Sorry it has been so long since the last installment of this fabulous series. Since the last party at Holocene was such an overwhelming success I thought I might take us on a stroll down memory lane to another Atlas night several years ago. This particular night of Atlas was the only time I am aware of where I lost a potential gig due to my errr. . . experimental ways. It was the middle of the night and I was doing my thing on stage. I was playing a couple no-brainer bhangra mashups. I had the crowd in a frothy frenzy playing a quick bhangra house take on Billie Jean. Now the thing about absolute dance floor slayers is you have to be able to follow them up. Some songs create such insane dance floors that I almost don’t want to play to them because it is difficult to find another song that can match that level of insanity. As I was watching the pandemonium below me I wondered exactly how I wanted to follow this particular song. Sometimes a DJ has the crowd going so crazy that the DJ can do whatever s/he wants. Sometimes the DJ only thinks s/he can do whatever s/he wants. Sometimes the DJ doesn’t care, the DJ’s gonna do what the DJ wants. And me, I wanna experiment.
Well, a little side story first. In the Spring of 2001 I played a crazy art studio party in a big lot overlooking the Willamette River in North Portland. All sorts of random people were there and my set was appropriately random as well. I can vividly remember the tribal rush of a Pixies-twofer. At one point I was playing a brutal Drum’n’Bass tune that was more about the thrill of the noise than it being a good dance number. A concerned friend came over to inform me, in case I hadn’t noticed, that it was not an easy song to dance to. After having said this, she then paused, had a moment of realization and said, “Oh yeah, you like to fuck with people, don’t you?” Uh, yeah, guilty as charged. Its not that I don’t want people to dance and have a good time, its just that I would rather challenge a crowd than play it safe.
So, I’m on stage at Holocene, the crowd is raging as a double-time Billie Jean beat has the majority of the club packed on the floor. And then . . .I decide to take a radical left turn (sound familiar?). I go right from a galloping house beat into . . .the slow syrupy strains of the beginng of the Kelly Roland and Nelly ballad “Dilemma.” “IK, did you really play “Dilemma” to a packed dance floor?” No, I fucking hate that song. No, the melodic intro then turns into Spanish singing, and then gears up into a merengue-house version of the song in Spanish. Uh, yeah. It’s silly, but I thought it might be fun. Instead every single person cleared the dance floor. Hmmm, not as much fun as I thought. Not one person entered the perimeter of the dance floor for the entire song. What, you thought I was gonna cut it early? Instead I thought “an empty dance floor, what a magical opportunity,” and played a completely wacky electro bhangra tune from the Notorious Jatt’s first album with chirpy sped-up Panjabi vocals. That song actually brought a few dancers back to the floor and by the next song, whatever that was, things were back to dance party central. However, I found out after the show that there were several promoters in the audience who were looking to hire Anjali and I for a gig. After my perverse set they commented to Anjali that they were not interested in hiring me because my set was inconsistent and I “couldn’t hold a dance floor.” Uhhh, what dumbass promoter thinks I was trying to “hold a dance floor” by going from a Billie Jean rip to a fucking Kelly Rowland ballad cover in Spanish? Did they really think I was doing the best I knew how to “hold a dance floor” and that I somehow thought that juxtaposition was the trick? It’s called fucking with people, or experimentation, if you prefer. Any idiot with a knowledge of popular songs can hold a dance floor. The trick is to see how far you can push it and still show people a good time. That time I slammed up against those limits big time. Ah well, I’ve never had an opportunity to play that Notorious Jatt song since, so its all good.