Archive for August, 2006

Rewind

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Last Saturday I was the DJ Dentist. As in I had to pull teeth to get anyone dancing. The whole thing was pretty soul sucking and as I packed up I was about to chalk it up as an off night. Then the bride and groom came over, told me I did an awesome job and tipped me an extra $100. I agreed it had been a phenomenal night!

So back to the behind the scenes DJ drama this summer.

Rewind to June and the infamous Randy-Sandy wedding. called Sandy a bridezilla, but I defended her, saying she was cool and told me I did a great job at the end of the night. Apparently Sandy had a change of heart over a month later, sending my agent a nasty review ripping me apart. Score Tes 1, Steve 0.

Sandy was very upset that I called her Sandy “several times”. I only called her Sandy once and apologized and she said it was no big deal, but I guess it caused some kind of Sandy echo in her brain. She also complained that I didn’t play new music early in the night. So when I told her on the phone before the reception that I save the new music for later in the night because the older crowd goes home earlier, some other brain echo kept her from hearing me. The echo also prevented her from remembering the 40 minute dollar dance she insisted at the beginning of the night. Lil John and the Ying Yang Twins usually don’t go over so hot during a dollar dance. Though if I had Sandy’s to play again I would have let it fly. Come on Grandma, SHAKE THAT ASS, SHOW ME WHAT YOUR WORTH!

Could I have done a better job that night? Absolutely. Sometimes I am just off and all I can do is regroup and do better the next week. But what really made me want to hang up the headphones wasn’t Sandy’s review, but my agent’s reaction to the review.

Technically I have two agents, Dean and Tracy, from the same agency that book my jobs. The wrath on this one came from Tracy. Tracy tends to get me higher quality/income gigs. Unfortunately she also has a wee bit of an ego complex. Once early in my career I told her how the bride and groom complemented me on being the best DJ they’ve ever seen. Tracy replied: “Yes, you have a good agent!” So nevermind anything I actually did that night. She has no problem taking full credit for a successful reception.

But when things go bad…

Upon receiving Sandy’s review, Tracy rifled an email to me:
“These bad evaluations seem to be happening more and more frequently. Is there something that you can put a finger on that would cause these brides to be so unhappy? It is very challenging to get people to spend $750 for a DJ when there are so many others out there that cost half as much. I really try hard to land you the big money. I reflects very poorly on me when these customers put their trust in me that they are booking a quality DJ and they end up being unhappy. Any enlightenment?”

What’s the word here? Ah yes, blindsided. “More and more frequently”?? This was news to me. If there were multiple brideS unhappy with my work, this was the first I had heard of it. Which is just a little frustrating as I have asked her on at least four occasions to mail me a copy of every review, good, bad or indifferent. I replied back to her asking why I hadn’t been informed of all these frequent bad reviews. I asked how they expected to me to improve my show if they kept me in the dark. She never answered me back.

A few other points I held my tongue on. First, if there were multiple unhappy brides, it was a total of three. In addition to Sandy, one of them would be the bride who got stoned during dinner, just a few hours before her husband went apeshit on her dad – obviously all my fault. Three jobs up to that point when it would normally be six. I had three jobs fall through that Tracy did not “try really hard” to replace or even let me know they had fallen through. Not only did this not inspire me to be a fantastic DJ, but it also made it darn hard to get into any sort of rhythm.

Speaking of trying hard “to get the big money” – a $750 contract is actually about $150 less than I was averaging last summer. Ryan has been pulling in double that all summer long (and he deserves every penny), so don’t tell me the DJ market sucks right now. I know I had a great summer last year with lots of couples asking for me, so hard does she have to try?

I’m not saying Tracy has an easy job by any rate. Yes it is an immense amount of work. But at the same time, so is DJing a reception. If you think it’s just showing up and playing a couple CD’s, just try it sometime. Calling the bride to plan things out, burning music at the risk of several years in jail, driving all over the state, lifting hundreds of pounds of equipment, coordinating with the hall manager, photographer, videographer, bride’s mother, groom’s mother and above all bridezilla, dealing with drunk belligerent guests, and basically keeping two hundred people happy for six straight hours – it’s a real piece of cake.

So yeah, I was a little wounded by Tracy’s unexpected attack. I tried to keep things in perspective and not let it get to me. It got to me. I spent the week moping, upset, upset that it was making me upset, and overall just feeling sorry for myself. The last thing I wanted to do was DJ another wedding.

There was no avoiding it though. Despite my rattled confidence, I put on a happy face and committed to giving them the best effort I could. That night turned out to be my first great reception of the summer. The first one that truly felt like my show again. When it was over the bride and groom thanked me for a great night. Then the father of the bride came over.

He shook my hand but didn’t let go, instead, he grasped my arm with his other hand and said: “I just want to let you know what a good job you did tonight. I received several compliments from everyone. You really made tonight special for all of us.”

So help me I almost started crying.

After that I had two more homeruns with very satisfied brides and parents. Today in the mail I received another review from my agent. Said the bride: “He was great! He exceeded all expectations! We couldn’t have dreamed of anyone better.”

That’s more like it :)

My agent (not sure if it was Tracy or Dean) also wrote “Great Job!” with a big happy face. Then they wrote that I wasn’t calling my brides early enough in the week and I need to start contacting them first thing every Monday.

Well, what can I do, but keep rockin in the free world?

fraidy cat

Monday, August 21st, 2006

My new cat Pumpkin startles easily. She gets spooked by doors closing, doors opening, dishes clanking, paper rustling, feet walking and air molecules floating.

Today while I was petting her, she lifted her leg and farted. The sound from her furry ass terrified her and she bolted for the next room.

Actually the more I think about it, maybe everyone should follow this practice.

bumpity bumpity (Part 2)

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

For every reception I receive a planner filled out by the bride covering the agenda, names of the bridal party, music likes and dislikes and any other info I need for the night. My agent requests they send this back 30 days in advance, so I have time to plan. This particular bride felt that 30 hours in advance would be enough to plan. If this were a generic reception that wouldn’t be a big deal, but of course her planner was the most complicated I’ve had in years.

Her bridal party was the size of the Michigan State Marching Band, all with unpronounceable Klingon last names written in tiny smudged print. The formal announcement was to be made while playing Chamillionaire’s “Ridin Dirty”. Classy. No icebreaker songs (Chicken, Hokey Pokey, etc.) were to be played. New music was to be played at the beginning of the night, rotated every 5 songs with country, old school hip hop like they play on 95.5 Detroit (nevermind I live two hours north of Detroit, where this station plays “GHSHSHSHHHHKGHHSSHHHHHH”), and Latin songs – Cumbia that is, not Gregorian Chants. Also the music is to be played LOUD. She said she hates it when you can’t hear the music at the back of the room. Make their ears bleed, got it.

I never even had a chance to plan things out with her on the phone, so I knew the trainwreck potential was off the scale. I finally met her when she swept into the hall with her massive entourage. She was bridezilla only in that she was intent on controlling every detail, but to her credit she was so darn likable I didn’t mind. She took me by the arm, thrilled to see me, and immediately began planning out the introductions. I told her the order they would be introduced and she said she would line everyone up accordingly. Lesson learned that night: never let your bride line up the bridal party, especially when it is over twenty couples large and they are all drunk.

The guests took their seats and I began to announce the bridal party. However I was on the dance floor, several miles from the head table. It wasn’t till after I learned the couples had been introduced completely out of order, making me look like a schmuck. To top it off as I had everyone stand for the new bride and groom, the guests yelled at me to stop because the newlyweds weren’t ready yet. So there was mini me, staring at a wall of people’s butts, completely unable to see what was going on. I now plan to take a stepladder to all future jobs.

Finally the guests said they were ready and I introduced the new bride and groom. From there it went smoothly for several minutes. I enjoyed a nice dinner and had only one complaint from a security guard about the guests: “We had some of the Mexicans out in the parking lot smoking weed.” Those darn Mexicans! I guess they like marijuana almost as much as white people do (See earlier jobs from me, Ryan)

Finally it was time to start the dance, but before I could retrieve the bride and groom, the photographer cornered me. He was a giant bearded walrus of a man and just a little surly. He made it very clear I was to do the tossing of the bouquet immediately following the formal dances. I tried to explain I needed just four songs before the bouquet to kick off the night, but apparently walruses don’t have ears. “I’ve been here twelve hours now, and you will do the bouquet immediately.” Any time I skip my kickoff, it makes it ten times harder to establish myself with the crowd, but I also knew Mr. Walrus was one of the most respected photographers in town and not to fucked with. “Yes sir” was my reply.

I went to get the bride only to find her in tears. At least this time it wasn’t her new husband. She was very distressed because people were pulling her in every direction and her mammoth bridal party was drunk and unmanageable. Um…so you’re saying it’s a wedding reception. I assured her that was normal, the guests were having a wonderful time and everything was going fabulously. Then I found a way to make her laugh. “Somebody farted.” she snickered. Did I mention when I get nervous and stressed, I get gas? I didn’t mention it to her either.

I introduced the Bride and Groom for their first dance, then started looking for the music for the remaining three formal dances. The bridal party song I had burned earlier that day, a little Celine Dion for the father daughter dance no problem there, and for mother/son….A Song for Mama by Boyz II Men I mourn the day that miserable cursed song was recorded. Just days earlier my girlfriend and I had laughed about how I had burned multiple copies since the last Mama disaster. Yet a quick glance through my music case revealed nothing. The bride and groom’s song ended and I introduced the bridal party for their dance. Then I desperately went through every CD in my case again. Nada for Mama. I was up to the father/daughter dance now, with just over four minutes to find the song.

I knew there was a CD from my case that was in my car for some reason, so the second I pressed play for Celine Dion, I took off running for the parking lot. I got to my car, rifled through various car CDs and car junk till I found it. It had three songs on it. None of them were Mama. I hightailed it back to the dancefloor. Fifty seconds left. Palms sweating, heart pounding, I mentally started rehearsing my apology speech: “I…am…so…sorry!! Let me tell you why I suck as a DJ…” Twenty seconds to go. I glanced at the corner of my music case. A CD sat innocently at the top of the stack. I grabbed it – first track, A Song for Mama by Boyz II Men. I probably farted again at that point, but it didn’t stop me from slamming the CD into my player just as Celine read 00:00.

Disaster averted, the rest of the night was just a lot of hard work. I had the booty shaking sorority girls, the Mexican Cumbia dancers, and the old white people crowd. For some reason their musical tastes did not mesh, so it was a constant make one group happy while pissing off the other two reception. And all of it was LOUD. But by God, I finished that job without anything breaking, without any songs missed and gave that bride exactly what she wanted. She showed her appreciation with a “Thanks” and a paycheck.

So the DJ lives to play again!

bumpity bumpity (Part 1)

Monday, August 14th, 2006

There has been a lot of behind the scenes drama going on in my DJ career which I will have to save for another post. For now lets just say this summer has provided several character building opportunities, as did my job last Saturday. I have character the size of Godzilla now. And as you know, it’s the size that counts.

I went over to the hall to set up (fortunately only two minutes from my house) a full five hours before the reception. Plenty of time to load in the equipment, get it running, go to the store for blank CD’s to burn formal music, shower, dress and get back to the hall ready to rock.

Setting up the equipment took a little longer though because I couldn’t find help to lift my light truss. I tried to take Ryan’s advice and just throw it on my shoulder first, then lift it on to the stands. The good news is I didn’t break anything, but I think I need a trip to my chiropractor now. I finally found someone to help, but he was even shorter than me. The lights again came within inches of annihilation, but somehow we got them up.

The real trouble started when I flicked the power button to the show. It stayed on for at least three seconds before popping the breaker on the power bar. I tried it with a different power bar – same result. I wasn’t worried though. Aside from lights and music, I had everything I needed to DJ the reception.

As always when my technical prowess fails to come through, I called Ryan. He was less than thrilled but was at the hall within ten minutes. He quickly determined that both the power distribution panel and the light co-pilot were what is known in engineering terms as “fucked”.

Also Ryan had to have his show set up in the next town over within twenty minutes for his first Bar Mitzvah ever. “Bar Mitzvah” is actually Hebrew for “Throw lots of money at the DJ”. Ryan had been trying for years to crack the market and finally had his chance, only to have half my show go all meshuga.

One of Ryan’s favorite songs is “And The Race Is On” and for good reason. We jumped in his truck, he called his contact at the DJ equipment store and told him what we needed, we raced over to the store, played with their toys briefly, paid for the replacement equipment, sped over to his hall, found the banquet room (everything covered in ocean blue with rainbow accents and giant fish balloons – just what you would expect for a manhood rite of passage), set his show up, raced back to my hall, and installed the new equipment.

I now had one hour left to get dressed and get back to the reception. No problem. It wasn’t till I got home that I realized I still had to burn the requested music. This proved difficult since I never made it to the store to buy blank CD’s. My turn to call for help. This time my girlfriend, and friend came through in a big way. (Thank you both!!!)

So despite everything I still managed to make it to the hall before the bridal party, with all the music I needed and a fully armed and operational DJ Show. I took a deep breath. It had been a very stressful afternoon.

Almost as stressful as the reception itself….

Nephewww

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

My brother Will on the phone:

“Yeah he’s making all sorts of noise now. Let me see if I can get him to say something here…Oh you pooped! You stink!!”