DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Seven.
Saturday, 2017.06.24, 1:24 PM CST.

Lessons learned from PROG51, and I'm going to have to go back on my word, kind of.
Current Mood:  Kind of weirdly re-energized.
Current Scent:  Rochas Man by Rochas.

Note:  This post will not be family-friendly.  It will contain some language that some may find offensive.  If you are offended by curse words, this would be a good entry to skip.

Also, this one is lengthy - but important.  It concerns my future as a DJ and as a Tulsa promoter/organizer.


Once upon a time, there was a young man whom I will call "The Boy Who Cried 'I Quit.'"

He was a local club event promoter who also worked as a DJ sometimes... and at least twice in my imperfect memory, I can remember him publicly announcing that he was "retiring" as a DJ.

Then, a few months later, he would announce that "DJ RectalSweat" (not his real DJ moniker) was doing something like "making his return to our event!!!" and make it sound like it was a big, historic thing for the sake of more hype.

Then, later on, when he thought another event needed a boost, he would announce something like "This will be DJ Rectalsweat's FINAL performance!" and try to get more of his buddies to show up at the event to catch what would (of course!) be the last time he would step behind his laptop.  Then, a few months or a year or whatever later, the Boy Who Cried "I Quit" would decide that DJ RectalSweat might have one more performance left in him (hallelujah!), so everyone really needed to be there for his glorious return once again.

The Boy Who Cried "I Quit" brought his Tulsa promotions days to a close when he was accused (with multiple witnesses) of beating the shit out of one of his DJs - one of the most popular DJs in Tulsa's industrial/alternative scene.  Word quickly spread, and the Boy Who Cried "I Quit" never DJed or organized another event in Tulsa again.

...and that was the story of him.


I am not retiring.
I have never announced "I retire."  If you ever see me announce that I am retiring from DJing, you can pretty much bet on two things:

  • I'm really, seriously, no-kidding retiring.
  • I'm doing it for reasons related to my health.

I'm not about to retire yet, and if I ever do, I damn sure won't do it as a marketing gimmick.  I'm 45 years old, I've been in the industry for almost 30 years, and I've been actively DJing for almost 28 of those.  As far as DJing is concerned, I've still got a few really good years in me.

I'm not ready to quit entirely.  I'm not about to.

Not yet.


PROG51... bombed.
I have built a reputation on a foundation of honesty and integrity.  Without those two things, I wouldn't feel like much of anything.

So, just like I can honestly say that May's MODENIGHT event was a surprisingly enormous success, I also have to admit that June 10's PROG51 musical gathering was a failure.

I could say (not quite accurately) that it was because the Tulsa Tough bicycling event was going on that weekend.  I could say (with some degree of desperate hope) that it was because of other events happening that weekend.  I could say (very inaccurately and unfairly) that it was because Tulsa is lame and that the people here suck.

But... I won't.  I'm not going to make excuses.  The responsibility for the event's failure ultimately rests on my shoulders.

PROG51 failed... because of me.

I put too much stock in the idea that a large group of Tulsans would want an event that ultimately memorialized a fairly narrow-minded subset of music and our culture:  Mohawk Music, Beat Club, and KTOW Progressive Radio.  Obviously, I miss and love all three of these (especially Mohawk and KTOW), and I considered this my "gift" to those others in the community who would enjoy the event.  It turns out that was a gift that hardly anyone wanted.

On top of that, I didn't advertise it well.  I repeatedly made a point of stating that it was "not a dance party," which apparently confused people.  I got posters printed, but I didn't put a lot of them up.  I came up with a crappy new logo for the event that really, in retrospect, was amateurish and didn't bring with it any continuity from 2016's far superior PROG51 logo.  I used Facebook too heavily to pimp the event, even paying Facebook to have the event promoted further, and I didn't make wise decisions overall.

I sank countless hours into preparing and presenting this event.  I took a gamble.  And, in the end, whereby MODENIGHT was wonderful, the second annual PROG51 was... abysmal.

Not many people showed up that night, and most of the people who did show up weren't there for the event.  A rather large group of younger hipster-esque individuals wandered in around the midpoint to get drunk(er) and/or play shuffleboard, but they certainly weren't there for the music.

One of them - a heavily-moustached douchebag who was disappointed that I didn't have one obscure Talking Heads song of which I've never heard - was even kind enough to tell me to "keep playing shitty music" as he was walking out.

Okay, so that guy can go screw himself.

But the rest of the failure... was my responsibility.  I accept it.

I failed Tulsa with the event, and worse yet, I failed the good people at Lot No. 6, who were kind enough to allow me to hold the event there.

And you know what?  I did what I thought was "my best" at the time.  I played a pretty damned awesome set that hardly anyone got to hear.  I'm earnestly sorry that it didn't turn out better, but I can't fix that.


I didn't take the failure well.
After it was over, as I was loading up my gear and licking my proverbial wounds, I thought about going online and posting a long, angst-filled Facebook rant about how badly things went, vowing that with the exception of two events that I had already put on my schedule, I didn't plan on doing any more public performances for the rest of the year.

Instead, I went home and I slept on it, so that I could be more rational in my decisions.

Later in the morning, once I woke up... I proceeded to post a long, angst-filled Facebook rant about how badly things went, vowing that with the exception of two events that I had already put on my schedule, I didn't plan on doing any more events for the rest of the year.

That... yeah, that was a mistake.


So, here's where I have to go back on my word... kind of.
I have a lot of character flaws.  I have more character flaws than most people realize.  But, going back on my word isn't one of them.

Overreacting is sometimes one of them.

Beating myself up is definitely one of them.  (More on that below.)

However...   If I were to get run over by a truck or drop dead of a massive coronary later on in the year, I wouldn't want to be known as a "quitter."  That's what I would be if I gave up on public performances.

In my lengthy online rant on June 11th (which was posted to my personal Facebook page; you won't find it on the DJ Badger Facebook page), I included the following:

"I have already arranged the date and co-DJ for this year's "An Old School House Night" on August 5th, so that is still on. I may still do a performance for the Vinyl Brunch at Chimera this fall. Other than those two performances, I am not planning on DJing at any further public events for the remainder of 2017. The third 'An Old School Techno Night,' which was set for this fall, will not happen. And, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I have no plans to present PROG51 again.

You have absolutely no idea how much that saddens me."

I meant it at the time.  I really, seriously wanted to stop doing public performances until next year.  I said "I am not planning on DJing at any further public events for the remainder of 2017," but now I can just as easily say, "Well, those plans have changed" within the course of the last couple of weeks.

But... that's a weaselly cop-out due to semantics.

The fact is... I overreacted, and I was hyperdramatic, and I'm sorry.

I really, really want to do more public performances this year... and I hope that you'll forgive me for contradicting my announcement, now that a couple of weeks have passed and I've been able to really think things through.

I don't want to be seen as the type who "quits" and then "returns" just as a marketing ploy, because that's a shitty way to treat your friends and fans.  I genuinely wanted to stop performing at the time, and I hope that none of you think this was all for the sake of "hype."

Essentially, I don't want to be seen as anything close to the Boy Who Cried "I Quit."

(Then again, as long as I don't get piss-drunk and allegedly crack one of my DJs over the head with the back lid of a toilet, I'm still doing a lot better than he did.)


So... what inspired this decision to keep going?
Early last Saturday morning, as I was working out at the gym, I was listening to the audiobook of Jesse Tevelow's excellent Hustle:  The Life-Changing Effects of Constant Motion.  I purchased the Kindle version of the book late last year, and it was so inspiring that I recently ended up buying the audiobook to go along with it so that I could through the book again while driving, walking or working out.

It's not a perfect book.  It was written and published over the course of seven days by the author of the (also quite good) book The Connection Algorithm.  But, considering his self-imposed time constraints, Tevelow came up with a really great motivational work.

The main idea, as the title implies, is that one cannot just quit when things get rough - or when things are good, for that matter.  For continued success, one must keep moving - the momentum will help drive the next big project.  Willingly stopping one's progress is ultimately poisonous.

As I listened to the last ten minutes of the book, it became really clear to me that "quitting" for the rest of the year was a big, big, really stupid, asinine mistake.

And once I was done with the workout and headed to the locker room... I opened the locker, reached into my duffle bag, pulled out my "Hüstl" notebook (which I almost always take to the gym with me), and started jotting down a slew of points that I would want to make with this online blog entry.


I went home, wrote most of the entry, and then ended up not posting it right away.  I wanted to make sure that I really wanted to continue DJing despite how badly PROG51 had gone before embarassing myself further with a non-substantial declaration.

A week has passed, and I feel the same way that I did when I walked out of the gym that morning.

Here's the deal:  I loved the PROG51 events in concept.  To see the second annual PROG51 bomb that badly really, really hurt.  But... I can't allow that to stop me.  If I quit, even if it's just for the rest of the year, that means I'm not willing to take any more chances.

If I don't take any more chances, then I will have failed on a much greater level... and it will be even more difficult to "get started" again next year.  I can't allow that.  PROG51 was a stumbling block, but I can't let that kill my spirit.

I have to keep moving.  Can't stop, won't stop.


I'm trying really hard not to beat myself up.
Here's a big thing with me:  Like most people, I want to be successful.  I don't think I'll ever be "famous," but I want people to know who I am.  I have a successful (non-DJ-related) "day job" career, and on top of that, I own two different mobile DJ companies (Awesome Retro DJ Service and Bravo Pro DJ), so I'm doing okay on a professional basis.  I know how to dress professionally, how to behave in an "upscale" fashion, how to "look the part," and how to project myself as a professional.  I've got a wife and two pretty great kids, and I think I have a lot of which to be proud.

At the same time, on the inside, I still remember who I was when I was far younger - a nervous, anxiety-packed kid from a backwoods Oklahoma community, just starting in the DJ industry, and soon after, a young college student who was desperate for a high-paying career and a better lifestyle than he'd ever had.  Back then, I told myself back then that I would never carry myself like some pompous asshole who wanted to throw his weight around.

In my head, I still carry a desire to be "driven" but also "humble."

However... the way my mentality works, that desire to be "humble" sometimes pushes me to be pointlessly self-deprecating, especially internally.  When things go wrong, I tend to beat myself up a lot.  Yes, on the outside, I occasionally make self-effacing jokes and goof around at my own expense... but sometimes, in all sincerity, I'm really, really good at beating the hell out of myself when things don't go the way that I plan them.

I don't think I will ever be the most successful promoter in Tulsa, and that's perfectly fine.

But...  I also know that I'm not some kind of B-grade, back-row, newbie, hack DJ/promoter whose events aren't worth attending.  I've been at this too long, and I've been through too much shit over the course of those last twenty-nine years, to downgrade myself like that.

I really don't mean to sound self-centered by saying this, but I'm worth more than I sometimes give myself credit for.



Obviously, I've got a lot of friends who don't go to any events at all.  Some of them aren't into music.  Some of them are too busy and choose to stay home.  Some of them have social anxiety and can't stand to be out in public.  Some have other legitimate reasons that they cannot attend.  I understand all of these things.

But, if you ARE the type to go to local DJ events.... and if you want to come to my events... that's great.  I'm obviously thrilled to get a good crowd.  However, if you don't think my events are worth attending, it's a little disappointing, but I'm no longer going to sit around thinking that I'm a lousy DJ or promoter whenever I don't have a good turnout.

I will make mistakes, even though I'm a very experienced DJ and somewhat of an experienced promoter by this point... and, as I stated on this site several months ago, I will still make every effort to remain one of the most professional, dependable, respected event promoters in the Tulsa area.

I will never be the most prevalent DJ in Tulsa - frankly, I don't have enough time for that to even be a possibility - but I promise that I will always put a lot of effort into each and every performance.  I will try not to take myself too seriously, and I love having fun at my events, but as always, I'm going to continue giving my performances "my all."  No half steps.  No half measures.  No half-assed events.


So, what does this mean?
I'm accepting that PROG51 was a disaster, and I'm moving on to (hopefully) better events in the future.  You can look forward (or not) to at least a few more performances in 2017, including:


An Old School House Night - August 5th
The Tulsa Vinyl Society's Vinyl Brunch - appearance pending
Pop in a Blender - hopefully restarting in August/September??


Thanks again to everyone who has continued to support me and my projects.  I'll have more news very soon.