This is a Test: Spin Doctor
Hitting the decks in a new hands-on DJ course.
It’s thumping at after-hoursÂ spot Rise on a Monday night, and Iâ€™m behind the turntables. Tapping my fingers to keep time, I tentatively mix two tracks, and produce a few satisfying â€świka-wikaâ€ť sounds by dragging my hand across the equipment.
Iâ€™m here tonight because as a music aficionado, Iâ€™ve found myself inspired by celebrity DJs like Deadmau5 and Samantha Ronson. These days, anyone with an iTunes library, the right software, and a little practice can put together great remixes. So why not me?
With that in mind, I signed up for the Boston Center for Adult Educationâ€™s new â€śScratch, Mix, and Fade: Intro to Club DJ Essentialsâ€ť class. And here I am on the wheels of steel, learning what really happens in the booth.
Our instructors, veteran DJ and writer Paul Dailey (who helped found Bostonâ€™s Mix Academy) and Mike Foye, a.k.a. DJ MiFo, school us in basic skills and song structure before letting us loose on the pro equipment. We learn that when a DJ has her headphones on, sheâ€™s cuing up the next jam and planning how sheâ€™ll blend it seamlessly into the mix (which is why she may not respond to your repeated requests for â€śLove Shackâ€ť).
Dailey and Foye also teach us about the concept of beats per minute (BPM), and why itâ€™s important to the playorder â€” youâ€™d probably clear the dance floor if you dropped a reggae track (about 80 BPM) right after a frenetic drum and bass tune (about 180 BPM).
Technical aspects aside, Dailey says reading the crowd is critical. â€śThe biggest part is picking the right songs at the right time,â€ť he says. At the end of your set, Foye adds, â€śeveryone should be sweaty, wondering what the heck happened.â€ť
After my fledgling DJing attempts at Rise, itâ€™s me whoâ€™s sweaty, wondering if Iâ€™ll ever assume my stage name â€” DJ Tanner â€” and spin â€śShoopâ€ť for a full house. Mastering more advanced skills like cross-fading and beat juggling could take years. For now, I think Iâ€™ll stick to planning party playlists.
Daileyâ€™s next DJ course at the BCAE is scheduled to begin april 3; 617-267-4430, bcae.org.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/01/this-is-a-test-spin-doctor/