Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Return to Scuff

One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t see enough of my friends. It’s not that we make it easy for ourselves, Katie and Australia Jo live in Australia, Penny and Mike are in Jersey, Jules has spent the last couple of years shuttling between Nottingham and New Zealand. Everyone is busy, so it usually takes a wedding to get everyone in the same room at the same time.

Worryingly, Scuff 2’s main room was empty for quite a long time. But at least it was occupied by those I most wanted to see. We hadn’t seen Penny, who for the second year running turned up as a surprise, since the 24-hour mercy dash to Russ and Sam’s wedding in July. We hadn’t seen Willy and Leo since their housewarming, and we hadn’t seen Jules since she helped me with my foot at The New Year hideaway in Derbyshire. Nobody had eyeballed Andrew for over a year.

I kept reassuring myself that as we’d managed to get nearly everyone in the same room and that this was the success we were looking for. Penny, suffering from a dose of trapped wind, was able to get down on all fours and rock rhythmically to release the discomfort in the middle of the dancefloor with nobody noticing. The party wasn’t rocking quite how we’d envisaged.

It was kicking off on the ground floor, people were getting stuck in the bar – and damn them – enjoying themselves too much to explore the rest of the venue. Then the evening pitched down a notch as a kerfuffle involving a lost sister driving around London aimlessly unfolded. The whole thing was turning into a nightmare.

But, one thing my How To DJ Properly book talks about is patience, soul destroying though it was we kept cool and cranked the music up slowly from a bit of 60’s funk and disco, to some hip hop, a Spankee deep house set, a Ruffles slightly bigger house set. As the nonsensical breakdown for Felix Da Housecat’s Watching Girls Go By wound its way up, I looked up to see the room had suddenly become pretty full.

Someone came and asked to help us dig out some records – thanks, we said, but there wasn’t enough space. There are some people here “desperate to dance to Hey Yah by Outkast”. We’d play it, we said, he wanted to know when, where, how, why. We were on a role, and back in control of the night, I rebuffed him and he retreated.

Then Spanx called it, the time had come, it was time to make people dance. I pulled out Lose My Breath by Destiny’s Child, a gargantuan tune, a sign to say that we were onto a new level. Clearing the palette with Tipsy by J-Kwon we introduced some floor slaying Beyonce.

Thousands of pounds of investment in music and music playing paraphernalia, hundreds of hours perfecting our laughable mixing skills and it took Beyonce, Wham Rap, Deee Lite and, of course, Outkast to set the party alight. But that doesn’t matter when you’ve got the whole room smiling. People were dancing, standing on chairs, and erm, doing press-ups. We mixed up Wiseguys and Sugarhill Gang, sampled and looped up the opening refrain of House of Pain’s Jump Around so it opened with a 10 second screech of horns. At one point Spanx simply got bored of a tune, stopped it and put on something new. Liberation!

The tunes pitched up to Do Your Thing by Basement Jaxx as the witching hour approached. There was time for one more tune, and it was obvious which it was to be. I sampled up the opening blast of Beyonce, introducing it in time with the final thuds of the Jaxx. There was a whoop of delight from the dancefloor, somebody recognised a tune coming in. The Jaxx closed out and Beyonce, for the second time, went back on and everyone wigged out.

The landlord said we had two more tunes before he’d have to turn us off. But that was it, that was the peak, people may have wanted more, and we could have given them more, but they weren’t getting it.

We won.


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