So remember how last Monday I was all looking forward to this lull I was sure was going to happen? That magic time when I could maybe, like, take deep breaths and finish things? Yeah, I lied. There has been no lull. In fact, this past weekend was even crazier than the one before. I mean, we had pinatas, we had Princess Bride, we had prank calls at three in the morning, and then the weekend really got started. If I took you through the weekend blow by blow, this post would be ridiculously long. Plus, I feel like I’ve been posting too many of that sort of posts lately as it is. So I’m going to try to focus in a little. We’ll see how it goes.
The biggest thing this weekend was the Naptown Stomp DJ Workshop featuring Mike the Girl. It was an invitation only workshop put on by the Indianapolis local swing dancers who are hoping to nurture some local DJ talent, and not incidentally, improve the quality of the DJ’d music at their dances. One of my friends who lives there had gotten me the invite, though for a while I wasn’t sure if I could afford it. It wasn’t the cost of the workshop itself (which was ridiculously low), but the cost of gas to get there and back. But then I had my birthday, and when my parents asked me what I really wanted, I said, “Well, there’s this thing in Indy…” and that took care of that. I was so excited to go, partly because I felt honored to be included, but also because while I’ve been DJing for years, but never really knew whether I was any good or not. I was mostly DJing for the local university swing club, whom I also teach. While they seemed to like what I played, most of them don’t know about music or swing dancing to be able to tell a really good swing song from, say, a hole in the wall. They’d dance to just about anything. One part of the workshop was that, for an extra small fee, you could have a DJ slot at the dance that night, after which you would get feedback from the dancers, and from Mike the Girl. I was thrilled about this. I figured that if I turned out to be pretty good, that would be cool, and if I turned out to be bad, well then I would know.
I also have been wanting to expand into DJing for our local weekly dances. I really start to miss DJing over the summer break. It would be nice to be able to play my music in more places. Plus, if you DJ you don’t have to pay for the dance, and frankly every little bit helps these days. Plus, as things stand, our dances are always being DJ’d by the same three people. They’re good DJs, but sometimes a little more variety would be nice. Over a year ago I gave SD a sample playlist, which I am almost sure she has actually looked at. We talk about it every once in a while, but so far nothing has happened. She has told me that, honestly, it’s just easier to have the same people always DJing than to have to set up a schedule and worry about whether people will show up. I can understand that, but, well, I really want to DJ. So I’m also hoping that perhaps, with a little more training under my belt, I might be able to persuade SD to give me a chance.
The workshop was wonderful. I feel like I learned a lot, some about technical details, like how to help funky tracks sound better, and some about the theory behind playing a set of songs that make people really want to dance. It helped me think about the music I play in new ways. I left the workshop feeling inspired to dig deeper into my music, and to start to focus a little more on building my library of swing music. You would think that after years of playing for swing dances, I would have a huge selection of swing songs, but the thing is that the music I really love is blues, Motown, and soul. I tend to play a lot of that because it’s the music I feel deeply connected to. However, a lot of it isn’t actually swing. So I think over the next few months I’m going to challenge myself to start listening to a lot more swing music, searching out those songs that will grab me the same way that, say, Down Home Blues does every single time. I also want to know more about musical styles, so that when someone starts talking about, say, Delta Blues vs. Boogie Woogie, I actually know what they’re talking about.
Even better than the workshop, however, was doing my DJ set. I was so tired – I’d only slept three hours the night before (the First Saturday Women decided to have a slumber party, and no one actually sleeps at slumber parties), and then Mac and I got talking at dinner, and then I got lost on the way to the venue. Plus, did I mention that just when I started driving to the dance the skies decided to open up and try to wash Indianapolis off the map? Yeah, that made things exciting too. When I finally found the dance venue, and then found parking, it was ten minutes before my set was supposed to start. I grabbed my bag, shoved my dance shoes in the top, and started hauling butt down the street to get there. Thankfully, once I got upstairs, I was told that since they had gotten started late my set was pushed back twenty minutes, so I actually didn’t go on for half an hour. I heaved a huge sigh of relief, fired up my computer, and then went to change my shoes. And there was only one shoe in my bag. To put this in perspective, a swing dancer’s shoes are one of their most treasured possessions. These in particular were my beloved saddle shoes, saved for and extensively window shopped for after I’d literally danced holes in my other shoes, perfectly broken in, the shoes I hope to be wearing for the next five years. My mind seized up in a moment of panic, and then I realized that there were really only two possibilities: either I’d accidentally left one of my shoes in my car in my hurry, or else one of them had fallen out as I was hurrying towards the club. It didn’t really matter at that point what had happened, because right then I didn’t have time to go back out to my car, and I definitely didn’t have time to go searching around outside. Either I would be able to find the shoe after my set was done, or it would be gone for good, and there was nothing I could do about it. So I took a deep breath and headed back to my computer.
Did I mention that my computer was giving me fits too? I updated my music software a little bit ago, and it decided that it now couldn’t find half my library of music that I knew was there. For a little while I couldn’t even get the software to open. But eventually it did, I was able to find enough good songs that my software would admit existed to put together a decent sized selection, and was able to start right on time. And people danced. I ended up playing a lot more Charleston songs than I really wanted to, mostly because at the beginning of the set that was what everyone seemed to want to dance to, but by the end of the set I was in more comfortable territory, ending the set with one of my favorite Bobby Darrin songs, A Quarter To Nine. And then, when the MC was announcing the switchover, he said, “And by the way, is anyone missing a shoe?” and held up my beloved missing shoe. It was half soaked through, but it was intact, and I think with a little TLC, it will be just fine!
And then I got feedback! Almost all of it was good. While I didn’t get too many superlatives, no one hated me, and most seemed to like me pretty well. The best, however, was from Mike the Girl. She just about covered my sheet front and back with notes, which was awesome! She said that I was “very promising” and that she wanted to see where I would go. And that was just great. We talked about it some afterwards, which was also helpful, and then I decided that while I still had energy I wanted to drive home. This probably was a very bad idea, and Mac did try a little to talk me out of it, but I just wanted to be home. The rain had stopped, I cranked up my tunes, got a vat of coffee at the nearest drive through, and headed out. And it was good.
To be honest, I spent most of Sunday recovering from Friday and Saturday. I did go to see Thor with my siblings (all seven of us in driving distance made it), and I have to say that I love seeing movies with my family. It probably isn’t very fun for the other people in the movie theater, but I have a hard time caring about that. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this movie for months, and it did not disappoint. And now I’m looking forward even more to Captain America (coming out in August), not to mention the Avengers movie next year. Good times ahead, my dears, good times!
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I got an e-mail from Big Brother that my parents arrived safely in Korea, slept well, and got up to go to Mass the next morning. So all is well in that quarter too.