DJ Hardwell pacing himself

A year ago, Dutch DJ Hardwell and I were sitting in a booth in a nightclub and catching up while a documentary crew filmed us. Hardwell had just arrived in Las Vegas after performing in Poland and Germany. He had been awake for 30 hours.

“I closed my eyes on the plane for maybe an hour, but I couldn’t sleep,” he told me then.

Now a year later, Hardwell (who DJs Friday at MGM’s Hakkasan nightclub) tells me what happened several weeks after that. The documentary crew kept filming Hardwell as he collapsed into a heap.

“I was too exhausted. I was touring too much, and doing too much partying,” Hardwell (Robbert van de Corput) says.

So when that documentary, “I Am Hardwell,” eventually comes out (there’s no release date yet), you’ll be able to see two years of ups and downs in the life of this world-famous DJ.

“I got really, really sick. And I had to cancel my tour. So you see me in my apartment, like, dying. And I wanted to go (back on tour), but the doctor wouldn’t let me,” he says.

Hardwell, 25, says he lived and learned last year.

“It was a great lesson to take more time off. When I take time off, I have to really take time off, and not go into the studio and still work.”

A big reason these DJ-producers get ill is because they run themselves ragged. A few weeks ago, Hardwell landed in Miami, looked at his schedule and realized he had booked 16 gigs across America over the course of the following 12 days.

DJs are always telling me how little they sleep, because they are constantly moving from venue to airplane to hotel room and back to venue. This is a lifestyle even more frenetic than rock stars’ lives. Rockers at least get to sleep on tour buses.

Hardwell explains the phenomenon.

“I’m too excited after a show. I can’t sleep. You know how it goes. You always have early checkout and early flights — especially when you have a long day of traveling. It’s hard to find the right time to take a nap. And when you nap on a plane, you’re not resting, you’re just napping.”

And yet these DJs are always in a good mood, I swear. Hardwell certainly is, no matter how sleep deprived he is.

But what does he have to be grumpy about? He’s famous, respected, and he is getting paid mad money to do what he loves.

He has a popular show on Sirius radio, which you can download at He has a new single, “Jumper.”

And at some point this year or next, he will see what his life looks like in documentary form in “I Am Hardwell.”

“I haven’t seen anything yet, so I’m really curious.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at He blogs at

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