Going to parties is for the young. I always get a bit depressed when I see posters for ‘over 40’s’ parties. It’s not meant to be; people of my generation should sit at home and watch TV. Young people go to parties because they are young, because they are looking for sex, and because they feel a connection with the club or the music. Even musical omnivores like me inevitably lose connection with what’s hot and what’s not. I used to mock my father for having only 60’s music. Now I find myself in a situation that the music I like most is from the 80’s. So the only difference between my father and me is that he likes the music from his twenties and I like the music from my late teens.The difference is minimal.
Thinking about the music I used to dance to, or the music I played as a DJ, most of it is from the late 70’s, the 80’s or the early 90’s. It covers the end of Punk, the full New Wave cycle, Gothic, all New Romantics shit, the rise of MTV, the first phase of house music, Pop muzik in the 80’s, Grunge and Indie. That period roughly corresponds with my teenage years, years of melancholy and heartbreak. It should not be a surprise that Joy Division was my favourite band back then; every year a new generation of teenagers discover Joy Division, and all those teenagers feel Joy Division songs are about them personally. The connection between band and audience is almost universal.
Coming back to party music, in the 80’s and early ’90’s we still played songs, no mixes. We played on combinations of (double) cassette decks, record- and CD players. It was impossible to fade out songs, as a DJ you just had to be very precise with starting a new song, especially on the record player. That same record player we avoided as much as possible if the dance floor was bad and the needle kept jumping through songs. It would also jump if someone leaned into the DJ booth, a table with the stereo set and a collection of beer bottles, a bit too forcefully. As the night progressed and everyone got more drunk, this obviously happened more and more. It’s was all very primitive, we were just playing songs, nothing fancy.
Was it nicer to dance or to DJ? I don’t know. Dancing would get you closer to the action (the girls you wanted to kiss), DJ-ing would get you free beer and power (and closer to the girls you wanted to kiss, especially when you played that song she really liked). In the end the difference wasn’t that big. We all got drunk, we all waltzed to the ultimate last song (The End by The Doors) and we all stumbled back home. Same as kids do these days, some things don’t change.
What did we dance to? What did we play? Something like this…
New Order – Blue Monday (1983)
The Clash – London Calling (1979)
The Doors – The End (1967)
Prince – Kiss (1986)
The Cure – A forest (1980)
Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (1968)
Joe Jackson – One more time (1979)
Simple Minds – Don’t you (forget about me) (1985)
U2 – New year’s day (1983)
Iggy Pop – The Passenger (1977)
Bronski beat – Smalltown boy (1984)
The Jam – A town called malice (1982)
Radiohead – Creep (1992)
Rage against the machine – Killing in the name (1992)
The Smiths – Panic (aka ‘hang the DJ’) (1986)
Bob Marley – No woman, no cry (live) (1975)