Many years ago, a good friend of mine was in Atlanta finishing graduate school. His roommate was supplementing his meager graduate student lifestyle by DJ’ing on the weekends. As Cinco de Mayo weekend approached, the roommate found himself in a bit of DJ quandry: sit for a review of his upcoming boards or forfeit a job for several thousand dollars. Career must prevail but he couldn’t afford to lose the job.
Spying us in the living room, he dangles a carrot: Do the gig for him and collect half the money. My friend, nicknamed DJ Dr. J, already knew the drill from a few previous fill-ins. I did not but the idea seemed intriguing. The roommate, who I always found to be a bit of a tool, asks me if I “really think I can learn how to do it in one day?”
Ummm, no offense, but do you need John Digweed? The party wasn’t exactly Club MTV. And I think if someone like Tommy from Eight is Enough can do it, I am up for the challenge.
So DJ Dr. J and I go to this crazy Mexican restaurant and set up in the parking lot. Several hundred people come to this bash and it is a total blast. I mean, really, give me music and a microphone and feel free to stand back. And we got paid which was not even my motivation. I just wanted to be completely in charge of the music and dropping a little lyric or two from Prince into the middle of other songs. We met fun people, had delicious sunshine all day, and even more delicious Pacificos. I volunteered for future gigs.
Later that summer, a friend, the GM of a club, was getting ready for a private party. The full time DJ gets sick. They have no backup. They call DJ Dr. J but he is going out of town. Can I fill in that night? A quick cancel of plans, an even quicker tutorial on the hightech system and the promise that I did not have to play ANY techno, I was aglow. Sparkly tube top and he was actually paying me to play mashups of Run DMC and Salt and Pepa? This was clearly more fun than a day negotiating contractual terms.
Fast forward: several months later I am at a big fundraiser. At the bar with friends, I am chatting with someone at the bar when I notice the man standing behind him in line. We make the double-take recognition of “I know you but I don’t know how I know you.” We start with the “Are you, do you know, did you work at…” and suddenly he says, “Oh, I met you last May. You were the DJ at that Mexican restaurant.”
Hmmm. This is interesting.
The man I was chatting with gives me an odd look, “I thought you said you were an attorney?”
“I don’t know many attorneys working as DJs in Mexican restaurants.”
“HA. I didn’t work there. I just worked in the parking lot. And I am not a DJ, I just play one on TV.”
Alas, DJ Dr. J graduated and moved to FL as did his roommate so my days of two turntables and a microphone. But given the chance, I am sure that just like Ralph Malph, I still got it.