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    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    I Wish I Were A DJ

    Many people don't know this about me: In another life, I'd be a DJ.
    The beat -- bum bum bum bumbum bham bham bham ... -- the strobe lights, mixing board, laptop.  It turns me on.  Tonight I went to my first club in Ho Chi Minh City.  It reminded me a lot of clubs in Las Vegas: special effects, pretty girls in dancewear, well dressed waiters serving drinks -- but I couldn't take my eyes of the DJ. 
    I walked upstairs and surveyed the octagonal dance floor.  To the right, elevated, was a young man, large, noise-reducing headphones on his ears like helmets, bouncing to the beat.  Up, down flowed his hands across the electronics in front of him. First, left lever up, bounce, then right lever down a bit.  Pause.  Type on his Mac. strobes change pattern.  Bounce.
    I wished I could be him, or at least behind him, watching his hands work; a pupil studying the master.  And it occured to me that no one here got it.  Sure, the guys were scoping out the girls and vice versa.  But the true beauty in the room wasn't the heavy-makeup-wearing 20-something looking for a guy to "befriend," but the beat that got the bodies gyrating.  With every step, drop of sweat, turn, pump, smile, and slide, the beauty in the room was what flowed through the air between it all - no - it was the movements of the master creating the music. 
    My secret love affair with jockeying started as a spin-off from my more well known relationship with music.  As a ten year old boy, I sat in music class singing everything from Simple Gifts by Aaron Copeland to "I saw the sign" by Ace of Base (hey, it was the '80s).  Something moved me, connected parts of my soul I didn't know existed.  Junior high saw my romance blossom -- music and I were a true item.  I lived for choir.  Engrossed myself in the radio.  Groused at not being able to do other things because there wasn't enough classes - but I wasn't giving up choir.
    Matriculation proved almost sensual.  Like any good relationship, once the formalities and casual dating is over, you dig deep into a person to try and understand them and build a new "us."  Music and I were no different.  Through talented minds and voices, I loved theory.  I wanted to understand music at its basest levels.  I came to understand much of myself, my romanticism, my goal-driven nature, my desire to compete.  My refusal to settle for anything less than sucess.  Of course, no relationship is complete without a few difficulties.  My lungs collapsed.  Made it hard to sing competitively.  I flirted with computer science before realizing the grass really ISN'T greener.  But through it all, music and I grew stronger.  It never waivered in its belief in me, or its desire to meld my soul with my circumstance.
    Then one day, ironically in a church setting, I was called to use my relationship by dj-ing some dances for my youth group.  I planned ahead, listened to songs, put together a play list, beats, got my cds ready (hey, it was the 90s).  For hours one night a month, I left my love of music and dabbled with her cousin.  It enticed me that I could use technology.  My heart beat a little faster at the idea that I could create musical synergy.  I was infatuated with the realization that I influenced hundreds of people, their movements, their feelings, their futures, by what songs I played and in what order.  Would he dance with her?  Would she leave him for her girlfriends to share a favorite song?  Or maybe he wants to sit this one out because it reminds him of a previous flame.  Examples.
    But time moved on, and I moved to Utah and college.  The ability to jockey remained in Texas, and you know long-distance relationships - they don't work.  Slowly my schoolwork encroached on my time with music and displaced what little unreserved time had been saved for jockeying.  My tastes matured.  The immediate became important as people changed, circumstances changed.  I thought I had moved on, leaving music and its passions for the metered feelings of medical school, but tonight brought it all back.  I love the lights, the sounds, the movements.  But mostly, I love the responsibility and position I have to create something new, even actions and thoughts, and influence people in ways they don't comprehend. 
    That is beauty.  That, is being a DJ.


    Curtis Gibby said...


    Ace of Base's "The Sign" was released in 1993.

    The Fact Nazi

    Veronica said...

    Chico!!! I feel almost bad saying that I've only stopped to your read your blog a few times in the almost 4 years that I've known you, but you write so beautifully! I hope you are enjoying your time in Vietnam, and I miss you!