DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Thirty-Two.
Wednesday, 2020.08.19, 5:51 PM CST.

A story about 1995... and why I don't mind LONG online sets.
Current Mood:  Fortunate and grateful.  Maybe a little tired.
Current Scent:  Sunday Brunch by Kierin NYC.


So, summer, 1995.

It's so hard to believe that it was twenty-five years ago... but it was.

It was a Saturday afternoon around the middle of July (I think), and HOT.  Ridiculously hot.  Like, 104-105 degrees Fahrenheit.

I was preparing for a gig at a lake resort for a client, and while I normally would refuse outdoor gigs... this one, I had taken.  I don't remember why.

The EKG Mobile Music staff that day included myself, my longtime friend Tom "Gilligan" Holbrook, a young guy named Steve whom I had met through my old pal Dave French, and my dad, who often helped with events as much as he could.

As per routine with EKG, we drove two vehicles:  A white and brown VanDura carrying the heavy DJ gear, and a big, brown station wagon with the music - usually seven or eight FULL milk crates of vinyl, plus CDs.

So, we got there, and I confirmed where we needed to set up... on a concrete slab down by a lake.  Just an open concrete slab out in the sun, with no covering whatsoever.  I think I knew this going in, so I wasn't cranky with my clients about it... but I can still remember it being BRUTALLY, inhumanely hot outside while we set up.

We had to set up a ten-foot truss full of lights, Peavey SP3 speakers stacked on top of 18" Black Widow subwoofers, and, of course, all of the standard DJ gear like the turntables and whatnot.  For the first and only time that I can remember, we took shifts - guys would get out of the van, do some work, then come back to the shade inside the van for some Gatorade or soda or water for a while... while someone else left the van to continue the work.  It was horrible.

The entire setup probably took about two and a half hours total... because this was back when mobile DJ services actually believed in giving people their money's worth.

I specifically remember putting up chairs and a tarp over the vinyl records to keep them out of the direct sunlight.  I still worried about them getting warped, but somehow, they survived.  My clients - some sort of education-related group, I think - gradually showed up after we set up, and we partied like usual.  I remember the event going pretty successfully.  The music was fun, and the lights set the mood as the sun mercifully went down.



And then, once it was dark... the bugs came.  Oh, God, the bugs.

At the time, I thought they were mayflies, but after a bit more research, it seems that they were very likely crane flies - about an inch long each, non-biting, but incredibly annoying.  This insane swarm of crane flies flew up from the lake area and landed on everything - speakers, lights... I even think I had to "shoo" one or two off of spinning records.  There had to be hundreds of them total around the whole party area, just everywhere.  It was awful.  Oh, and it was still really warm and sticky outside, even after dark.  So, yeah... from a performer's point of view, it was pretty much absolutely miserable.

Once the party concluded a few hours later (I think the party went from 7 PM to 11 PM, but it's been a few years), our clients left, and we took an hour and a half to two hours cleaning the bugs off the gear, breaking the gear down, and putting everything back in the vehicles.  Then, we drove back to my house - maybe a 45- to 60-minute drive.

So, we're talking about about nine hours of work, not counting a couple of hours of driving.  With the exception of the heat and the bugs, this was still about a standard timeline for an EKG performance.



Summer 2020 - a special Radio SRO set.

So... a quarter-century passed.  And, a few weeks back, I announced on Facebook that on August 8th, I was going to start my online Radio SRO shift at 5:00 PM central time, two hours early, in order to play a two-hour classic reggae set before starting the usual Radio SRO (vintage alternative "radio") set at 7:00 PM, and then following that with the Groovy Train (classic "club" music) from 10:00 to at least midnight and probably 1:00 AM - so, most likely, a full eight-hour performance, easily the longest I'd done for SRO-i/Radio SRO thus far.

The supportive comments that I received in response to the announcement were very flattering; one of the best ones called me a "beast" for being willing to tackle a eight-hour DJ shift.

I ended up taking the performance to 1:45 AM, since I kept thinking of song after song that I wanted to tack onto this rather epic set.  When it was all said and done, I had counted EIGHTY-SEVEN tracks that I'd played over the course of those eight hours, forty-five minutes.

I was tired, yes.  Exhausted.  However, I felt exhilirated as well... and I didn't feel like I'd done anything extremely unusual or "beast-like."

You know why?  Because I could still remember that summer party in 1995.  I could still mentally feel the grueling heat and visualize the swarms of bugs all over everything.  I could remember the absolute misery that I used to go through when I was doing mobile DJ work for parties on a regular basis.


These days, as far as the world of DJing goes, I'm an old man.  I'm definitely not a "beast."  I'm no Superman when it comes to DJing.  I'm just experienced.  I remember what it was like to go through nine hours of hell, including a lot of physical labor in the heat, to provide people with only four hours of actual DJ performance time for that party in 1995.

In other memories... I can remember being harrassed by drunks at reunions and corporate parties and being threatened face-to-face for not playing their requests sooner.  I can remember having a bunch of spoiled little shitlings at the Union Seventh/Eighth Grade Center hurling handfuls of Skittles at me and my gear while the parents and staff looked on, presumably because I wouldn't play their precious Marilyn Manson or "gangsta" rap requests.  I can even remember a fateful night in the early 1990s, following a class reunion in Chelsea, when we discovered during teardown that someone in the crowd had quite copiously vomited onto a bunch of our speaker/power cords at some point during the event.

So, yeah... I guess you could say that in the grand scheme of things, over the last three decades, I've "paid my dues" as far as DJing goes.  But, more importantly, I've been through some relatively horrific circumstances that allow me to really appreciate my current circumstances.



Please don't get me wrong:  The online performances for Radio SRO require a lot of work.  They take away time that I could spend with my family, and each week requires a considerable deal of preparation, graphic design for promotion, and overhead (especially insofar as investing in "new" vintage music).  It's real work, and the donations that I receive each week from our listeners are greatly, greatly appreciated.

However, don't think that I'm bitching about the Radio SRO work... I'm not.  I LOVE what we're doing with Radio SRO.  I feel extremely fortunate that Tim Barraza has allowed me to collaborate with him and use the SRO name, and I feel grateful beyond words to those of you who are tuning in every week, listening, watching, interacting and (when you can) donating.  It is indeed a lot of work, but I get to do the entire thing in air-conditioned comfort, without having to drive anywhere, without needing to set up and tear down a bunch of heavy gear, and without dealing with all of the numerous pitfalls that went along with mobile/event/wedding DJing decades ago.

Nothing being thrown at me, no snotty venue owners, no time limits, no "bridezillas," no plastered know-it-alls, no vomit, no scorching heat, and no swarms of bugs.

Once you take all that shit out of the equation, eight or nine hours of playing music on camera and chatting with people who genuinely appreciate me seems like a pretty damned sweet gig... because it is.

So, you can call me a "beast," and I'll be very thankful... but, considering what I've been through in the past, this is wonderful.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this very fulfilling venture thus far... here's hoping Radio SRO will continue for a mightly long time to come.


More soon!




***Addendum, 2020-08-26, 12:50 PM***

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this post ever since I wrote it.  I didn't mean for it to come across as if being in 105-degree heat, then having to deal with a bunch of bugs, was the lowest possible depth of human misery.  One of my respected DJ comrades is currently working out in the Middle East, and I'm betting that he's having to deal with far more miserable conditions than I did on that particular day.  There are people who are homeless and wondering where their kids' next meals are going to come from.  There are cancer patients out there fighting for their lives and not knowing how many days they have left.  So, don't get me wrong:  On an overall basis, I have led an extremely lucky life.  But, as far as the conditions for DJ performances are concerned, that gig in 1995 was indeed pretty awful.  Thanks again.

The views/thoughts expressed above, just like every other view expressed on my site, are mine as an individual.  They do not necessarily reflect or agree with the views of any company for which I work, nor any company for which I've ever worked, nor any company that I own.