Friday, October 07, 2011
Whenever people talk about common recurring nightmares, there's usually one stereotypical dream that always gets mentioned, right? You're back in school, there's a horrible exam, and you havent studied. I don't think I've ever suffered one of those dreams... but this past week, I pretty much lived it.
Regular readers probably know that I moonlight on the weekends as a DJ. Recent readers might even know that I've been without a gig for the past few months. That's what led me to an online job listing a few weeks ago that made me raise an eyebrow.
"CLUB AWESOME, the ultimate 70s and 80s dance club, is opening soon in AWESOMETOWN. Calling all: Dancers, DJs, MCs, Hula Hoopers, Roller Skaters, Models, Celebrity Impersonators, etc."
It's not actually called Club Awesome and it's not in Awesometown, but since I'm still waiting to hear if I got the job AND since they didn't bother advertising in OUR paper, I'm leaving the locale a mystery for now. But I can tell you that it's a new club opening up in a casino that's well over an hour's drive from here.
I blew the ad off at first. No gig is worth that drive -- or is it? A club devoted exclusively to the 70's & 80's? With hula hoops and roller skates? Sure, it's a ridiculously long commute for a gig, but my basement is chock full of musty disco records just waiting for a second lease on life.
So I applied. It wouldn't be something I could commit to doing every weekend, but if they were looking to hire a rotating staff of DJ's, I'd be happy to join the mix. Last Monday, I got the call.
"Mr. Brown? This is so-and-so from Human Resources at Club Awesome. We'd like to schedule your audition. Are you available tomorrow?"
I've never had to "audition" for a DJ gig in my life. I wouldn't even know how, and that's not me trying to sound cocky. DJ's are normally judged by how they work the dancefloor over the course of an entire night. What could I prove in an afternoon? What would the "audition" consist of? What equipment did I need to bring? What should I plan for?
"No worries," said the HR rep. "I'll e-mail you the information."
Here is, verbatim, the contents of that e-mail:
"The club will be 70’s and 80’s based, so if you can perform to the era, it would be best. We’re looking for candidates that are upbeat and really get into the character of the 70’s and 80’s. Your audition is your time to show us all your talents and enthusiasm and ability to get the crowd “pumped up”, and time to prove yourself as a Club Awesome member."
This answered NOTHING and was the same stock response they were likely giving prospective hula hoopers. Did they want a talented DJ with knowledge and mixing ability? Or did they want Fonzie to come out and go "Aaaayyyyyyyy?" Since they reworked their audition time to match my schedule, I guess I was gonna find out.
Last Thursday, I got off work and made a bee line straight for Awesometown. My instructions were to go to the employee entrance, which, after circling the casino, did not appear to exist -- so I sauntered through the main door.
Here's a handy tip: When one enters the main door of a casino, it's best NOT to bring along two suspicious duffel bags of DJ equipment. The security guards at the gate all but went Terror Alert Red on me.
"Hi! I'm here to audition for the--"
"I'm hoping you can help me find the em--"
Finally, I learned that the employee entrance was hiding on the west end of the building. By the time I hiked around the perimeter of the building carrying umpteen pounds of DJ gear, I arrived at the correct door a slimy, sweaty muckpile.
"We're expecting you," said the kid who met me. "Right through here," he motioned.
I walked into a large and mostly empty space. In front of me stood a card table. In front of THAT, a large black curtain. It quickly dawned on me that I was on a stage. A BIG stage.
Two guys came out and helped me set up my gear in record time. "Are you ready?" one said to me.
"Well, yeah, but I don't really know what I'm..."
"GO!" he yelled. Before I could even laugh, the curtains pulled back, revealing an empty theatre except for the front row, where sat a line of Simon Cowell wannabes with crossed arms and stern faces.
That's when one of them said, and I quote: "Wow us."
You had GOT to be kidding. I had no clue what I was supposed to do, how long I was supposed to do it for, or who any of these people staring at me were. I assessed the situation and did the only thing I knew how:
I pressed play.
Suddenly music was booming and I was in my element. One of the guys jumped onstage. Was he going to yell at me? Would I get pulled offstage with a giant hook? I looked up and realized the guy was filming me. Between the nerves, the lights, and the dude with the camera, there was no stopping me from being the sweatiest, ugliest guy alive.
As I slid into the second song - a nifty remix of "Afternoon Delight" I'd picked up somewhere - Camera Guy starts yelling, "Yeah! That's the stuff!" I had at least one fan. I kept going, bouncing in and out of songs as fast as I could, sweating so bad I was afraid of shorting out the equipment. After 20 minutes, Video Guy taps me. "We've seen enough."
I packed up my gear not knowing if I'd just been hired or fired or what. Afterwards, they invited me down for a chat. They said they liked my stuff and the energy that I brought, but they had questions. "Fire away," I said.
"Why do you want this job?"
"What's your background?"
"What's your going rate?"
"Do you have chest hair?"
My response was less a word than a mixture of nervous laughter and fear. I'm guessing it sounded like "S'Whaahahahaha?"
"Serious question. Do you have chest hair?"
"Is this an essential job function of your DJ position?" I asked.
"Well, we'd like you to dress in costume. Do you have a problem with that?"
I'm a chubby guy. I've got man-cleavage. Heck YES I have a problem with that.
After much more nervous laughter and some handshakes, I got out of there and laughed almost all the way home. I'm hoping if they DO hire me, I could opt for more of an 80's keep-your-chest-hair-to-yourself costume. Stick a Devo hat on my head and a "Frankie Say Relax" t-shirt and let some other hairy dude rock the open-shirted disco look. As of press time, I have no clue if I got the gig or not. I'm frankly not even sure if I want it. One thing's for certain, though: Once this place opens, a road trip to Club Awesome will be mandatory.