Making you dance until your feet bleed since 2005

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The COVID Stamp on Events

Remember 8 years ago, when it was April? 2020 will go down in the books as one of the longest and most transformative for…well, everything.

by Evelyn Gallagher

What a year…

Remember 8 years ago, when it was April? 2020 will go down in the books as one of the longest and most transformative for...well, everything. This period was, nay, is fraught with stress, uncertainty, anxiety, fear, frustration....I am a very organized, resourceful, “get sh!t done” kind of person and there were weeks there that I had no idea what the future would hold. I had no idea what to do next. This was totally foreign to me. Like SO many other industries, COVID struck right at the core of this business. It exposed so many things that we never, ever had to consider before. How does a business rebook a whole year of events, especially a year in which we were positioned for some serious growth? How will this year affect the future of Toast & Jam? The heart of the Toast & Jam philosophy is the DJ/Client relationship. How do we foster that when they cannot meet? With so many postponements , we couldn’t always keep the client with their original DJ. Rescheduling is something we have only done on rare occasions, because our success is based off of the amazing relationships that develop from meeting in person and getting to know each other throughout the process. We will definitely slay these weddings - we will just have to adjust, as we all do.

Our livelihoods are based on gatherings happening on a specific day, executed by a specific person. Prior to March, cancellations were rare. Like really rare, maybe a few a year.. And postponements were even rarer. In the 15 years we have been in business, we’ve had maybe four. We are now at HUNDREDS of postponements and about 100 cancellations for the year. To say it was “out of our comfort zone” is putting it mildly, but hey putting a positive spin on it - nothing worthwhile comes from your comfort zone, right?

It’s not just our “DJ match” policy that has changed. So much of the way I run my business is different now. We’ve implemented new procedures for events to ensure the safety of our DJ and your guests - it’s a mutually beneficial change that includes plexiglass separation screens, text-only request lines, mic covers, sanitary supplies and PPE sent to each event and a safety clause included in all of our contracts. Prior to COVID, we only had the safety clause in place, but times change, which means as a business you have to adapt in order to stick around. We have all had to adjust to the weirdness of awkward Zoom waiting rooms, virtual introductions and trying to find that connection in a time when we are all so far apart and have felt isolated for the majority of the year. I’ve had a senior DJ, well spoken and friendly, cry after a zoom meeting because she “forgot how to talk to people”. The idea of an epic rager sounds better in theory than practice this year (crowd surfing to “Africa” doesn’t really allow for much social distancing), but there WILL come a time when we can hug and meet and shake hands again. The only real pain will be having to go back to pants that don’t have elastic bands. (I guess we don’t HAVE to, right? Maybe it’ll be the best thing to come out of all of this).

A few weeks ago we were featured in NPR, specifically on how companies and clients are handling COVID regulations and adjusting, or not adjusting at all (aka simply not abiding by them). Toast & Jam is dedicated to safety - making sure we are following all the rules set to keep us all healthy (and beyond). We CAN’T bend the rules from an ethical standpoint nor a legal one. As much personality as we have (and it oozes from our pores), there are some not fun things we’ve had to do to keep operating and ensure our business and our DJs are here for a long time. We have had to enforce our contract. Contracts exist so that when things go wrong, everyone knows how things will shake out. We don’t have a one size fits all solution for the many complicated issues that have come up in the last 8 months. We really can’t have one because we are all on our toes with daily changes. The entire playbook for this business has been thrown in a dumpster and set on fire. The learning curve for me has been steep, and honestly, I am not cut out for the daily ethical and moral quandaries that I have to sort out constantly. But we are doing the best we can to try to make the best decisions in the moment for the client, my DJs and the long term success of this company. Because, real talk, we can’t rock your dance floor in the future if we are no longer in business.

The most important thing for us at Toast & Jam and our clients to remember is that at the end of the day it’s business, it’s not personal. But it is hard to NOT take this all personally. This company is my baby - well, at fifteen years in business, I guess it’s a defiant teenager now (how damn fitting). It definitely is hormonal and moody, that’s for sure. There is nothing we love more than to bring the party and celebrate love with our clients, especially with jam packed dance floors where everyone is busting their favorite moves, expertly (or inexpertly, amirite?). While our strict adherence to the guidelines makes some people think we are the Fun Police, it’s so important for all of us to follow them so this effing pandemic can end already and we can find our new normal. It’s the right thing to do for everyone. We CAN get through this to find our new way of life if we work together, wear a mask and love one another.

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