Thursday, June 11, 2009

DJing in L.A. (2007)

FROM THE ARCHIVES, June 11 - This originally posted on my old Myspace blog, 9/5/07.

You've deejayed at the Cha Cha Lounge in Silverlake twice before, so tonight should be a breeze. You've brought your equipment, and a big bag of pretzels, and a fresh shirt. The room is festively decorated, and smells a little of bleach. Don't get nervous. Your old friend Andy Coronado tends bar. You and he share your most recent personal failures - he has started wearing wacky plaid shorts, you have been called "m'am" by a Starbucks employee just that afternoon - and then it is time to take your place in the back booth. It is good to get out of the house every once in a while. Don't forget to make eye contact with people. Human interaction is its own reward.

9:45 PM - Ben the filmmaker and Randy from the band No Age visit the booth and Randy tells you that, from a distance, he thought you were "a Filipino". Maybe you misheard that. It is good to see these guys. Later, you play "Mr. Big Dick" by Schooly D, and are told that this song apparently bums people out. No more blue material in tonight's set.

The goal of this trade is to play music both loud enough and good enough to make passers-by on the street reconsider liquor. As a DJ in L.A., you have an extra task; to make celebrities take notice of your skills. You don't see any celebrities in the bar, but that doesn't mean there aren't some in the neighborhood. Crank it up. There is a statistically real possibility that Loni Anderson will be passing the 2300 block of Glendale Boulevard at the exact moment you flawlessly segue from Negazione to Serge Gainsbourg and that, finding herself unexpectedly moved in equal parts by your flawless technique and stunning eclecticism, she will order her limo to pull over so she can call her lawyers and arrange for you to DJ her grandson's bar mitzvah or whatever. It's possible.

9:50 PM - Andy comes over to the booth and informs you that the music is too loud. Fine, you say with a curt smile, adding that you do find it a little odd that no one else in the entire bar has complained about the noise.

11:45 PM - A funny thing about deejaying; it gives you lots of time to recline in those plush leather booth seats and ponder all the mistakes you've made with your life. There have been so many. The bar's turntables sit idle before you; using two ipods, your job consists mostly of pushing the right button at the right moment. Try not to screw that one up too.

The eye searches for validation. You seek the tapping foot, the subtle head nods of reflection and appreciation. It's like all these people just came here to drink and don't even care about the music. One lady near the bar makes odd punching motions to the last tom rumbles of The Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way", but her gesture is probably ironic.

12:45 AM - Ben and Randy and everyone else you know is gone. Andy has been consumed by customers. You still have hours to go. The seats are relaxing, the music is booming, Loni has not yet arrived. The passion has gone out of your set, and yet strangers continue to surge through the door. Young women in cowboy boots, angry guys with ugly beards, don't these people have jobs to get to? Won't somebody just turn the frigging music down so you can get some rest?