I was a wedding DJ (sort of)
This is nowhere near what it was like
Not long ago, I had the honor of being asked to be the DJ at the wedding reception of some friends.
OK, “DJ” might not be the most technically accurate description of my role. There was no turntable in the reception hall and therefore no vinyl “discs” on hand to be “jockeyed.” None of the compact kind either, for that matter. All music was issuing from my iPod Classic, which contains 160GB of disk memory. I suppose that counts. So yeah, I was a DJ, at least in the most abstract possible sense.
There are certain conventional expectations for wedding music. Thankfully, almost none of them were imposed on me that evening. For one thing, there was to be no dancing. No couples first wedded dance, no eventual drunken “Mony, Mony” free-for-all, no “Electric Slide.” This was the newlyweds’ stated preference as well as a practical consideration – the tiny hall was a fine place for socializing but had scant room for a dance floor.
Still, providing music for social gatherings can be tricky. My goal for the evening’s sonic program was to be unobtrusive without being boring, eclectic without being jarring – to appeal to (or at least not offend) a group made up of a wide range of ages and cultural orientations, all while somehow expressing my own musical point of view.
I did have some help in crafting my master playlist. During the week leading up to the blessed event, my betrothed friends provided me with several requests – songs both of them love and would be happy to hear at their wedding celebration. These tracks, by artists such as Queen, David Bowie, Queen with David Bowie, The Smiths, Violent Femmes, The Rezillos and others, provided the anchor for the evening’s program. No matter what musical tributaries or tangents I might go on, every four or five songs, one of the couples’ picks would pop up and ground the proceedings.
There were also challenges. A few days before the event, I was confronted by members of the wedding party with a second list of requests. In contrast to the classic rock and alternative “deep cuts” of the bride and grooms’ previous song choices - which meshed perfectly with the groovy bachelor-pad instrumentals, upbeat dance numbers, romantic ballads and occasional ‘70s funk jams I had programmed - this litany of contemporary club and synthetic pop hits threatened to entirely destroy the mood I was attempting to build. But I dutifully mixed them in. This may or not have been the only wedding reception in history to feature a segue from Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen to Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.” What can I say? My aim was to please.
Befitting the heavy responsibility laid at my feet, I spent most of the party hovering around the PA’s iPod dock, monitoring for ear-shattering volume transitions or miscues. In the end, I received a few compliments from revelers and the happy couple were very appreciative. When I finally cleared the room with the raw throated howl of “Anywhere I Lay My Head” by Tom Waits, I felt the warm glow of a job well done.
This is all my roundabout way of announcing that I’m hanging out my shingle: Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your self-indulgent iPod party music programming needs. Reasonable rates, no refunds. Ceteris paribus.