As the author of All Crews flipping between being the writer, the raver and the insider I get to hear some privileged information. Problem is that I can’t divulge everything.
As DJ Fresh once told me, “You may have the journalistic right to say x, y and z about so and so but they may retain the right to knock your block off.”
So it’s healthy to forget some things. But every so often I hear something so mind-blowingly shocking that I can’t get it out of my head.
This concerns the former Jungle DJ Queen from the 90s. Just over a year ago I’m leaving Sun&Bass in the artist’s taxi for the airport when a senior DJ tells a story. He’s on stage at some big rave and the crowd are ‘aving it. All good there.
But he clocks that the former DJ Queen is playing a mix CD and merely miming.
‘Wha what. You Wot!’ I’m thinking, scarcely believing my ears.
“Yeah, she was miming! And when I asked her, “Oi what’s all that about?”
She just says without shame: “Well they,” pointing to the crowd. “They ain’t gonna know any difference.” So that’s how she’s going on, without shame, collecting a phat fee shamelessly.
My respect for her evaporated in an instant. I felt disgusted. She was someone who had inspired me. What she did was wrong on so many levels.
Aside from cheating the crowd with Mickey Mouse antics. I’m sure the promoter didn’t pay her to play a prepared mix CD. This ain’t Top Of The Pops with grinning bands miming into the camera. This is jungle, drum & bass. And we don’t do that.
I’ll never forget interviewing Mr Scratching Stein, aka DJ SS, who stated emphatically: “To call yourself a DJ you have to perform on the wheels of steel.”
Okay, steel has given way to plastic CDJs and digital MP3s, but you get what I’m saying. If you’ve earned the right to be on stage, you perform end of.
With encroaching multiple sclerosis, I can see a time when I won’t be able to perform on the wheels of steel. When that time comes I’ll sadly hang up my headphones. Till then I’ll carry on spinning.
I DJ from a wheelchair at home and my mobility scooter, dubbed the All Crews mobile when I’m on stage. I’m also DJing with one and a half hands. It might not be pretty but it works.
Now, if I can move the crowd as a DJ who happens to be disabled, surely I have the right to expect, no demand that others who’d take to the stage perform as a DJ. No excuses.
So what of DJ Mix Tape? I’m told that in other scenes of electronic dance music the disc jockeys (funny, the spell checker wanted to say disc jokes) it’s common for DJs to mime. But that is Joke Biznez. The thing I’ve loved about our scene is the determination to keep it real.
So in my minds eye, I envisage DJ Mix Tape being court-martialled for conduct unbecoming of a DJ, her headphones being broken under foot and henceforth being banished to the land of house.
But in the world of the real, you need to fix up. After all, you’re the person said in All Crews, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out.”