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December 22, 2006

wash your hair, roady

Posted by dogpossum on December 22, 2006 5:54 PM in the category djing

DJing at the Spiegeltent has ruined me for the shitty sound system at CBD.

To begin my evening (I did a set there... um... a week ago yesterday?), the little sound guy (who can never ever be found when you do actually need him, and if you can find him, can't do anything without a ladder in the middle of the (crowded) dance floor) told me off for blowing the phono channels on the piece of shit sound desk in the main room. I interrupted mid-rant with "sorry, man, I haven't DJed here in about 8 weeks, and I always use the line out. Because that's the rule" and pointed out that I was actually using the line out at that very moment. He tut tutted a bit and I kind of did the glib hail-fellow-well-met bullshit where it sounds like I actually really care what he thinks.

I would care, if it weren't for the fact that that sound system is set up for the doof doods on the weekend, always frighteningly heavy on the bass, so all our music sounds ridiculous.

I wanted to raise the issue of how we're not allowed to change the settings to suit dancers who can actually a) find the beat without having it hammered into their bones with the force of a thousand decibels, and b) actually listen to - and dance to - the whole range of instruments present in a recording. I also wanted to have a little chat with him about how it's not actually useful to have a bunch of spotlights shining into the eyes of the DJ when your DJ is actually more interested in working the crowd than preening for the crowd. I did think about suggesting a more sensible set up for the desk than one where you have to physically lift the console thingy out of the wooden frame to insert your RCA cables, feeling all the hairs on your arms stand up in response to the stray volts floating around in there. I considered raising the issue of booth monitors and using whole, complete cables that worked and weren't jerry-rigged into the system. And I had one, final thought about pointing out to him the fact that we were actually holding that conversation without shouting, suggesting that perhaps we swing DJs (or least I) don't really pound the volume too greatly.

But I didn't.

I simply took pleasure in sneering (silently) at his ill-fitting black tshirt and daggy-bum (in a pre-2005 mode) jeans.

And then I dropped way too many lo-fi tracks on a crowd who could hear everything I couldn't at the DJ console, and consequently could only hear a sort of muddy slurry in the mids. I took a series of walks around the room to see how things sounded, and decided nothing could be done. So I had to pump it nu skewl at regular intervals.

In retrospect, it's breaking my heart.
I used exactly the same type (and age) desk at the speegs as I do at CBD, but it all works nicely and is well cared for there. I could play what I liked and it sounded great. There's no lifting consoles out of the frame and then trying to reinsert them without pinching wires at the speegs. There's (one of many available) sound dood(s) who'll cheerfully help me set up and offered useful advice (I learnt more DJing there than in any other session anywhere with anyone else), one who smiled, reciprocated cheerfully when I introduced myself and extended my hand for a shake (mateship in DJing - he is the G-O) and who was, generally, so sweet I thought about buying him a beer for his efforts (but didn't because they were $10 a pop and I was only paid $40 for 2 hours work).

But CBD is a scarily skanky mid-80s type nightclub. The sort of place you went to when you were 16 because you could get in without an ID. The sort of place where you could score any type of drug you liked, provided it was cut with... well, you really didn't want to know. The place where young women met men in their 40s who had interesting opportunities in the film industry available for lovely young ladies like yourself.

I shouldn't bitch, really - it's the longest running swing dance venue in our town. It has 3 floors which we've used for a range of events. And while the management aren't nice at all, they do let us continue to dance there. Though drinking there is a challenging proposition - $5 for a bottle of Gatorade? I don't think so.

I know I need to learn more about levels and things (and to get a decent sound card), but still. This is a blog, and if there's one thing a blog is for, it's misinformed, self-righteous rants. I mean, the tag is always implied, right?

But I'd at least appreciate it if the sound dood was civil. And washed his hair more frequently.

Posted by dogpossum on December 22, 2006 5:54 PM in the category djing