I’ll always remember the night that DJ Scruffy (real name Martin) Duffy was hired by Coolera Dramatic Society to play at the post-pantomime party.

So usually what happens at these events is that everyone has a bit of grub, followed by the DJ playing some of the songs from the show. At this point the younger members of the cast will have a dance (sometimes accompanied by more senior members it must be said), and then when the teenagers go home, the adults have a few drinks at the bar, a bit of craic about the show and sometimes a sing-song. There may or may not be music happening at this time, but if there is usually no-one pays much attention to it.

And we were in the latter stages of the evening, and this pattern was being repeated the night that Scruffy was DJ. Until he decided to do something about it.

Now the easy thing for him to do would have been to stay at the back of the room, play his few tunes, maybe with a few enthusiasts dancing to the odd one. It would have been a handy gig for him, he would technically have done his job, and he would have been paid.

But instead of taking the easy option, Scruffy grabbed the microphone, came down to the bar, and hounded every person in the room (in the most charming and funny way possible) until he had them all on the dance floor. He wasn’t content to phone in the gig, he was determined that if he was playing, the dance floor would be full, and he succeeded. And everyone had a ball.

I have always admired him since that night.


Here he is (centre left) in the middle of a heaving dance floor in the middle of the afternoon at yesterday’s family-friendly Strandhill Show and Craft Fair.

So – a few observations on this man’s professionalism – from which anyone can learn.

  1. Treat every gig with the respect it deserves. Be it a kiddies disco, his best friend’s wedding, or a celebrity function in a swanky hotel , he will put the same effort into each one.
  2. Have your homework done before you turn up – I caught a quick glance at his notes for yesterday’s gig and they left nothing to chance.
  3. Take pride in your work and never take the easy option when there is a more worthwhile one there – see the story above.
  4. Always be looking for ways to improve yourself and your craft. They may not always work, but they’re worth a try.
  5. Know when you’re not needed and get out of the way. I have seen him do this countless times. When he needs to cajole, to encourage, to motivate people out onto the floor he certainly isn’t shy. But once he has them out there, he lets the music do the talking for him.
  6. Be kind. I have seen this man’s generosity numerous times, and while you can be the ultimate professional without being kind, it certainly doesn’t do you (or the people around you) any harm.