On Requests

On Requests

I have always taken music requests. In the beginning, I was a ballroom dance DJ, and I had no idea what I was really doing. The more I learned about music, the more interested in different style I became. Collecting music was a bit of a hobby for me back then, not a full time obsession. Back then, if someone had a good album, be it DiSarli, or Sly and the Family Stone, I would rip it on to my computer. I still even have some files from back then. I just know that ‘Track 4- Homer’s Tango Mix- D’Agustino’ means Adios Arrabel. But I digress…

I started taking requests back in the Summer of ’99 because I had no idea what I was doing. I had to ask people all the time to try to figure out what the public wanted. Even when I was a ballroom dance DJ, people loved Desde. I had one song that I knew people would get up and dance to. All I needed was the other one-hundred and seventy-six minutes of music. I’d play something and see if someone got up for it. Then something else. Then I’d really be out of ideas, and I’d start asking the public what it was that they wanted.

After time passed and I learned what could get a majority of people up off their seats, people started coming up to me and telling me they liked the music I played. To this day I still sincerely believe they are just being nice. You see, everyone has some music that they love and most of the rest they could do without. We call this personal taste. The sad thing about personal taste is that by definition it is bad. The realization of this is what finally made my journey as a DJ complete. My personal taste sucks. Because I know that most people don’t want to dance to the same stuff that I do, I reach out to them, to see what I can do to make their dance better.

The number one request I get is a strange one. “Nothing bad.” It’s difficult to fill those shoes. How can I play ‘nothing bad?’ You are bound to hate something I put on. Some people are turned off by the repetitive beat of Gotan Project, but love the repetitive beat in Canaro. Talk about a loosing prospect! I’m sure if all I played was my Blue-eyed soul, even I’d get sick of it! However, if you can’t please all of the people all of the time, might as well aim for pleasing all of the people some of the time.

I know in my set there will be one Tanda you don’t like. I’m okay with that. If you want to like all of the music all of the time, you can DJ in my place. I really don’t mind at all. I enjoy the occasional night off. You too can weather the slings and arrows for a spell. I’ve seen some very thick skinned people break down under the treatment of a fair-weather crowd. I’ve seen some grown men cry. If you don’t like the way I do things, please do it better. I will be right there taking notes.

That said, up in paragraph 3 I mentioned people tell me that they like my music. They also tell me why. I can let you in on the secret too, free of charge. They say, “thank you for those wonderful Pugeliesse’s, and it’s okay that you played that Melingo, we got a chance to rest.” The secret is that outside of a few crazy individuals no one has to dance all the time. Rick once told me that the best dancing comes if you sit and wait out the sets that don’t do it for you. If he and I can agree. Well, Peace in the Middle East might still be possible. So when you DJ, shock yourself sometime. If all you put in is Narcotango and Hugo Diaz, throw in some Valses by Biagi (my favorite) and see if that doesn’t shake up the dance floor a bit.

Your dance partners might thank you for it.