Walking away from a night of spinning music that leaves you feeling completely empty is a nature sense and experience you will have from time to time. There will be days were you will not connect with the venue, the sound system, and/or most importantly, the folks that showed up for you to entertain. Just take note and deep consideration that emptiness and disconnect is enviable. I cannot explain why it happens, it just does. Even if you walk into the environment thinking it’s going to jump off, only to realize that the excitement never left the ground. What I can say, is that I can only share my insight based on my personal experiences.
I played at many socials and events throughout my DJ career where that one night of spinning just felt like a job, a hired hand for the night with no high level of excitement or thrill. I just know I walked away with the feeling of emptiness because I had control over the room after I spun all the music that I thought would bring up the energy.
I was booked by an event planner to spin a private birthday party at the Bentley Reserve in downtown San Francisco in spring 2003. The Bentley Reserve was formally a bank, with 100 foot ceiling, tall marble Columns, and a 10,000 square foot open event space.
The event was a lavish production, the crew took a full day to load-in the sound equipment, lights, decor, and catering. My call time and sound check was 5:00pm. The event was due to start at 7:00pm.
I arrived a few minutes before my call time and just as I was settling in, local recording Grammy artist Rob Thomas was completing his sound check. The band was rocking out. Rob sounded wonderful. Rob Thomas was a surprise gift to the birthday boy’s guest who was turning 32.
The event planner and production crew designed and constructed an amazing DJ booth with 2 turntables, pioneers CDJ'S, and mixer, and two monitors. The booth was positioned on a platform high above the guest, the stage, and the dance floor. I felt like, the Wiz, in the Land of Oz.
The two hundred guest arrived and I played NuJazz and up-tempo jams to accompany the spirit and energy of the cocktail reception. Rob Thomas was due to entertain the guest at 8:30. He was scheduled for a one hour performance. For whatever reason under the sun, Rob's start time was delayed. The show finally started 30 minutes later and once the band got started, they ran overtime.
My role was to keep the energy high and party going after Rob Thomas. The band completed their set at 11:00pm. I drop my first song and all of the two hundred personal guest filed out the door making a final exodus. I was taken-a sideways. I could not believe what had just happened. The entire venue became empty for the exception of the production crew, catering staff, the Bentley Reserve staff, and the birthday boy and his family.
I was thinking possibly the last Bart train to the Eastbay was leaving and everyone took public transit. I played maybe two or three more songs until the event planner came to me and said, "It’s a wrap". He apologized. I packed up my headphone, records, and CD's. I was paid my agreed compensation for the night, exited the building, jumped in a cab, and I was home sitting on my couch eating a bowl of cornflakes by 12am midnight.
Even though I was ready to rock and play music all night, the guest were not. Although the birthday party at the Bentley was one of the most elaborate gigs I have played, I walked away with the sense of emptiness and disconnect. It happens and when it does I have to remind myself over and over that every gig, even the one that appears to be one of the finest of them all has left me with a lack luster emotional state and sense of purpose.
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