Mid December 1998, a shy teenager is travelling by car from the South of England to a ski resort in the French Alps. Driving the car is his new boss as ‘Damo’ has got himself a job working for a small holiday company. Conversation was dry, laboured and awkward, despite his new boss attempting to oil the conversation to get through the 12 hour drive. Chatting to a shy teen is painful at the best of times, but a teen out of his comfort zone, heading away from home to a new country, with new people…let’s just say there was lots of one word answers….Until….
Until my new boss asked me what I liked to do for fun. There were 2 answers; football and music. Football got closed down pretty quickly as a non interesting subject. Music however spiked the interest and after 6 hours of tedium, we finally had something to talk about and kill the time.
Inevitably this got on to my DJ’ing. For the previous couple of years I had owned some vinyl turntables and a mixer. I wish I had a photo of this set-up, but seeing as the days pre-digital cameras meant that each photo was precious and expensive, something that my set-up was not. 2 vinyl turntables; 1 belt driven, 1 mechanical, both had previously been part of a home hi-fi set-ups; the cheapest 2nd hand mixer available, complete with wonky volume sliders and a loose crossfader, and to top it off, the set up was on a wonky table that shifted left and right at will…;)
This was 97/98, I wish I remembered how much a 12 inch cost at the time, but I don’t. What I do know is that I couldn’t afford much of it, or very often. So what I did have was a) treasured and b) very random. From bits and pieces on Positiva like Judy Cheeks – Reach, Hyper Go Go – Never Let Go , Outrage – Tall and Handsome and anything by Barbara Tucker! to Sasha and Maria – Be As One, a track called Dancing Daffodils, early Moby tracks like Go and Soft House Company – What You Like .
For me my decks and vinyl were everything. I must have conveyed this pretty well to my new boss and I do remember being a little sad to leave my beloved music back in northern England. It’s important for the story that I get across at this point that a) I was very shy and b) I had a grand total of a maximum 4 stoned teenagers at any point listening to me DJ.
So we arrive in my new wintery home and I get to work trying to learn how to snowboard. It’s mid December and a few weeks until the lifts open and the tourists arrive. All good. Christmas arrives as do our first guests. The company I am working for also staff a local bar and use it as their meeting point for their guests. At the time there is a DJ who plays in the bar a few times a week, he also works behind the bar on other nights. It’s a few nights before New Years Eve and I hear that there has been an argument between the DJ/Barman and the owner which has left them with no DJ.
Now some wannabe DJs may see this as an opportunity to get an audience. Not me. I knew what was coming. I.Shat.My.Pants….I wasn’t so much asked if I would DJ, as told I would DJ! My first night DJ’ing in front of a crowd, using equipment that wasn’t mine, for a new boss, at a new company, in a new country; New Years Eve. New Years Eve. Fuck.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are like ‘how the fuck did I find myself here?’, ‘What have I done’?, ‘How can I get out of this?’. I honestly considered trying to break my leg to save me from this hell!!
Before I knew it, the owner of the bar was taking me to Turin to choose music as the DJ had taken all his with him. I arrived back at the bar to see ‘DJ Damo New Years Eve’ sprayed in silly string on the windows of this bar. Did I mention it was a big bar and definitely the centre of nightlife in the town. Fuck.
Much like everything in life we dread, it wasn’t half as bad as I’d imagined. The stars aligned and I played Prince’s 1999 at midnight. It’s difficult to imagine now, but if you were around in the years prior to that record, released in 1982, had always seemed so futuristic. It seemed like 1999 would indeed be a massive party. Everyone knew the track and it was perfect…;) It actually worked out okay for me as I ended up DJ’ing at one of the town’s little nightclubs, not for money! but in exchange for my drinks when I was in there. All Good 😉
Hope you enjoyed my little story