Caught between Christmas and the last occasional glimpses of British summertime, we're right in the thick of house party season (unless you have no friends or live in some kind of Presbyterian ghetto in the Highlands). Sometimes they're good (lots of booze, no cops) and sometimes they're not so good (no booze, lots of cops), but it's always the music that turns a party from being a quiet drink in a room with your friends, to a crystallised moment that reminds you why you put up with the rest of your shitty existence.
Some people have the innate ability to play the right tunes at a party, the tunes that make sense, the tunes that make the girls dance. Whereas some people really don't; they are the ones with the innate ability to jar, confuse and upset the rhythm. I'm not talking about the taste trolls, either; we all know the kind of person who likes to stick on "Three Lions" at a glam rooftop party, and some of us might even be that person.
I'm talking about the kind of amateur disc jockey who just doesn't fucking get it. Luckily, as a man who doesn't know much about beat-matching or EQ levels, but whose (unpaid) DJ work has had bouncers shaking his hand, I know a thing or two about rocking the party. Thus I also know what I hate, and I hate these people DJing at any party I'm at.
DRUM N WASTEMEN
Picture the scene: it's 1AM, you're manning the laptop at a house party on a sultry summer night, the girls are rubbing their cut-offs up against the wallpaper, you're playing "Hypnotize" or Jean Jacques Smoothie or something, everything is alright with the world tonight. Then, some sub-woofer vampire with a bedsit tan who hasn't had a drink because he "only buns, yeah" lumbers towards the makeshift booth and bluntly mumbles to you: "You got any Pendulum, bruv?" These people ruin every house party they ever go to.
Drum n bass obsessives are the worst kind of purists; they insist on killing everybody else's buzz because they're too far gone in skunk psychosis to appreciate any music without a breakbeat. Sure, a bit of Congo Natty or "Inner City Life" can blow the lid off any party, but parties need lulls and peaks. With drum n bass you're travelling at the same pace the entire time; things begin to pass you by, people you could have made out with are reduced to expressionist smears across your memory, it's the audio equivalent of being on a pan-European high-speed train. Before you know it, it's too late. The bassheads have entered their 160bpm vortex, and they won't be coming out until their post round the next morning.
Motherfucker, nobody wants to hear Alt-J on their birthday. Not even members of Alt-J want to hear Alt-J on their birthday. Yet there's always some guy (never a girl) who wants to hear "just one song" at a party. The reason he wants to hear this song is because he is under the mistaken impression that this will make him look cool. He reckons that people's ears will prick up like that bit when they play the Beta Band in High Fidelity, that the girls and cooler guys will come rushing to him and ask, "Just what IS this magical song you've parachuted into my life!?" And he will calmly reply: "Alt-J," with the unmistakable confidence of a man who knows what the fuck he's talking about.
Oh, how wrong he is. This man is only ever answered with the knees of the dancers stiffening up in confusion, people will suddenly remember they need a piss or a cigarette, the dancefloor John Peel himself will be reduced to the state of a man who's told a joke that doesn't make sense or a street performer who's fallen off their unicycle. And yet they still insist on being at every fucking party I go to.
Let's face it; the days of Flaubert, Gainsbourg and Picasso are a long way behind our continental neighbours. Their fluctuating economies and greenhouse climate have ushered them firmly into what historians will one day call the "Guetta era", or perhaps "the age of Aviici". Somewhere along the line, having a crew of Spanish girls at your party went from being a sexy lure to a good excuse to call it a night.
Their Mediterranean twang might seem sweet when they come over and ask for "Some Tiesto, for instance?" but they really aren't much different from Essex girls. Firstly, they all love tracks that have somebody who used to be someone going "Wooaaaah!" over a synth stab breakdown, and for some reason it sends them mental. You'll end up with the sticky spillings from their Desperados all over your laptop, somebody might get scratched and they won't leave until your coke has ran out at 9AM.
PEOPLE ON KETAMINE
Most people on most drugs make pretty good music selections. People on coke, for instance, kinda gravitate towards maniacal hip-hop from decadent rap pharaohs like Rick Ross, or songs from the soundtracks of their favourite films, in which people invariably take a lot of coke (Goodfellas, Boogie Nights, et al). The MDMA and its derivatives crowd predictably go for euphoric house (or Elliot Smith, if it's six hours later). K-heads on the other hand, are a law unto themselves. They seem to want to hear the sound of their own nightbus nightmares, the crisis of womps and wails that compliments their floating terror.
Needless to say, this isn't what anybody who isn't on ketamine wants to hear at a party, so they should probably be ushered away from the stereo in case they spend half an hour typing "Bruial Soth Lndon NBroughS" into Spotify and talking about how small their feet look.
ANYBODY WHO MAKES THEIR OWN MUSIC
There is nothing, absolutely nothing worse than anybody at a party stopping the music and saying "Guys, guys. Here's a little something we've been working on in the studio. It's a bit rough at the moment, but, I hope you like it anyway." It's usually exercised with the very worst kind of faux humility, the creative realm's version of a deliberate towel drop at the gym.
Always tell them that the drums are too high, that really fucks with them.
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive
Photos by Jake Lewis.
More on DJs, dancing, parties, etc: