Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Our foray into dance music for medium-sized gatherings was a disaster. We’d begged and borrowed and lost not a little sleep over the task of putting the music together, but by Friday Fancy and I had four discs of rock-solid, people-pleasing tunes that never degenerated into the kind of cheese more appropriate for (as the belter put it) Shannon and Gary's wedding. If people couldn’t dance to this, we said, it wouldn’t be our fault.

The reunion itself was great—nice dinner in posh surroundings with good company. A DiffMusic reader or two “came out” to me, which caught me off guard. (I’ve now upwardly revised my estimated audience numbers by one half). After dessert, I helped clear tables and chairs off the dance floor and asked Maureen, the superb woman who’d organized the event, about the PA.

She led me to a decade-old ghetto blaster that the venue had supplied, one of those largish portable stereos with a 25-CD cartridge and dual cassette deck. The speakers looked up to the job, but the rest of it didn’t. The “play” button was caved in, and that CD tray had me worried. I’ve never trusted the whole consumer-grade CD jukebox concept.

I loaded it with three discs and crossed my fingers. Our first selection, “Nothing But Flowers” by Talking Heads, started playing. The venue staff adjusted the lighting and switched the mirror ball on. Perfect. It was only a matter of time before our meticulously sequenced CDs worked their magic, gradually building towards a dance explosion that would rival Deney Terrio’s Dance Fever, if not Mel’s Rock Pile.

Shortly into the second song (Elastica, “Connection”), we were asked to turn it down.

Halfway through the second song (Elastica, “Connection”) the CD skipped and went back to the middle of the first song.

Thus ended the dance portion of the evening. We formed a troubleshooting huddle around the stereo, immersed in our own private disaster while everyone else in the place had a nice chat. We tried disc two, and the same thing happened—we got halfway through the second song, then it was déjà vu all over again. We tried to skip ahead to songs 3, 4, or 5. No music resulted. A distraught Fancy, fortified by prime rib and gin & tonics, kicked me in the shin.

Half an hour before the event ended, a staffer brought us a much smaller CD player to use, a feeble, tinny sounding unit that played our discs perfectly.

To sum up: The whole mishap was the perfect argument against reproducing music digitally. If I’d filled up a beautiful TDK SA90 with the same tunes, we’d be heroes.

While compiling the music, we rejected dozens of our fave artists for not being danceable enough, including Neil Young. Looking back, however, a double shot of “Piece of Crap” and “F*!#in' Up” would have suited the occasion perfectly.

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