Twenty years ago I opened a box of equipment that I had ordered and found something extra had been shipped with
my order. At first, I thought it was simply a sales magazine with more equipment. However, it was an edition of a magazine billed as “the official trade newsmagazine for professional mobile disc jockeys.” As I glanced through it, I wondered how long had I been missing out on this great source of information. Looking back at the cover, I saw that the date was April-May 1991 and across the cover was written “Premier Issue, Collector’s Edition.” Though I was glad that I hadn’t missed any issues, I didn’t immediately pick up the phone to get a subscription. The next month I again ordered some equipment and was surprised when the second edition of this new magazine was included with my order. This, I thought, was an omen. It was time to pick up the phone and get on board to receive every issue, without having to buy hundreds of dollars of equipment every other month to get a “free” copy, of Mobile Beat Magazine. The phone call I made to place my order for a subscription to Mobile Beat was a call that literally changed my life.
A WRITER IS BORN
As I began placing my order, I had no idea that I was actually speaking with the editor and publisher of the magazine, Bob Lindquist. Prior to finding that out, I was speaking highly of a book that I had recently read, called Spinnin’ 2000 and asked him if he had read it. His reply was, “Yes, in fact I wrote THAT book.” For a brief moment, I was speechless.
After recovering my wits a bit, I described my own fascination with keeping track of requests and creating lists for special occasions. When I asked Bob if he would like to see some of my lists, he told me to fax him a few of them. It took over a year, but he called me back one day to ask if I could create a list for a ten year high school reunion, write an article to go with it, and publish it in the next issue. Naturally I said yes. For me, it was going to be a once in a lifetime chance to write one article for a magazine. Well, that “once in a lifetime” event turned into a lasting relationship with the magazine and its loyal readers: I’ve enjoyed the privilege of writing the PSWCDT column in every issue since issue number eleven.
RETROSPECTIVE: DANCING THROUGH THE DECADES
In many ways, this issue’s selection of songs was one of the easiest to create in quite some time, as I reviewed the past twenty years of music to create a top ten list for each year. We track every request at our events and update our database on a regular basis, so it was a simple matter of culling through the various lists for each decade.
Looking back, one surprise was that many years simply didn’t have a very strong showing of dance music. The songs from the late 1990s and early 2000s are rarely requested at events. But of course there are some songs that are mainstays like the “Cha Cha Slide,””Hey Ya,””Gettin” Jiggy Wit It,?”and “C’mon ‘N’ Ride It ( The Train)” that still get requested frequently.
From my perspective as a DJ, one marked improvement I’ve seen in recent years has been the rise in popularity of mainstream pop music that is very danceable. This is why, for 2010, I couldn’t narrow the list down to only ten songs. There are a lot of great songs now on the airwaves that can entice mainstream audiences out onto the dance floor. While in some previous years it was harder to find good dance music that everyone liked, more recently, with artists like The Black-Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Kesha, Rihanna, Flo-Rida and many more pumping out radio super hits that also have a killer dance beats, the mobile DJ’s job has gotten easier.
CHANGING VEHICLES, SAME DESTINATION
There are two paths to take for any anniversary or reunion. One route is to look back and see how things have changed.
The other is to see how things have remained the same. In preparing for the twentieth anniversary of Mobile Beat, I pulled from my shelf that first issue of the magazine. As I thumbed through it, I saw a survey on page 25 which asked for feedback from DJs on the premier edition. One question on the survey asked about the percentage of “your music” that was in different formats. The three choices were CD, tape, and vinyl. Many DJs reading this issue have never used tape or vinyl, and many perhaps even skipped using CDs. But the format of delivery isn’t really what is important. The most important aspect of our job hasn’t changed in twenty years. It is the client’s expectation that the mobile DJ will enhance the experience at an event where musical entertainment plays a critical role.
Many people over the past several years have asked me if I feel threatened by the use of iPods, laptops or other devices where people can easily store, sort and play their own music at their event and circumvent the use of a professional DJ. It’s an easy question to reply to. The answer is that I’ve never felt any competition coming solely from a “delivery device.”
As a mobile DJ, my objective is to create an unforgettable experience. Whether it is a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding or a regular monthly school dance, each guest should walk away feeling “wowed” by the DJ’s performance.
At a recent youth event, I watched about 400 ten to twelve-year-olds having a great time dancing and partying for two and a half hours as one of my top DJs interacted with them.
At the end of the night, when they were getting picked up by their parents, I held the door open for them to tell them good night. I was rewarded with huge smiles, and overheard many of them telling their parents what a fantastic time they had at the dance. They were also talking about my awesome DJ and how much energy he had. Never will there be a day when you hear someone say what a great iPod someone brought to the event, or how the cool laptop high-fived them and talked with them throughout the evening.
My plans are to still be DJing for at least another twenty years and hopefully still writing this feature when it’s time to write for the fortieth anniversary edition. If that happens, you can bet I’ll still be giving the same advice for success. The successful mobile DJ is always ready with great music and super performance skills when someone comes up and shouts, “Play Something We Can Dance To!” MB
Filed Under: 2011, Events, Music
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