I did my second DJ set for a dance party on Saturday. Don’t consider that an advertisement because truly I don’t have skills like many others I know. I just tend to have extensive musical knowledge and a lot of self-perpetuated hype.
At the same time though, it really doesn’t matter to most people. Because most people just want to hear the hits. And that’s why “Girls” by the Beastie Boys drags everyone into the room during my set. It’s also why when I semi-competently mix a Matt and Kim song into it, the room clears out and I’m left screaming the lyrics and dancing maniacally by myself.
Now, I’m not claiming that I’m being held down as a DJ in this situation because I have hardly any ambitions of semi-greatness or local popularity. But for some, the dance scene in San Luis Obispo is a bit stifling. For some reason, it’s easy for most people in town to drag down to a bar and sip a beer while watching their musical act of choice be inventive. However, they aren’t quite as open to inventive mixing from a skilled DJ after a parade of tequila shots on a Saturday night.
Don’t take this as a hate on popular music. I’m just asking for something a bit better than some kid with ADD who forget to take his Ritalin managing a computer playlist loaded with top 40 hits and classic bangers.
Whether said songs are better than other songs is inconsequential, the point is the man behind the tables (if they do actually exist at your bar of choice) tends to be relying more on sound business choices as compared to artistic integrity.
To be honest, most of the best turntable experts haven’t made it out of the house party locally. A huge glass ceiling exists that keeps DJ’s focusing on inventive showmanship as opposed to the big hits out of downtown.
Now, here’s the hard part. I could throw a fit and blame the businesses downtown for not taking chances. But that’s really not the problem. The problem is that students don’t really take the chances that would ensure any sort of venture would be remotely successful.
Because no matter how big the opportunity most locals get to spin at a big venue, they still hit the brick wall of drunken requests and demands the hits. In fact, many would go so far as to ask for what’s played in the clubs. The truth is the real clubs in big towns do take these chances.
The skill and power is recognized. It’s not about moving a singalong from the car to the dance floor accompanied by a potential hook-up. Instead, it’s about power and skill and build.
It’s about the buildup that’s shaking down the sides of the windows. And it’s building and building and building. And the ultimate sexual release comes when the build reaches a fever pitch and explodes leaving a trail of sweat and squirming bodies along the landscape.
As I said, I in no way feel held down. I suck at DJ’ing. I’m just a musical obsessive. I feel let down though. Because with more creative openness, the weekends could turn a lot easier into even more of what people want: a wild, crazed, animalistic romp through extravagance and heavy intoxication.
This town is supposed to be an art town. DJ’ing is an art form, a guaranteed art form. As college students, it’s the easiest art form to embrace. Because it is an art form built around youth, and wildness and a freedom from being held down. It’s an art form about letting loose.
So, the next time you hit the streets for your night out, really let loose. Grasp the floor. Let the DJ take control. I guarantee the night will be amazing.
Show tip: Sorry, no tip. It’s time for Thanksgiving. However, local band the Bloody Heads just released a new EP that might interest you and give you some warm thoughts of SLO while you are at home with the family.
Graham Culbertson is a journalism junior and general manager for KCPR.