My heart hurt, I mean physically hurt when I found out Lemmy was dead. Who knows what wonders Amy Winehouse could have produced had she not died way too soon.
Now, flashback to high school, sweaty gym dances, flashing lights, mad moves, and awkward first kisses.
Five years ago, an acoustic mix strummed from a guitar being played on the sand, melodically Colbie Caillat's song “Bubbly” carried on the wind, down an aisle of seashells and surf crashing in the background. The sounds ushering me to my wedding vows.
Ok, what do all those things have in common? Music, it permeates so many of our souls. We all can remember that very moment we heard a specific song. Music wraps itself around most of our precious memories be it pain or pleasure.
When I started DJ’ing, it was not supposed to be anything but playing music for my friends, it would be fun. But, what it turned into was a full-on business. I was DJ'ng three to four nights a week, and anyone who has ever done it will tell you my friend “that’s the grind.”
What brought me to playing out was my love for music, all music. What took me from it was that loss of love. That empty place that remains when the music dies inside of you.
I have played small house parties to the Roxbury, wakes to weddings, boat christenings to tv talk shows. What I learned from all of those things, is the intimacy of the music. How special it makes...EVERYTHING!
It taught me DJ’ing is not about playing what I want to hear. It is not about playing deep cuts and showing you my musical knowledge. Forcing you to listen to music you may never hear, or for that matter care to find. It is about playing what YOU want to hear.
Not too long ago I had the privilege of playing a friend’s birthday party. I volunteered to do it because it seemed like it might be fun. I hadn’t played out for some time, I knew I would be rusty, that my mixes may not flow. But after all, I was doing it for fun.
When I “retired” I sold my system. But I held on to my controller, and of course my laptop. My husband, my sound tech hooked up a 15 in speaker, we just bought off Amazon, and daisy chained a 10 in that was borrowed from the gym where we train. I had a card table from Walmart as my rack. A far cry from a set up that could expand to play a rave with lights and a bass thump that blew the roof off.
As soon as I played the first song, the smile on the face of the birthday girl gave me that familiar warm tingle, awhhh there it is. Guests arrived, heads bobbing in time to their favorite pop songs from the 80s, feet tapping, bodies swaying. Yeah this is what I have missed, that rush you get when you see individuals turn into a collective group all caught up in a single moment of joy.
As a DJ it is your job to get them, and hold them there. Each song building on all those memories of happiness attached to music they love. Songs they grew up with. Songs they got married to, songs they said good-bye to. Songs that healed their broken hearts. And songs that transported them no matter where they were at that moment, to some better place. It went off! “Turnt up!”
Something I'm proud of, after so many gigs, the best thing I gave was not my mixing, not any of the technical stuff. What I brought was an ability to fall in love with the crowd and connect with them. Give them what THEY wanted to hear.
When I closed out the night with my traditional “Last Dance” crooning disco by Donna Summers, the party goers and the hosts were so thankful and excited. I left feeling high. After all, isn’t that why I became a DJ because I love music.
I attended an event recently. The first thing I heard when I walked in was the DJ. The music was blown out, the mixes were jagged, the drops missed, and the dancers although ready to dance, couldn’t move to the unusual tempo choices.
My husband and I went to go check out the setup. I was shocked. The DJ not even able to view the crowd, to see the people he was playing for, was carelessly talking to someone and just sliding songs back and forth.
First, it made me sad, because of the missed opportunity for both the DJ and the guests. Then it just made my ears hurt. I was disappointed and even a little angry. Because after all, he’s a DJ, doesn’t he love the music?
I left with a new fire in my belly. I woke the next morning to requests from others to DJ some gigs for them. So, I said “yes” but only to volunteer. For me at this time in my life DJ’ing and music are not my business. Music is my passion, and DJ’ing is something I can do for my friends because it’s fun. To have just for a moment, an opportunity for a whole room to fall in love.