Monday, May 21, 2012
To begin with, I'm pretty sure I'm a little bit stupid. Regular readers of my column know that I moonlight on the weekends spinning records at night clubs around town. Take it from me, this is a FANTASTIC hobby. It is NOT, however, a lucrative one. Pretty much every penny I earn doing club gigs is spent on more music and more equipment in order to keep getting more club gigs in order to spend more on music and equipment.
There's only ONE way to make serious bank in the DJ game: Weddings. And, as a general rule, I'm not a fan.
First off, in order to DJ wedding receptions, you need a lot more equipment than a couple CD players and a laptop. You need a full-on PA system with speakers and amps and lights -- and constantly lugging that stuff in and out of venues is a chore. About 15 years ago, I was DJing a wedding and hauling in a rig when I felt a "pop" and suddenly couldn't move my back from its current position. I ended up having to corral a wedding guest I was friends with and having her find all the songs I needed while I sat nearly paralysed in front of the mixer. Good times.
Then there's the whole dealing-with-the-bride-and-groom thing. Yes, it's their special day. Yes, you need to listen to everything they say. BUT, as a general rule, they're totally clueless when it comes to what their family and friends want to dance to. True story: I once DJed a wedding in Chicago where the bride and her family wanted loads of classic rock. The groom and HIS friends, however, only listened to aggro German pre-techno industrial dance music. They wanted me to "work it together." At any given point during that reception, 50% of the crowd thought I was insane. In case you ever wondered if it's possible to smoothly mix Eric Clapton into Einsturzende Neubaten, that'd be a no.
Wedding DJ's make an INSANE amount of money. The professionals who come in with their own rigs and lights and tuxedos can easily make over $1000 in a night. That's serious cash. But the stress of managing the equipment, the schedule, the requests, and the overall happiness of two people and their family and friends? That's when a hobby becomes a full-on second career, and that's exactly what my life DOESN'T need at the moment.
So when most folks come to me looking for a wedding DJ, I usually refer them to some of my friends who do amazing jobs. But when the request comes from one of my friends, it's hard to say no.
I've known Harry Cleaveland for years. Harry used to own Gameology, the MMORPG center in Rock Island. If you don't know what MMORPG means, congratulate yourself because it means you're NOT a giant nerd who wastes large portions of your life playing video games. Harry's
fiancee Kaycee is an absolute sweetheart, and when they asked me to DJ their reception, I couldn't say no.
There's parts of wedding receptions that I really love. Since Harry and a good chunk of his groomsmen were all closet nerds, I couldn't resist announcing the bridal party to the theme from "World of Warcraft." And when it came to dollar dances, where the poor bride and groom are awkwardly trapped on the dancefloor forEVER, I opted instead to make 'em laugh by throwing in "Muskrat Love" and Debbie Gibson's "Lost In Your Eyes" to the usual mix of slow song schlock.
All in all, it was a beautiful night, there was magic in the air, everything went according to plan, and I was proud to help seal the deal between two of the most awesome people I know. There was just one problem:
Once upon a time, Harry and I were both shopping for rings at the same time. His story had a happy ending; my relationship fizzled out like stale soda pop. And while I loved seeing him start the next chapter of his life, I couldn't help but sit in that DJ booth and wonder why MY fairy-tale romance was cancelled mid-season. When we called for single ladies to catch the bouquet, a theatre full of people produced exactly THREE candidates. Is NO ONE single any more?
After the reception, I got to see my other married friends make plans for brunch the next day. Before my last girlfriend, I barely knew what brunch was. Nowadays I miss brunch. I have no problem going to a restaurant by myself, but a fancy brunch solo? Just can't do it, and that sucks. You make enough sacrifices when you revert to bachelorhood -- bacon and sausage and french toast shouldn't be on that list.
Instead, I went home whiny, watched TV mopey, and fell asleep sulky. When I woke up, my first thought was brunch. After the obligatory "I-hate-my-life" meditation, I opted for defiant proactivity, and started calling my friends until I forced one awake long enough to mandate a brunch date. We got to the restaurant with about twenty minutes to spare and I proceeded to brunch like few have brunched before. It was a mean brunch full of purpose and vigor. I had never before thought it was possible to eat a sausage SPITEFULLY, but I made it happen.
And then, because karma runs my life, a magical thing happened. I got sick. Really, really sick. I'll spare the details, but suffice to say most of my evening was spent de-brunching. And while I was spending quality time in the bathroom, I started to realize what an idiot I'd been.
I have it good. I'm whining about my sad little single life while some people literally don't have a pot to... well, to do what I was doing. I've got a great life full of great friends and great fun, and if I can't hang onto a girlfriend, well, that's THEIR misfortune, not mine. I refuse to give up on love or life. Pity parties are part of life, but make sure they're a SMALL part. I might be down but I'm not out.