NYC Electro

Catastrophe in the DJ Booth

Most of the time when DJing, everything goes swimmingly. You put up with the relentless requests from girls (I don't mind that part), you play the right songs at the right time, people sing and dance and every one has a good time. Other times... well things can go the other way. A catastrophe can happen that has the potential to ruin the party. This happened for me on Saturday, luckily, it only happened in the DJ booth. It was a chain of events that may have wrecked that club environment. Click through for the full story, also for more pictures of the night.

Oops, I broke my needle!

Good Times, Bad Times (you know I've had my share):
Some gigs are good, some are bad. Some nights its packed, some nights its not. Sometimes the equipment is perfect, sometimes you need to find work arounds or bring your own gear. Basically, its hit and miss, and many times those things are out of your control. As DJs though, we know that anything can happen at anytime. We tried to come prepared for the worst, and trust me, when it goes wrong, we learn/adapt quickly. DJs constantly mix music on the fly, so it makes sense that we can solve problems on the fly too. This is what I had to do, and fast. Let me set the scene.

It was Satruday night, at Solas in NYC's East Village. The party was jumping and the place was at capacity.  It was at the height of the party, maybe about 1:30-ish, and I had the people under my finger and the vibe was right. Everyone was drinking, dancing, singing along to the songs, jumping and putting their hands up on my cue. You know, all the good stuff that DJs love about DJing. I was in the zone. But that zone started to get rocky for me, in the booth at least.

The Build-up:
This place was kinda dusty, as many DJ booths are, so I needed to clean my needles every hour or so. It was not so smart of me, but I was using my finger to get them clean due to the fact that I left my needle brush at home. While I was in the zone, I notice another dust bunny under my right needle. I a hurry, I reach to clean my needle and and accidentally pulled the stylus back and broke it. Its a lot like pulling your fingernail back, there is no fixing it. And it hurts too, but in a different way, its sad :(.

But really, thats not too bad, I have 2 backup needles for just this occasion. I replace it, laugh it off, and keep going. That was hiccup was the tip of the iceberg. I play one more song and BOOM! Serato explodes (figuratively speaking). I was unable to load any tracks use Serato at all. All I as looking at was the mac spinning beach ball "wait" icon. You know the program has crashed when this happens. Luckily, when Serato has a problem, the song that was previously playing keeps playing for a short period of time.

Tic Tock:
There as a brief panic in my heart, the people were unaware of any problems, but in about 45 seconds, they would be all too aware there was a problem. The music was about to stop playing! When that happens you can guarantee one thing will happen, you will get boo'd! This is not a fun experience. Usually its an equipment problem that causes the music to stop, and this was no exception, but try explaining that to 200 people. The time was running out so I had to think fast.

45 seconds to go, I thought: "What am I going to do? Oh, my iPhone." I scrambled to find my iPod cord and hook to the mixer. I searched in my bag and all around the booth but I could not find it anywhere. Every new place I looked was another few seconds waisted. 30 seconds to go. The people were still unaware of a problem and were still singing to the song "saying ey-oh" (Dynamite by Tiao Cruz). I still had no cord! What do I do? 20 Seconds to go, saying eh-yo, and Im saying oh no!

Luck of Lucien:
15 sends to go. It finally dawns on me: "Play a record, duh!" I scramble and pull out one of the three backup records I brought with me (i used to bring many more). I pulled out this awesome reggae remix of Jackson Five's "I want you back" that I have never played for a club crowd. I was a bit nervous that it would kill the dance floor but I had no choice. I thew it in, on time (an on beat) and everyone cheered! PHEEEWWWW! That was close and they loved that version of the song. Unfortunately, that record is only 3.5 minutes long, so I was still under the wire, but almost in the clear.

I was lucky and got my Serato rebooted quickly, and I was on to the next song/live remix. Catastrophe avoided and the audience was none the wiser. They were still in the zone, even higher than before, still singing and dancing. I was in the clear. My adrenalynn was pumping. I took a deep breath, a sip of my drink and kept rocking-it. That was a close one.

As DJs, we got to think on our feet. We need to keep the music going at all costs. We are like the boy scouts of music, always come prepared. Sometimes, the DJ becomes MacGyver to make the music play. Mostly things go as planned, but when they don't, good thing the DJ is a quick thinker under pressure.

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  1. Nice story! I’ve definitely been there and that is a scary feeling when you’re about to become “DJ dead air”! That’s exactly why I still bring 10-15 records with me to every party… you NEVER know!!!!

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