires, it wasn’t actually “all good” at 00:01:03, but it is “all good” now. Just as well. I wouldn’t want to have to rewrite this entire piece in a more sombre tone.

At this stage, I think it would be a good time to return to the Rabbits Eat Lettuce website for another piece of terrible advice that I trust will now be removed to ensure gravity calamities of this kind can never occur again. “Give praise to strangers”, it says. “Smile at everyone. Make new friends. Be helpful. Know your neighbours. Share. Be so happy that when people look at you they become happier”.

I don’t know about you, but seeing all this now makes me glad that – instead of attending this festival – I stuck to the “hustle and bustle of the city life” where none of those values exist. It’s clearly much safer.