Friday, 7 April 2017
What's that you're playing?
Last night I had a surprise, one-off, secret, additional, extra, final, last-ever gig in London. A charmless corporate affair, the fee for which I simply couldn't turn down, wherein the music provided was never going to be anything more than an inconspicuous soundtrack to noisy conversation, this gig nonetheless demonstrated that making a living as a professional player of the record players could be even less enjoyable than teaching.
The venue was a new office development on a gorgeous square. A cavernous, L-shaped room entirely devoid of soft furnishings, with a laughably inadequate sound system arranged along one side. The right-angle of the room was packed with very smartly-dressed London Property People.
There was a preponderance of blokes, of course, who seemed like perfectly nice people. Some of the younger men were very handsome and cheerful-looking. The old boys who came over to talk about their record collections or their valve amps were friendly and only slightly boring, and my policy of sticking to 45s on these occasions saves me from the stress of attempting to appear interested in what somebody is saying while cueing up an album track on the headphones.
There were women there too. One asked if I had anything off of Dirty Dancing, and another told us several times to turn it down, probably because she had chosen to stand very close to one of the speakers for all of her conversations that evening. It will irritate M if I take this opportunity to point out that I recognise that these individuals were not representative of all women, and were indeed, like the slightly boring men, probably perfectly nice people, despite their dissatisfaction with the service we were providing.
I knew beforehand that nobody was going to dance, and dancing is not always the appropriate response to music anyway. I knew as soon as I saw the room and the speakers that the sound quality was not even going to be adequate for people to enjoy listening to the music. If I had been on my own behind the decks, I probably would have kept the phones on all the time, so that I could entertain myself, at least, for five hours or so. Further, all of these people had conversations to conduct, I knew that. I'm really not complaining about any detail of this gig last night. Honest. It was a useful experience for a man whose life is changing, whose future is uncertain, and who is writing a blog about it.
For twenty-five years, and now more than ever, what I have really wanted is my own room, with a simple-but-entirely-effective system, that people might want to come to, and actually listen to the music. They are allowed to talk, just not too much.