For the last 10 years or more I have held a part-time job that I refer to as my weekly diversion from the rest of life. I am a DJ a local roller rink for their weekly Wayback Wednesday. I usually post the playlist at the end of the night on another social media platform and used to get some comments, but that platform seems to have lost popularity of late so I am looking at another means to post the playlist where there are links to the songs. I used to do this through this blog and a perl script, but there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get all of that accomplished anymore.
Over the years, I have started to recognize the various types of customers that show up on a Wednesday night. There are the small group of friends that want to do something different and will probably not be back for a couple of years. The best of those groups are the college students that raid mom and dad’s closet for some Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons gear to wear when they come out. Then there are the skaters that come to relive their youth a few times a year. We also get some parent and kid pairs that seem to be getting in some family time. Finally, there are the “regulars” where skating never stopped being part of their lives from their childhood. The age range on these skaters goes all the way up to the 70’s. The common thread among all of the skaters is the music. As the DJ, my task is often a daunting one in that I know what the regulars want to hear, but I also have to try and meet the listening needs of all the skaters.
I never go into the night with a set playlist. Any good DJ knows you will almost always have to adjust the music to the make up and mood of the crowd. I might have a couple of songs I heard on SiriusXM or found by perusing the charts on various music services, and then there’s the Promo Only subscription that attempts to provide all of the latest chart toppers and trending songs. If I can get the time to go through the new songs in the subscription, I actually can come across some new dance EDM songs that fit in the mix for the later part of the session when the focus us on shuffle skating. The latest one is by Dom Dolla – Take It. In the earlier portions of the night, I try to focus on the 70’s pop and disco scenes between 7 and 8. Eight to 9 is mostly 80’s pop and R&B with a beat and also the time for a fast skate and a couples skate just before 9. Nine is when the fun starts for me as the skaters want the beats per minute (BPM) on songs to stay the same so their long shuffle lines of multiple skaters pushing off each skate in sync with each other can continue. This is not as hard as it seems and I often start the 9 o’clock hour with something in the 110 BPM range and can end up in the high 120’s before the bell tolls 10. I love doing the blended mixing to keep the regulars going and these songs can be anything with a beat, but mostly 80’s funk and break dance beats along with some 90’s freestyle and now some newer house and EDM stuff like “Take It”.
As I type this blog entry and confess its purpose, I must admit that I am getting tired of the of some of the things I have to deal with when attempting to make everyone a happy skater. At least from the perspective of music. I am pretty good about taking criticism if I am not reading the crowd’s mood and routinely entertain requests made at the snack bar, but a 16 minute Grateful Dead song requested at 9:15 is never going to fly. My gauge on success is how many skaters can I keep on the floor because they want to skate to the music I am playing. When I see a crowd forming off of the floor, I can tell I need to do something to get them skating again. Whether it’s finding something new or going to a tried and true Freestyle Project song or Planet Rock, I can usually get them back. I want everyone to go home having heard at least a few songs they liked and exhausted from skating the whole night. Over the past year I feel like this has been a tall order to fill. At the end of the night, the posted playlists seem almost identical to the week before with the same old tired 80’s funk filling out the last hour. So what to do?
First, after missing Christmas and New Year’s Day, I am taking the month of January off. Yes, I am having a bit of withdrawal and miss my skating friends. But, I am taking the opportunity to spend more time with my parents who happen to be in the same nursing home for the moment. And, most importantly, I am taking time to reflect and make a game plan for my return. So stay tuned…
For some reason this post missed its scheduled date to get published by WordPress. But it gives me a chance to update it before making it final. While I was supposed to come back in February, I got a call from the owner that the staff for Wednesday night did not have right skill set to cover all of the positions if I wasn’t there and asked if I could come in. To be honest, I was glad to get the call. The withdrawal from DJ’ing was more than I expected. The night went pretty well and I was able to get in some of the new house and EDM stuff I have been researching to play. Here is the playlist as posted on Facebook.