Marathoning DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Vimeo “Vinyl Destination” series (which chronicles his spinning worldwide) I learned a little about myself and how much I love music. But my love isn’t just music for music’s sake. It’s about what it does for people, the way it moves bodies without request or suggestion. Like a dominant partner in bed it goes all the work, as long as you give in to the call.
Coming up in the 80s and 90s dancing, outside of Go-Go(which I always dug for this reason) seemed to be about steps, about doing the dance everyone else doing, If you couldn’t keep up it was like musical chairs, and you were out. But that was hip-hop and hybrid R&B. Eventually I found my way to genres like reggae, house and classic mid-tempo funk and soul, where how you move has so much more to do with how your needle fit into the groove.
It was on the dance floor where I first came to understand women and the way the right woman knew how to follow your lead. Even if you have two left feet there’s a certain kind of sway that makes it alright. You can drop into a two-step, drink in-hand, and never miss a beat.
I’ve come to know DJs all over, from guys like Jeff and Evil Dee to JC, Larmarrous and Kemet in the A, to Jahsonic, Stylus, and RBI in the homelands. When the tables are theirs they can transform the same space 100 times over in the same night. The work is about order and rhythm and keeping chaos and cacophony out, cleansing the crowd of what they brought in that needs to leave them and sending them home rearranged inside the same shell. These past few years I’ve often been too preoccupied to appreciate both the art and science of movement. The stage/show/lounge was merely a place that allowed me to escape four walls and the oppression optimists tried to tell me was still humanity. But as this cold season begins and ends I’m upgrading myself, peeling back layers of things dead and callous in search of a youth I once knew, of a hunger for the anything that always seemed possible in the nights of my youth.
I will also be more open to partner, someone to ride the waves of song and interlude from the sun the falls until the moments at dawn when the moon is only faint in the sky. I’m doing this year bigger than L and Chris Wallace, and I’m gonna see everything they kept me from for waaaay too long.