(K. Brent Tomer),
THE best nightclub DJs possess a shamanistic power. They have it within them to control the movements of thousands of people as if they were a single being; to hold the mood of a crowd in their hands; to force it to turn, arms aloft, and await instruction. That need is deep-rooted. In “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”, a history of the subject, Bill Brewster imagines night falling on prehistoric savannahs, where early man “abandoned the taboos of waking life” and “joined the gods”. To a relentless beat struck by an army of drummers, he would lose himself in dance. The witchdoctor who led this carnal parade, writes Mr Brewster, was the modern DJ’s antecedent.
To gain such lofty status, DJs, particularly back in the days of vinyl records, had to sweat. Before digitisation, mixing records in a nightclub was a technical discipline as difficult to master as learning chord progressions on a guitar. Flitting between two records, with different beats-per-minutes and in different keys, meant the best managed to create unique music in real time, using nothing but two turntables and a mixing desk. Playing a set that lasted for hours,…Continue reading