DJing, beer, fire and .. rollerskating?

Over the past several weeks I've been busy enjoying the company of friends, drinking beer and playing music at parties. This serves as both an update and the reason for the lack thereof recently. Three events are detailed below.

Late-night entertainment.

DJing at a good, loud party. At least 100 were around at one point or another.

The exquisite and eclectic James Martens asked me to accompany him for an evening of DJing and free beer at an aquaintance's house party; needless to say, it didn't take long to come to a decision.

The evening was both fun and interesting, with well over one hundred people I didn't know wandering throughout the top floor of this nicely-designed, hardwood-floored house. The main room where we set up the equipment ran the entire length of the house, and had a slighly-raised "stage" area, making a perfect spot for the DJ stand.

The method to the music

I started out the evening with some chill uptempo tunes, picked mostly from the NinjaTune collection of artists - 9 Lazy 9, DJ Krush, London Funk Allstars and The Herbaliser to name a few. I wouldn't have minded playing more of the usual Downtempo and Trip-Hop, but this was a party with an upbeat vibe - I wasn't supposed to put everyone to sleep. Plus I had to try to ramp things up for James who would be putting the ass-shaking in dancing, and the dancing on the floor with some serious Deep House shortly afterwards.

The two of us traded off positions behind the stage through the night, giving each other a chance to mingle with the diverse (as I learned) crowd - including accountants, people from Winnipeg, Edmonton, employees of WestJet, school teachers, the recently un-employed and just about everyone in-between.

DJing at a good, loud party. At least 100 were around at one point or another.

Crowd reactions are what I find the most interesting part of live DJing; I think that's part of the reason a lot of people enjoy playing music for others. Some of the best "flash mobs" of dancing formed upon the crowd hearing recent well-known tracks (a la White Stripes' Seven Nation Army ), and old-school favorites (ie. Lenny Kravitz' Are You Gonna Go My Way? ) There's a reason House Of Pain's "Jump Around" was rated song-of-the-year in 1993-94 when released; it's a great moving "get up and party!" kind of track.

Also thrown into the mix was the "Schill"-ized version of The Beegee's Stayin' Alive, played right from the original "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack. That track, scratched up a bit and accompanied by a backbeat from The Turntablist's Super Duck Breaks (one of the all-time DJ favorite scratch records,) is somewhat of a one-track routine I came up with a while ago and play regularly in practice and recorded mixes. It was also liked by the crowd - Well, from what I could tell anyways.

James later took over and effortlessly had a good crowd dancing to some moving Deep House in no time. Having little familiarity with the genre myself, I recognised a number of tracks from previous parties and particularly enjoyed the remake of an old Michael Jackson track he threw down later on in the evening - I don't even remember the name of the original song, but this remake was well-done.

Repeat occurrences?

The hosts of this party had never done this before at their place, but I think they had realised they were in a great space for a good, loud house party and decided to give it a shot. At the end of the night (or around 3:30 AM, when we left at least,) the house was still standing and looked to be in good shape considering the number of people who had come through. It was suggested there may be further future events if the reaction was good; I enjoyed the opportunity to entertain and would do it again, given the opportunity.

Surprise Backyard Party


A fire blazes at a surprise party.

A surprise party which my roommates and myself attended was held for an aquaintance we've known for a while. I don't think she had any suspicions of the party until arriving home to realize her front door was "broken" for some reason, and coming around back to be greeted by a party already in mid-swing.

With the help of my roommates I brought some equipment down for the evening and played a variety of music. I was able to get away with one Beastie Boys tune (by request of one of my roommates,) but was quickly scolded for my poor choice; the lady of the evening was not much of a fan of their stuff. I played the usual Stayin' Alive routine, but messed up due to some needle skippage. I think there's something with the record that's causing the skipping as it used to be much better, but I can't nail the source of the problem. Nobody really cared either, so it didn't matter.

The party moved between the fire in the back yard, and the living room where I had set up the equipment. There was some rain earlier on which dampened the seats outside, but it wasn't enough to put out the fire - nor move people from their comfortable spots around it. A friend of the aforementioned had brought an acoustic guitar, and was playing a good variety of tunes throughout the later part of the evening. Some rather unsuccessful attempts were made in getting people to sing, but the mood was definitely positive and enjoyable overall.

We packed up and left around 2:30 AM and arrived home just as another light shower was beginning.

Jude Matsalla's Critical Mass Departure Party

Exiting in style.

Lloyd's Rollerskating Rink in Calgary.

If you're going to go, might as well do it in style.

Our buddy and (former) co-worker Jude Matsalla left Critical Mass for greener pastures, and had a multi-event party to coincide with his exit. The locations included Ming on 17th, Lloyd's Rollerskating Rink, and the "No-Name Bar" also on 17th.

Most of the photos I got were from rollerskating, so there isn't much commentary on the other stuff we did. The man known as "The Observer" has some good photos and comments on the other goings-on.

Two-hundred 14-year-olds can't be wrong

I felt rather old during our time at Lloyd's. Despite being the youngest of the group at 24, I was still twice as old as a good number of the kids at this place; some people in our group had ten years of age on me, so I imagine my feeling of awkwardness was minimal at best by comparison.

It would appear the old rollerskating traditions are still in effect; the "Snowball" still happens! We left shortly before things got too hot, making tracks for the No-Name Bar.

During the umpteenth roundabout of the skating rink with the lights going strong and the equally-bad music equally as strong, it occurred to me: Hell is a rollerskating rink with bad lighting, bad music and ten thousand 14-year-olds circling in an endless loop; you are stuck doing laps in this rink, unable to move forward or backward. I hope I never end up there permanently, but I'm willing to visit there once a year on Macleod trail in Calgary.

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