Quarter Life Crisis

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Indie Ballermann

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My friend Michi and his friend Kilian have been DJing town for a while. First in a pub and then for proper dancing nights once a month. Thanks to their impeccable taste in music those have been very enjoyable nights. As for those club nights – and other indie club nights we’ve been to – there’s usually the problem that an audience exist but that it isn’t huge and there may be differences in taste as well as a superficial knowledge of the music that exists. I don’t blame people for that, but what I do blame them for is that they just refuse to dance to anything they haven’t heard before.

So to keep people dancing you’ll have to go for the lowest common denominator and restrict yourself to playing the well-known singles of well-known bands. And while those can be great songs, it means you lose out on the even better ones and that the songs you hear at different indie nights are pretty much the same. Michi coined the phrase Indie Ballermann for that, which makes me chuckle every single time it crosses my mind.

In that expression, Ballermann refers to some well-known club on Majorca. Not that I’ve been to Majorca and have any personal experience on it – hey, hearsay is good enough to fuel stereotypes! –, but the idea is that going there for your holidays and to that club is about the lowest-brow thing you can do for your holidays. And accordingly the music will be the most common, dull, popular, trashy stuff you can imagine. And once you’re there, you can imagine what Indie Ballermann is. And you’ll just have to marvel the self-denigrating irony going with it all. Uh, I’m chuckling again…

While Michi was the first who mentioned that expression to me, a little Google search suggests that the term has been used before – with 17000 ‘virtual’ results but just 19 ‘real’ ones.

And as Kilian wasn’t here this week, I got the opportunity to step in for him and play music yesterday night. Now that was great. I really like DJing, but didn’t really have the opportunity to do it in the public since I left Warwick and their great Offbeat indie society, which arguably has very knowledgeable punters and doesn’t require that much Indie Ballermann DJing.

The USB drive connected to two USB ports using the special cable

So I prepared for the great night by removing some of my records and CDs from their nice alphabetical order to take them with me. Of course this ended up being a bit over-enthusiastic as a quick computation of the number of songs I’d get to play versus the number of records and CDs gave. Thus many of those discs made it back home without being used, but it’s good to leave yourself some choices to make during the night rather than pre-determining everything – or anything. [Bonus points for recognising more than one record on the photo above!]

Once that was done, we got an late and somewhat rough start. Michi had to attend a meeting which was supposed to be over well before nine but lasted until well after ten, so we arrived at the club at the last minute. Not that this mattered too much as nobody seems to be going out before midnight anyway. But once we arrived there we still had to set up everything and make fun discoveries like that there was only one CD player. We got another one eventually but that one was a really crappy one.

Somehow CD players for DJing tend to differ a little from the ones for home use. Which is a shame because – unlike record players for DJing – those little details wouldn’t hurt for home use CD players either. Usually you’ll hope to get things like reasonably quick skipping and easy-to-use cueing buttons. Another crucial thing is a counter that has a time-left mode and doesn’t reset itself to the forward counting mode when you switch CDs. Some CD players I saw in DJ equipment also had eject buttons that didn’t work while the CD was still playing – a good way to avoid embarrassing yourself accidentally.

That second CD player had about none of the features which can be useful for DJing… no time-left display, horrible skip buttons and – to top things off – a pause button that could only be unpaused by pressing the little pause button itself but not by pressing the play button. Amazingly, that machine only made us embarrass ourselves once – luckily before more than a handful of people had arrived. But it was a bit scary and encouraged the use of vinyl after playing a CD in the good player.

And while I love my LPs, I still think they just aren’t that great for DJing if you’re not into that whole business of scratching and otherwise manipulating the songs while they’re playing. While record players are great for cueing up a track exactly to the point you want, the whole handling just isn’t very convenient when compared to a CD with decent usability. And not that such subtleties matter in a club environment, but I’m pretty sure that a halfway decent CD player will sound better than one of those Technics turntables as well.

So the night came, was, and went. And we played many songs and a fair share of Indie Ballermann in the middle which got people dancing. That was great. And a bit exhausting even, as both of us ended up standing there almost all the time. Instead of just splitting the time up we somehow ended up doing most of the stuff together, discussing the options what to play next as things come along. And as even like-minded people have different perspectives on things, this probably changed things for better.

We also had some active members of the audience who kept sending requests. The problem there of course is that there are request and requests. If they’re asking for stuff you considered playing anyway, that’s great and you’ll gladly make sure to play them. If, however, requests are for things you don’t know or actively dislike, you’ll just go ‘grrrrr’ and ignore them. Luckily, most requests were of the former type, making it our pleasure to fulfill them.


February 25, 2006, 15:35

Tagged as music.

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