It is very common for club events to be full of people, which is typically the primary objective of the promoter. Of course, many G/I scene promoters know that sometimes events happen that become defined by a near total absence of people, which sucks, and if you’re DJing, can leave you wondering what the hell you’re even doing there. I’ve been there, and how. This is that story.
My very first attempt at promotion was a VERY big deal to me. I had dreamt of playing for a club crowd and eventually I convinced the manager (friend of a work acquaintance) of a club in central MA to let me hold an event at his venue, The Penitentiary. And yes, somebody really named a club that. My college radio DJ experience was to serve as my credentials, which, looking back, he definitely should not have accepted. I think I called it The Cyberflesh Conspriacy, after my UMASS radio show, which *ahem* borrowed the name from an old Industrial CD compilation.
First of all, let me remind you that virtually no success comes without failure and the invaluable lessons it forces you to learn. Secondly, if you are trying to get a Goth night going in the mid 1990s, you should avoid doing any of the following: 1) Hold the event at a Central MA club named after prison that’s nearly impossible to find, 2) Choose a Tuesday night to do it, 3) Make it 21+, which was unusual back then, and 4) promote it only with super lame hand-cut, text-only, flyers you made in MS Paint, at places that do not want you promoting there. Naturally, I did all of these things. It is also worth noting that the event space was a Country Western themed bar with knotty pine paneled walls and a seven foot tall stuffed Grizzly Bear next to the dance floor, surrounded by NASCAR posters. These things are not very Goth.
Somehow, by some miracle, four people showed up. One of them, if I remember correctly, was DJ Lostboy, the person who shared with me the old playlist from the last post. I didn’t know him then, but the Goth world is a small world. At any rate, it was a pretty lame time and I was not allowed to return. Ever. I think his awkward conversation with me at the end began with something like: “So… That didn’t go so well”, which was the winner of that year’s understatement contest. Never a good sign when you’re scheduled to go until 1am and you’re asked to shut down at 11:45, and also refund the $20 (total) in door cover you’ve collected.
Rather miraculously the next interesting DJ thing I did was get a job at ManRay, using my experience DJing on college radio and at an “exclusive” event in Worcester as my credentials, which they probably shouldn’t have accepted. Actually, the thing that really got me the gig there was the glowing endorsements from my friends who were working there in other capacities and were kind enough to be my advocates. I was pretty bad at first, but I think I figured it out quickly. They kept letting me back and pretty quickly gave me a regular gig on Friday nights. That job, spinning at Fantasy Factory in 1995 , is when I started the clock on my professional career as a DJ. Having that experience and seeing how hard it was for new DJs to make a name for themselves definitely guided me when I started Ceremony and eventually started bringing a lot of different perspectives into the booth with me, sometimes without me.
The moral of the story is that no DJ should ever have to play Marilyn Manson at a taxidermied bear to get their career started. Poor guy, he smelled like Bud Light and farts. I hope he wound up somewhere more dignified when that place went belly up. I like to imagine him holding court with some other glass eyed beasts in a museum, far from Country music and aspiring DJs.