HOW TO KILL A DJ CHAPTER 6
SATURDAY OCTOBER 31ST
WORD OF THE DAY
- Something deluding or misleading.
- Also called a friar’s lantern, will-o-the-wisp. A flitting phosphorescent light seen at night, chiefly over marshy ground, and believed to be due to spontaneous combustion of decomposed organic matter.
SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY
- (impact) a. hit b. blow 2. (indentation) a dent 3 (strike) a shot 4 (clash) conflict.
Low blows and conflicts aside, I can still burn it up.
Today is the day of the Ibiza Rocks House at Pikes Hotel VAMP Halloween party. Much like Atzaro Opening, Space and Amante Closings it is one of the most attended and anticipated parties of the year and a keystone in the winter residents’ social diary. It is also line-up catnip to every island dj worth their schmooze skills. I secured my place on the line up in June when I signed for my contract as a resident at Pikes Hotel, so am as excited as a dog locked in a butcher’s shop to play. This year’s line up is island star heavy so to see my name on the flyer feels like an Ibiza resident rubber stamp.
In another way it’s a chance to exorcise a ghost that has been hanging around from the last time I played there. Rewind to the last IBIZA ROCKS HOUSE PARTY when I played alongside Junior Sanchez in the main room. The party was rammed and Junior finished his set with a 14 minute re-edit of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Love Light In Flight’ flourish.
Everything was going smoothly until a random, toxic exchange burst my boogie bubble.
I hadn’t been playing for long when a kooky, androgynous chica breezed then blundered into the booth, retinas blazing, to tell me a joke. Her boyfriend had been playing regularly at the daytime pool parties over the summer and since she is cute, impish and normally quite sweet (and is also a good friend to the Pikes management), I left her to make herself comfortable in the booth behind me whilst I dug in. Ignoring my DJ at work, ‘headphones on, head down’ stance, she lifted my cans…
Me: (brusquely) “is something wrong? do you need me for something?”
Her: (in heavily broken spanglish) “No.” she said… “I have a joke to tell to you” She was full of it, just like a naughty kid at the back of the schoolbus.
‘OK, right’ I say but think ‘Are you kidding me?’ Breaches of dj booth etiquette irritate me at the best of times and are never welcomed when it’s for no good reason, no matter who does it.
Her: sooooooo …
Me: “alright, shoot, I say” … whilst putting my headphones back on to block her out and cue in the next track. She tugs my headphones off again to shout in my ear over the sound from the monitor …
Her: “Why don’t n*ggers like the sound of chainsaws? …” she asked laughing.
I’m sorry. This is vintage bullshit. Who the hell is she, really?
I stared at her in disbelief as my tune played on but only I felt the solar plexus punch and the rage inside. She couldn’t have been serious, someone had to have taken advantage of her piss-poor understanding of english and dared her to tell me this just to get a reaction. But is she that eager to please she’d risk getting a public bitchslap? Maybe it was a ghetto n*gga joke reclaiming the word and told out of context and badly by a wannabe white homie. For whatever reason this has stomped all over my happy buzz like a chainsmoker with a fag end. I turned to block her and her shit sense of humour out of my space but she stayed, oblivious, waiting for me to respond.
She pulled at my sleeve again, (pupils now occupying the whole iris).
“It’s a joke. I ask then you’ve got to answer me” she said exasperated “you know what is a joke, right?’
In case I hadn’t heard it fully the first time, she shouted louder over the music
“… why don’t n*ggers like the sound of chainsaws?” she hopped from foot to foot like Rumpelstiltskin then unable to contain herself any longer snorted triumphantly “because it sounds, run run run n*gger run, run run run n*gger run”
My mind ran riot. What would Idris Elba do? What would Craig David do? What would De La Soul do? What would Bobbi and Steve do? What would Carl Cox do? What would Seth Troxler do? What would Smokin Jo or Skin do? What would Carl Craig do? What would Kenny Larkin, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, MK, Honey Dijon, 4Hero, Roni Size, Goldie, Norman Jay MBE, Trevor Nelson, Josey Rebelle or what would any DJ of colour do if told an off-colour, off-key, blatantly racist and downright unfunny joke in the dj booth, whilst they are working? Would they do something? Or nothing? The room was heaving. In front of the decks people were enjoying the party. What would THEY think if they knew what I’d just been told whilst I made like Rylan Clarke and just kept smiling?
My first instinct was to give her a Dick Emery wallop, blind-siding her with my handbag – but it wasn’t a good time and why make more of this than needs be? Instead I firmly and impolitely nudged her behind me, saying ‘you know what, that’s a really shit joke, do you mind leaving the booth now? I’m trying to work here”. Her mission (or dare) was accomplished and she skipped out of the booth unscathed and triumphant.
I checked the date on my watch. We hadn’t time-travelled, hurtling with a screech back to the 1950s in a clapped out DeLorean. This is still Ibiza Rocks Hotel at Pikes – possibly the coolest hang out for ex-pats and people of colour on the island and one of the more overtly diverse employers on the island. Still, #thisjusthappened.
The music played on. We play into extra time, so Sunny brought his vinyl collection out of the boudoir and I played some crackly, scratched 70s disco hits to the stragglers. Sunny lip synched like a boss from his perch on the speaker stack. And when the last punters left, I joined the select group in a vacant room just off the Plaza Mayor to have one for the road with the direction and the remaining djs.
Of course stupidumb was there. Spirits were high so I decided not to mention The Joke to the crew who she was fooling around with. I felt like I had betrayed myself and my race. My contract wasn’t quite over and I still had work to do so I kept my mouth shut. I had sold out a guiding principle for the dollar somehow. People might say I was over-reacting – no kittens or fairies had died – even if that’s how it felt. The struggle was and is real. DJ’ing and club culture / life still has the capacity to hit me like a bullet to the temple when I least expect it.
I mentioned it to a few friends the next day over a Pikes Sunday roast. A couple were outraged and said I should have stopped the music, let the spurs clink and tumbleweed roll on the dance floor before handing her the microphone then turning the volume up to 11 just so that everyone could hear her tell the fabulous n*gger joke. Others said I should have stopped the music and dj diva stropped off. No one suggested fronting her with it and to be honest no one really cared that much. They say ‘To err is human and to forgive is divine’ so call me Jesus and let’s move on. Forgetting is a bit hard though. Ask any elephant worth his poached ivory tusks.
As for stupidumb – she and her boyfriend were given a Pikes residency for the Winter 2015 and Summer 2016. As for me – I was courteous but found it hard to be friendly with her after that night. IMHO Friends like her should always feel the door hit them where the dog should have bit them. When is a racist joke not a joke eh? I suppose you could ask Cary Sharp, the husband of Teresa Sharp, Lahoma, Oklahoma’s Mayor.
Back to today and my happy, positive place – it’s Halloween and I am closing the Chez Fez room at the party of the year and that is a great result. Hashtag #blessings. Hashtag #GRATITUDE. Hashtag #LIFEISSWEET.
After googling costume ideas around age and halloween my search revealed this picture of Donatella Versace.
It scared me more than the childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fashion and the media have everything to do with the reasons why our society profits from our own (men, women and childrens’) self doubt, making us strive always for a unreachable, ridiculous concept of beauty and being just to SPEND MORE MONEY and BUY MORE THINGS that we don’t even need. That she has fallen prey to the monster that she in some way has helped create makes me feel very sad. I will never understand why people go under the knife for vanity’s sake just to end up with faces like candles melting in the sun. And how anyone can do that to their ear lobes to hold their drooping features in place is beyond me. No. Girl power, positivity, strength, natural beauty inside and out and fierceness are all that get my vote. The X-Men’s Storm shall be my muse.
And if it’s good enough for Beyoncé (this year) then it’s good enough for me.
My costume consisted of LED striplights, a black rubber catsuit and a homemade X-Men belt. I spent the best part of the day faffing and fine tuning, mani-pedi-ing, rubber shining my catsuit and tinting my wig. The result? More Halle Berry than Marvel Original. And Madonna would have approved of my choice to go cape-less.
It’s daft but even at Halloween caring about how I look becomes a feminist issue. It piques that you can’t just dj when you are female in this industry. How you look very much determines how (and whether) you work, play or rest (much like an actor). This concept never applies to men. Male dj’s can be XXL, rough, a stress-free over fifty, balding, unkempt and badly dressed and still get the high paying gigs. Men can walk into a club wearing crap jeans and a dirty, travel worn t shirt and no one says a word.Yet everyone will say something about how the women looked even if they’re technically the best person on the line up. It’s an inextricable part of the deal that women (in practically any discipline you care to mention) spend a disproportionate amount of their professional lives worrying about their look and presentation. We often find ourselves jumping through sartorial hoops that men don’t even have to consider.
I eased myself into my rubber catsuit with the help of lots of baby powder and my long arms. Then opened the zips slightly at the neck and crotch to let the heat out, ventilate and enable unimpeded movement. The appliance of wardrobe science. Rekordbox playlists exported to a spanking new USB stick? Check! I was ready to whip up a storm – and a few tornadoes – looking like this:
Given that I have put on a few pounds since I last wore it, I’m amazed that I can move in it at all, let alone drive. I have no idea how Heidi Klum survived the night in her Jessica Rabbit head to toe latex reinvention. Now that’s what I call serious Halloween skills and total dedication to the party at hand.
Rules of Halloween.
- Always ask your friends for full costume updates and snapchats before you leave. Or resign yourself to walking round in circles looking for friends that you are standing next to but don’t recognise. Especially at Pikes. Here the costumes are spectactular: everyone has made a real effort and everyone Is asking ‘have you seen? I can’t find?’
It was steaming like a Moroccan souk in Chez Fez. The aircon was struggling to keep up with the heat of a slightly damp crowd and the collective, core reactor intensity body temperature. The rain and blocked toilets didn’t help either as people instinctively crammed into Chez Fez, the first attractive and available dry space that was closest to Plaza Mayor. As Jaime Fiorito and Alfredo were finishing off in Chez Fez, I watched the blood drain from Alfredo’s face as he fainted briefly behind the decks. I grabbed one arm, Jaime grabbed the other, I grabbed a chair and some water and he sat and got his head together. Alfredo came around pretty quickly: but overcome with the heat he headed straight home. It had been a long evening already and 4.30 is a good enough time to call it a night for anyone. I, however, was just getting started.
My idea of the LEDS without a power pack was maybe not so smart. It only worked when I was standing near enough to plug myself in to a power point which is ok when I am dj”ing of course but not when I am just walking around. Nobody really GOT that bit when it wasn’t lit up. And who wants magnesium burning brightness on a dark, disco dancefloor. Oof. That’s a wardrobe malfunction right there. I open my set wearing them but once I see the cockroach effect they create on the dance floor, my lovely LEDs are hidden in my handbag for the rest of the party. Go Storm! And well done me.
There are characters in abundance. Leena IS Edward Scissorhands – wig, stripey suit, scissors and hedge clippers included. I would recognise Leena in the dark though – one Leena Sharma, there’s only one Leena Sharma. We all loved Mark Broadbent and Big L’s fully tattooed Latino gangsters and I totally didn’t clock that the clown standing next to me was Sarah Broadbent. Exemplary work all round.
I dimmed the white lights, leaving only the sexy, womb-like reds then opened with Rhythim is Rhythim ‘Strings Of Life’
I dug my spurs in their sides with Martijn Ten Velden’s galloping remix of Guitarra G
By the time it hit the guitar solo there were cheers and smiles and whatever the party favours were were suddenly and simultaneously kicking in, in time to the music. Mark and Sarah Broadbent both passed by again to see what the commotion in Chez Fez was. Then there was a guy who had had one too many and kept sliding down the wall and leaning on the light switches throwing inopportune spotlights on the vampires and zombies around the room.. It’s an undesired flash effect, that didn’t go down too well and the blessing and the curse of partying in what was once an old finca. I had to keep reaching over to switch them off. Dickhead. In the end I showed him where the light switch was so he could switch it off himself. I knew he was going to be a tiresome repeat offender.
I shoehorned as much dark, lovely tech house and techno from the likes of Alan Fitzpatrick, Copy Paste Soul, Hot Since 82 as I could into Mika’s 45 minute warning. When the big lights came on (for the last time) people were braying for one more tune. I played the room with Hot Since 82 and gave it up a little more with Michel Cleis & Klement Bonelli’s ‘Marvinello’.
In true dj fashion, I tried to squeeze in another but Steve and Piero had started to clean up around my bravers and the closed, covered bar at the back of the room was a glaring symbol of festive finality. Final check of the CDJs to make sure that I have ejected and put both USBs in my handbag then home, right? Wrong.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 1ST
Even though I have no stamina for the Halloween Afterhours at Boutique Hostal Salinas, I finish my morning in a low key affair in Room 18. Music was supplied by someone’s ipod and there were no big public displays of sex, orgies, drugs or rock and roll. Or at least not that I could see. Jerome Ferriere took a ton of pictures of me with Dawn Hindle (MD of Ibiza Rocks) and Jillian Canney (organiser of the VAMP party) He says, in passing, that I am not a looker at all (thanks) but gets excited about taking lots of pictures of my arse. He is not the first to do this. He won’t be the last. I know I have a great arse. Even my mum says so and we all know that our mums know best.
It wound down quickly, so I staggered off into the car park in the hazy heat and daylight. Over an hour long wait with the ghoulish casualties at the front of an ever growing queue meant eventually sharing a people carrier home. I celebrated my homecoming by switching off everything electronic in my flat apart from my phone and dreaming the day away in a darkened, quiet bedroom.
One of my favourite ways to relax is to create in the kitchen. I’m not a fancy cook – I don’t do sixteen courses, silver service meals or Master Chef standard gourmet finishes but I do make delicious meals, lush salads and a mean dessert or two. I can cook up a storm in anyone’s kitchen and enough people can prove it. So today’s post-Halloween / pre-Thanksgiving mission is a Pumpkin and Chickpea curry that my friend Charlie recently posted on her Facebook page.
I ready, steady, cooked, armed with a soggy recipe page and accompanied by the tech house mix I’d posted on my Mixcloud page to promote the Housewife party that I was booked to play in London in two weeks’ time.
With a few ‘season to taste’ alterations, the BBC GoodFood recipe was a licked plate success. Happy and with a full belly, I swanned into the office with all the intention of writing another Booker Prize winning chapter. The pull of the pillows was stronger and I slipped under the duvet for a cheeky nap which turned into a flatline until 4am. I only woke up to switch all the lights and computers off and then go to bed for a proper sleep.
At the end of an exhausting and emotionally draining week there’s a super happy ending and I’m glad about that. So cheerio to Sunday 1st of November 2015, your weekend has restored my trust and faith in people and made me excited for more of the island’s winter parties. Hurrah and hello November 1st: the Ibiza saints, souls and sinners have lived to party another day.