Well – even my most recent DJ gig feels like an eternity ago. This has been a crazy, crazy year for this little spinning rock out in the Milky Way.
I don’t know what I expected from 2020, but, well… not this *gestures at everything*.
I feel like everyone needs to find ways to put a smiles on faces, and one of my favourite ways is to share stories . Well, here’s a selection of highlights of my greatest DJ-related “incidents” – gather round the campfire…
Know your limits
Early in my career I was delighted to pick up a residency at Nottingham’s legendary Market Bar, for their brilliant weekly Universal Funk & Hip Hop night. At first I did the warm up for an hour or two, then progressed to the late slot, with someone warming up for me. Eventually, I had the whole night to myself – I was delighted, as this meant more money, and I could dictate the pace of the night, which was rammed every single week.
One week, I joined friends for dinner before my set (which started around 10pm). We went for tapas at a nice little Spanish restaurant nearby. Red wine was flowing, and after we paid, I headed to get started at my set. A bunch of the bar staff had the night off – great! I always loved having people in the booth, largely to send to the bar for drinks, and share those shots with me. These guys never stopped bringing sambuca my way. The next thing I remember, I’m waking up, sitting bolt upright in my room the next morning, with a spectacular case of “what happened?”-itis.
Pure panic was flowing through me, but I didn’t really know why.
I checked my wallet – no money. That was weird – this gig paid cash on the night.
Where were my records? Not in my room, not in the hall? Had I been robbed on the way home? Wait… a sinking feeling hit me.
It turns out that smashing loads of red wine before a set, then nailing endless sambucas with a load of barmen is a REALLY bad way to stay on top of your DJ game. Around peak time, I had apparently taken my headphones off, declared that I was too drunk to continue, and sat down. And then shortly after that, stood up, opened the fire escape, and gone home. This was back in the days of vinyl, so after a couple of minutes the record ran out, and that familiar crackle of static at the end of a record filled the club. The manager had to jump on the decks and make the best of what they could using the records I had left behind. Incredibly, I didn’t lose my residency!
The strange case of the 2 beds
Staying at The Market Bar – there was another time a few years later, where I got lucky with one of the students. We went back to hers, kept on drinking, one thing led to another, and we did what comes naturally. At some point we passed out, on the ground floor.
And then I woke up. I looked out the window, noticed the top of a tree, and thought “that’s weird”. Shortly after this, the girl came in – “errr, why are you up here?” I don’t know, was the only answer I could give.
I’d kind of assumed that maybe I had been snoring and she’d sent me up here, but apparently not. At this point, its probably worth mentioning that I was entirely butt-naked. Not even my socks. I asked if she could fetch my clothes, and she did.
I got dressed, made my way downstairs, and headed into her room to fetch my watch and last few items, before I could get out of there. As I was leaving her room, my embarrassment was taken to the next level – her mum was in the hallway! It couldn’t have been more obvious that I had spent the night with her lovely daughter, and we exchanged a very particular sort of greeting. I was out of the front door faster than Usain Bolt.
I made my way home, absolutely cringing at the awkwardness of what had just happened. Then my phone rang – it was the girl. She laughingly asked if I knew what had just gone on – I could only mumble “not really, no”.
Well – I did go to sleep, naked, on the ground floor. The toilet was on the 1st floor. At some point in the night I had decided I needed the toilet, and wandered there, entirely nude. And then walked back down the corridor, and into the wrong bedroom. Apparently I saw someone in bed about the right shape and size and hair colour, and climbed into bed, and snuggled up.
At some point, her mum woke up realising that there was an entirely naked bald guy in bed with her. Incredibly, she didn’t wake me up, but just left me to it. I’m in awe of the calm of that woman. After this, I tended towards inviting girls back to mine…
I moved to London in 2011. I waited until I had a national Red Bull 3style championship on my CV, so that I could join the very competitive scene a few rungs up the ladder, but even with this, I found it really hard to establish myself (I’ve never been great at hustling, and in London you have to hustle!). I was getting occasional one-off bookings, but it took me a while to get a residency. When I finally did, it was a fortnightly in the basement club of a venue in The City – the financial district – on a Friday night, the busiest night in that area as all the testosterone-fuelled city boys headed out to spend the money they made that week. They used to take a crazy amount of money.
Anyway, one week, it’s about 12.30am (the venue shut at 2am) and something went wrong. Serato froze, the music suddenly died. Most DJs will be familiar with that weird moment of silence, followed by the half-cheer/half-jeer from some of the crowd. The creeping realisation that this isn’t a pause – the laptop has properly crashed. I sprang into action with my plan B – I had an aux cable plugged in, for exactly this sort of problem. It had travelled with me for years, never seeing service until now, it had reached its time to shine. I plugged my phone in as fast as I could, loaded up the playlist of party bangers I’d carefully selected so that I would never be stuck with no music if Serato did this to me… nothing. No sound. Just a dull mains hum. I jangled both ends of the cable, which did not sound great through the club system. My cable was a dud! Somewhere along the way, the endless times it had been pulled out and stuffed in my DJ bag meant it had frayed internally, and no longer did the one thing it existed to do.
By now the manager was on my shoulder shouting at me, asking what was going on. Why didn’t I have any CDs on me? To this day I’m not sure why? I’ve since learnt the easiest trick in the world – burn CDs with serato control tone and then an hour of tracks (and of course USBs with the same now too), for emergency. But I had nothing. My laptop had something seriously wrong with it, and was taking FOREVER to reboot. The crowd had lost interest, and was heading towards the exit, assuming the night must be over.
Eventually the manager simply put the house system back on (this in itself took an inexplicably long time, but I’m in no position to criticise anyone here!), and I was able at some point to resume DJing. The venue will have lost thousands upon thousands in sales. I was mortified. I assumed they wouldn’t pay me (The Market Bar certainly didn’t in the above story!), and worried that they might try to penalise me for their lost takings.
Unbelievably, when I went to the office, nobody said a thing. I signed the invoice, took my cash, and left. I came back 2 weeks later, far better prepared for an emergency, and nobody said a damn thing. It was as if it had never happened, a mad anxiety dream that felt oh so real.
I have plenty more other stories, including a fair few that I will never repeat in print, but I hope for now these have given you a laugh!