So, your boy has been spending a lot of time talking about and listening to DJs lately, not to mention spinning myself, and it’s got me thinking. Something about the whole process of manipulating the wheels of steel just seemed so familiar. All of the attention to detail, the tiny adjustments, the electric thrill of the perfect mix…I couldn’t help feeling that I’d been there before.
Then one day, staring down at my Technics’ hypnotic twin platters, it hit me. In what other situation does one commonly find themselves putting on a show for an audience that’s often tentative, skeptical, or completely disinterested? If you answered “teaching at a public school in the United States” you get partial credit, but that’s not the response that I wanted. On the other hand, if you said, “kicking it to a woman,” you are correct!
And yes, I’m a straight dude, so this is written from that perspective. You can either substitute your preference where applicable, or fucking relax and appreciate my genius in all of its temporarily gender insensitive, heteronormative glory. Your choice.
Now, without further ado, I proudly present the top five ways that deejaying is like pushing up.
5. Preparation Is Key – A former DMC champ told me that there’s always something that he could be doing to prep his next set. This means finding new songs, checking out the next venue, basically anything to make sure that his next gig is as smooth as an alpaca’s ass. The same is true if you’re trying to get that P.Y.T. on your team. If you’ve got friends in common, find out about her background and interests. If you’re out at a bar, notice who she’s with and how she acts. Any of this intel could mean the difference between keeping her dancing or sending her running for the exit.
4. Stay in the Groove – The groove is an abstract concept that roughly means a coherent, consistent, rhythmic flow. Like the stream of a conversation, once it’s moving along a good DJ does everything in their power to keep it rolling. It’s the same way with you and your next lady love. If you’re talking about where she’s from and she’s opening up, stay on that track until you can blend in a topic on the next deck that’s complementary. Don’t be a dummy and throw out some crap about how you hate her hometown because the girls are such airheads. It sounds obvious, but left on your own some of you dudes couldn’t feel the groove if you were a needle on a record.
3. Hone Your Recovery Tactics – Even the best DJs face glitches. The record skips, you drop the next song off beat, or that new version of Seraktor freezes right in the middle of your set. Still, it’s not the glitch, but your response to it that can make or break you. You made a joke about the phrase “Christian Scientist” being a worse oxymoron than “compassionate conservative”…only to find out that she picks up the Monitor on the way back from her Young Republicans meeting every week. Don’t go cowering beneath your decks. Cue the next track and get that bad boy pumping. Put a wrinkle in your brow, lean in, and intensely whisper, “REALLY? Well, I’m always looking for smart people to challenge my assumptions. Let’s talk about it.” Oh. Shit. Hear that? That’s the sound of you taking the party to the next level.
2. Read the Audience – You’re throwing pure audio gold out the speakers. You’re a vessel of divine musical artistry, touched by Apollo himself. The problem is that the crowd thinks that you’re just plain touched. While there’s something to be said for challenging people with unique sounds, if you go too far off the deep end you just might drown. Things are no different with that young tender. Sure, discussing the finer points of critical race theory might cement you as an intellectual in her mind, but did you ever stop to think that she’s not interested in your brain at 1:15 AM…after her third vodka gimlet? With all due respect to Lupe, you gotta dumb it down, homey. There will be plenty of time for brain later. (See what I did there?)
1. Remember the Fundamentals – Sometimes showing off is entirely appropriate. If you’ve got a killer turntablism routine, by all means unleash the Kraken on them bitches. Case in point:
But what good is it to play records using only your eyebrows and right pinky toe when the songs aren’t beatmatched and the selection has no logical flow? Similarly, it’s great that you wowed babygirl on the dancefloor when you broke out that Matrix backbend move and held it for three minutes while simultaneously doing the Kid ‘N Play Kickstep with her…including the entwined leg hop thing at the end. Kudos. But see, you dropped the ball at dinner when all you could talk about for 30 minutes was you, you, and YOU. A DJ can play an entire three hour set without using a single effect or beaming videos directly into the crowd’s brains, but if the music is tight and the transitions are smooth, everyone will love it. And guess what? She’ll be closer to loving you if you just display some common courtesy, make her smile as much as possible, and let her know that you’re feeling her. In other words, keep the basics front and center.