Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Auld Lang Syne, and the Delicate Art of DJing

Originally posted: 01/03/07

As has been the case for almost every New Year’s Eve that I can remember (although it becomes noticeably less and less disconcerting the older I get), we were left devoid of any definite plans for how to ring in the new year until the eleventh hour, figuratively speaking. Sometime last week, Sandra, my live-in girlfriend, began trying to convince me that we should be the ones to host some kind of a celebratory shindig. Under normal circumstances, I’m more than willing to host a party for any type of occasion; hell, my family was dysfunctionallly-famous for the raucous affairs we used to host back on Madden Blvd back in the good ol’ days; but New Year’s Eve is hardly normal circumstances. So I was understandably cold to the idea at first. Partly because we had just recently moved into a new place and had yet to finish unpacking, but more so because Sandra and I have vastly differing ideas as to what a New Year’s party should be. She believes in multiple platters of fancy hors d’oeuvres, sophisticated conversation, and champagne at midnight; whereas I, for the most part, understand New Year’s to be about doing keg stands and shots of tequila, talking girls into sleeping with my friends, and going absolutely wild with the Jays just won the World Series pile-on at midnight. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s just the way it’s always been for me. (For more on the way I see New Year’s Eve, check out the short story entitled: New Year’s Eve, 1996). And there’s no way in hell that happens in my apartment.

But as is often the case, my rubber arm was twisted ever so gently, and before I knew what was happening, Sandra was out with her sister spending $250 on the kinds of appetizer foods that only girls would ever think to offer, and I was running back and forth to Long and McQuade and the sketchy guy in West Queen West who sells me my used stereo equipment in a last-ditch attempt to get my turntables spinning (I have absolutely zero experience and even less confidence in my aptitude where setting up electronics is concerned). But when I left Toronto at 4 o’clock for the annual Mike Foley steak dinner in the lovely and welcoming home of Mrs. Foley, most of the breakables were put out of the reach of children, the wheels of steel were mixing beautifully, and Sandra and her sister were slaving away in a sea of shrimp rings, rare cheeses, and whatever the hell goes into making a chocolate fountain work (like I said, the things that only girls would ever deem necessary for a party).

Dinner at Foley’s mom’s place was fantastic as always. Essentially the same group of guys has been heading over to Foley’s old homestead in Oakville every New Year’s Eve since we were fourteen years old. It’s the perfect way to get the festivities under way, filling our soon-to-be-saturated-in-alcohol bodies with a first class meal and getting the chance to catch up with the lads from the old neighbourhood with that brand of sophisticated conversation that we otherwise pass up on in favour of the sloppy-drunk rambling that usually defines the remainder of the evening. The fact that there were a few noticeable absences (Dan VZ in Arizona, Sweet Nate somewhere in the hinterlands of Orangeville) allowed for the highlight of the night, in the form of Flats getting the call as a seat filler, and who, having never really been inside the Foley household, actually walked into the house next door, taking off his shoes at the urging of an elderly Croatian man, and walking into the middle of a massive Croatian family dinner. Only when he saw the Commeesh, Foley’s next door neighbour, vacuuming up a spill in the other room, did he realize that he’d walked into the wrong house. Too funny.

The bender was a little slow getting under way, and had a distinct 8th grade dance feel to it early on, with most of the girls hanging around the chocolate fountain and most of the guys standing around, drinking themselves stupid. I was somewhat preoccupied with spinning the tunes, trying to play an appropriately music-snobbish selection of rare soul grooves that was clearly being appreciated by only myself and DJ Drummond, who was offering some seriously helpful advice while looking on with a sense of pride at my fledgling attempt. At one point Foley walked over and pulled out a Culture Club album pointed to the Karma Chameleon track and said: “If you want people to dance, play this.” Drummond and I both laughed at him, and Drummond offered the advice: “Don’t ever play that.” So we went back to the James Brown and the Stevie Wonder and the Marva Whitney and the Milli Jackson, watching dumbfoundedly as nobody got it. I even went so far as to play Dylan’s Changing of the Guard at midnight, an appropriately profound allusion to the turning of the calendar that exactly nobody noticed. A few hours later, and many, many cocktails later, Nicole’s boyfriend Jeff showed up and offered to take over the musical duties, which I was more than happy to hand off.

Standing outside on the balcony five minutes later, I noticed that the entire party was shaking their collective money makers on the improvised dance floor, and when I stepped back inside, sure enough, DJ Jeff was giving the people precisely what they wanted: Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon. Fuck me.

And I guess that’s the lesson to be learned for spinning tunes at a party. If you play that ultra rare music that you paid a small fortune to get on vinyl, the only people who are going to appreciate it are the people who would never in their lifetimes be caught dancing in the first place. If you want people to dance and sing along and have a good time, you have to give them what they want, even if what they want is Boston, ACDC, and Quiet Riot. But DJ Jeff also threw in some fantastic Tom Waits off the new album, some classic Springsteen (I think I may have given him a kiss on the cheek for that one), and he gave me a much needed break and some serious peace of mind that things were in good hands. I owe the man a beverage.

On to the goods of the bender. Ash and Jax didn’t take any time in trying to establish themselves as the life of the party as the loaded sodas were flowing freely and frequently, but I think the nod on the night eventually went to the two single friends that Devon was kind enough to bring along. Honestly. What would the odds have been that the two single girls would have ended up going home with Ronnie and the Bomber respectively? I think Flats and I put it at approximately 2 to 3. I believe there was some evidence linking the Bomber and his date to a little bit of extra curricular activity taking place in my office, but that has yet to be substantiated. And the entire ordeal may or may not have ended in a scene reminiscent of something out of American Pie, with Sully trying to barge in on Ronnie’s baby to catch a Mr. Skin approved glimpse, and there was some impromptu debate over whether or not stitches might be necessary back at the Bomber’s place. Say my name, bitch!

There were very few casualties, with the lone exception being my spilling an entire platter of meatballs onto my own carpet at six in the morning. Sandra’s theory (and one that makes more and more sense the more I think about it) is that when people come to a party and they see all of this high class food on display and artwork hanging on the walls, they immediately understand that this isn’t one of those high school keggers where it’s cool to put your fist through a wall or piss off the balcony or have sex in the office. And there’s probably something to that. But I tend to believe that has more to do with our simply getting older and less ambitious. Whatever.

There was one minor incident involving a guy who may or may not have been Laura’s boyfriend. Apparently he and Sully were chirping one another in the hallway near the bathroom, and when I got in the middle of it they were both about to go at each other. I’ve known Sully since I was about 10 years old, and I’d never seen this clown before in my life, so it was a no brainer. No offence pal, but you’re at the wrong party. We left that bullshit behind about 10 years ago.

It turns out he kicked Laura (his girlfriend) out of their cab about fifteen minutes later, leaving her alone on College Street at three in the morning, so it looks like we probably made the right call. You don’t need guys like that hanging around.

Anyway, Sully, Jamie Lee and I ended up listening to tunes until sometime after 7am while Sandra and Little Buddy sawed logs on the couch. All in all, I think a grand time was had by all. It was good to get the post-midnight calls from those who couldn’t be there: Dan VZ, Sweet Nate, Lisa and Blake, and my parents. Class acts, every one of you. Thanks to Sandra and Jamie Lee for all of the work they did putting the entire production together, and thanks to everyone who stopped by and didn’t destroy my pad. We’ll see if we can do it again next year, maybe at someone else’s place.

1 comment:

Sean McCallum said...

Comments (3 total)
Just for the record, I also pulled out several additional classics, including Bob Seger in the mullet years, Michael Jackson when he was still black, and numerous other little ditties that currently escape me, probably due to the vast quantities of Sleeman Light that I was throwing back. But, yes, I do consider myself a man of the people and am in touch with what my people like to groove to.

--Mike Foley
2007-01-03 16:32:13 GMT

Good Bender!
2007-01-04 06:42:39 GMT

It was Dire Straits. I also played Dire Straits.
2007-01-09 22:13:12 GMT