Every Kitchen Needs A Mixer
About a decade ago, in what I consider the halcyon days of the dance scene, I had a good friend in London who was a professional chef at one of London’s more exclusive restaurants, as well as being a part-time DJ and full-on clubber. One late night – or early morning – he suggested hosting a TV show along the lines of the “perfect mix,” whereby he would cook food as he cooked up some beats, switching from the oven to the turntables as the rhythm of the show demanded. I can still remember his suggested patter, something along the lines of how, “We’re just going to mix in some batter over here, some Sasha over there, chop these onions, chop up these beats, add some seasonings to the pot, some effects to the decks…”
The idea, of course, never got off the ground, not because it wasn’t a winner, but because there were other things going on in all our lives. But this New Year’s Eve, Posie and I finally got around to hosting a dance party at our house as we’d intended to do ever since moving in back in September of ’07. And when it came time to bring the turntables and mixer down from my office for the occasion, it dawned on us (sixteen months in to our new residence), that our kitchen island was the perfect DJ set-up. As someone who’s seen their records skip and jump in many a high-end nightclub, who’s suffered for access to their boxes of records, who’s struggled for sufficient light, and lacked for monitors, I know of what I’m talking, and there’s not much more you can ask for than a concrete island big enough for turntables, mixers and records, all at spinning height, with a built-in shelf above to prevent people from jogging your records and on which to position a monitor. And with close access to the fridge as a bonus.
In fact, the set-up is so ideal we’ve decided to leave the turntables in the kitchen for the time being. It’s not like they see enough action up in my office. Our New Year’s Resolution: play more viny!
Some highlights from New Year’s Eve:
1) My first ever elementary age DJ set for the little kids who wouldn’t go to bed: “Whip It,” “Surfin’ Bird,” “I Like To Move It” and “Cool Jerk.” Great songs all, and once they were up and dancing, so were the parents, after which there was no turning back.
2) The woman I’d never met before who came up to me in my own house and said, “Do you have any Madonna?” In part because I had a sign prominently displayed that read “The DJ is not a jukebox: thank you!” and in part because requesting Madonna is a 20-year old cliché, I honestly and truly thought she was joking. When I told her as much, I think I offended her. Oh well. The offense wasn’t half as great as waking up the next day to find that someone had left behind a fox stole in our house. Clearly not someone who knows us very well.
3) All those great “northern soul” singles I bought in a job lot back in 1981-82, which traveled across the ocean with me, and which I now know so much more about given that I’m that much older and live in the land in which they were made. Praise be to Chuck Jackson, The Cookies, Jimmy Castor, Maxine Brown, Junior Walker, Candi Staton and more – and the enduring qualities of the 7” single.
4) My favorite record of 2008 – “Girl, You Need a Change of Mind” by Eddie Kendricks from 1972. I’d never really noticed known this soul anthem until the past year, working on my book and the chapter about the disco scene, on which it was a major influence. That may be inexcusable, but I’ve been making up for it big time: I believe I must have played the track, all eight minutes, at considerable volume, some 500 times or more this year, and never tired of it. People enquired of it at the party, too. A stone classic and no mistake.
5) “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” for George Bush at two minutes to twelve.
6) “Change Is Gonna Come” by Otis Redding instead of “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight. (And people readily slow dancing rather than do the usual corny hokey-pokey.)
7) Following Otis Redding with Cocoa Tee’s “Barack Obama,” lining up Deep Dish’s remake of “Flashdance” to get the party properly going… and the entire system blowing at 12:10am.
8) Spending the next 30 minutes of the New Year trying to figure out, in a house full of people either urging us to get on with the dance music or otherwise trying to say goodbye because they had kids to take home, what had gone wrong with the system and how to repair it, a process that included screwdrivers, flashlights, and eventually, the hauling downstairs of additional – and better – amplifier and speakers. (Fortunately, there was no lasting damage; we had merely over-heated the system. The music started back up at 12:45am, and next time we’ll know better how to rig the sound.)
9) Soulwax’s remix of MGMT’s “Kids.” “Happy House” by the Juan MacLean. The CSS vs Tom Tom Club “Let’s Make Love” mash-up. “Beat Bang” by Machines Don’t Care. And all the other great recent dance songs I didn’t get time to play.
10) Guests – most of them parents – hanging out dancing until 2:30am.
11) Hanging out with sleepover guests until 4:00am.
12) Noel getting up before we went to bed! Happy New Year!