From nervous bedroom fumbling’s to performing on cue to thousands of people, we ask some of the city’s best DJs to talk us through their first time…
My first time was in Leeds in 2000 for my mate’s 30th. He had secured a residency at Speed Queen and all of the DJs that I held in high regard were there.
It took me a month of planning and the night before the gig I couldn’t sleep. That day I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t eat and spent most of the day pacing and in the bathroom. He had given me the headline slot as well which made it even more nerve-wracking.
After my first 2 mixes, I felt a little more at ease. I then dropped a promo of Class A’s ‘Streetlife’ on Azuli. The place went off and I had my peers coming up to me asking what the tune was. That was a buzz in itself.
The party was wicked and I was on such a high I didn’t sleep that night either. I wanted to do it again and it gave me the confidence to push further.
Thanks, Tin Tin, it’s all down to you x
My first proper gig in an actual club was The Tartan House near Colchester in 1987. I was 15 years old (the manager was not aware of this obviously). I was playing soul, funk and rare groove with some very early house in a hip-hop mash-up style as I was a scratch DJ (or Turntablist as they seem to be called nowadays). Half an hour into my set, my friend, who shall remain anonymous was stood at the bar with the Manager. “Not bad for a fifteen-year-old huh” were his words in the Managers shell-like. I was promptly removed from the said club without pay.
My first time was at a house party at my parent’s house when I was 17/18 years old. It was a straight-up garage house party on a pair of Soundlab belt drives and a Gemini 626 mixer (still love that mixer). I was really nervous which was evident by the shaky hand man syndrome when playing my first tune. But that soon subsided after the first mix which was TJR, ‘Just Gets Better’ into Antonio – ‘Hyper Funk’ (my first ever bits of vinyl). The party went off from there on in and was raucous. We still reminisce about it between us, we tore my parent’s house apart, a bedroom door got smashed through. We prepared a hell of a lot of Bernard Matthew’s turkey drummers as canapes (I’m told is the reason it gets remembered so fondly). Various ornaments and glasses got destroyed, standard practice really. And to top it all off, me and some of the lads, after everyone had left went to the garage for some late night/early morning snacks (turkey drummers did not suffice) only to return to see that the house had been broken into. Nothing was taken, so he/she must’ve been disturbed, but the result of which was that I blamed all the damage and general untidiness of the house on the break-in. Result!
My 1st time was at Hard Times in 1996. This wasn’t a real gig but the resident DJ was running late so Steve Raine the promoter asked me to fill in the 2nd room until he came. They gave me 3 records. A Daft Punk album. A positive records album and an am:pm single. I had no headphones so had to listen to the ting of the needle on the vinyl. All vinyl DJs will know what I mean. Mel B was there and I just about got away with the set. It was another 4 years until I played my 1st official gig.
It was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (well some pub in York, the name escapes me)
I was 17 and it was heaving, York was starved of a credible underground dance music scene in those days. I never expected it and the atmosphere was buzzing. Due to a lack of cable length/adequate plug sockets, the decks had to face the back wall of the stage. So I essentially played with my back to the crowd most of the set. It didn’t faze me (in fact it helped with my initial nerves – it was like DJ’ing in a very loud bedroom). It was back in the days so I dropped all sorts of epic tracks (most of which are classics now), I do remember dropping Dupree’s “Brass Disk” acapella over the Psychotropic “Hypnosis” halfway through the set (I’d still play that now I reckon).
2 things I remember from the night: 1. I slept a lot as a teenager and before I went on I decided to have a sleep on the stage (which I actually managed for 30 minutes in the middle of the party). And then a guy from my school in Leeds recognized me, he was a little worse for wear and decided he was going to MC for me halfway through my set (whether I liked it or not – I didn’t for the record).
Jixo and Danz
Our first time was back home in Lebanon in a club called Square Bar, in the famous Monot street where all the pubs and clubs were located in the center of Beirut City.
It was 11 years ago (Jixo was 20 years old and Danz 19), and the DJ booth was tiny with 2 Pioneer CDJ 100s along with either a Numark or Vestax mixer! It wasn’t easy at all to play an extended set back then and obviously, there were some mixing mistakes! However, we managed to play a 4 hours set and keep the crowd bouncing till the end of the night
We played House music, mainly progressive with an underground twist. At that time, we were influenced by big names such as John Digweed, Sasha, Nick Warren, Lee Burridge, Danny Tenaglia, D-Formation. Oh, and we were pretty happy and surprised to see Paul Oakenfold show up randomly in the club. Apparently, he was booked the next day Beirut!
The first time I ever DJ’d I was 9 years old. My Mum threw a party and she was still preparing things when the first guests arrived. I remember there was a whole bunch of people standing around talking with drinks in their hand, but there was no music! I went straight to the wall of vinyl that my Mum had and scrolled my eyes across all the colorful sleeves, imagining which song was going to set a good mood. I remember exactly the moment that I dropped the needle on The Emotions ‘Best Of My Love’ and cranked the Technics Hifi to 11. Everyone at the party cheered and there was an instant dancefloor. That was the moment that started my lifelong fling with playing music for people.
The first time I played Space in Ibiza was in 1998 for a Clockwork Orange after party. I hustled a huge crew of friends to come down to support and party the morning away and there was always a who’s who of Ibiza DJs present (this is was when Space was a morning only party). The terrace was packed and I was on between 9.30 and 11 am for the closing set. After a few ‘chupitos’ to calm the nerves, I jumped into the DJ booth and got my first record out of the bag, the resident Jon Ulysses unplugged his headphones and it was all mine. Headphones plugged in, record queued up, started to mix, everything sounded right but the entire terrace had stopped dancing and were staring at me, the mix was perfect but no-one was moving, it couldn’t have been the record as it was the perfect track for the moment, what was going on!?
Then it dawned on me, the mixer was an old Rodec and none of the faders were labeled – I had pulled the master volume down rather than the volume on the previous track and all that I could hear were the booth monitors. So I had 1,000 people staring at me in the booth – jumping around like an idiot to no music. Thankfully someone leaned in to flip the volume up and the party continued, first time experience and I’ll never forget it!
My first gig was in 2009 at Warehouse, Le Meridien for a night called “For Members Only”. It was a house/commercial night but at that time I was heavily into minimal techno and techno. I was very excited and keen on sharing my music with the crowd. So my set comprised of Richie Hawtin, Magda, Loco Dice, Ricardo Villalobos, Sven Vath, Ellen Alien, etc. I think a lot of people were completely surprised by this little Filipino girl playing some underground techno. I received a lot of nods and cheering from the crowd which was super awesome. Looking back though, I really thought I pushed my music too much for that night as it didn’t really fit the theme, though some people appreciated it and commended me for being myself.
One time I played before my current boyfriend, David Craig, whom I just met back then (back in June 2009). I don’t think he was very happy with me leaving him with a very dark underground tech house track.
Rod Lee Keher
My first time was at my best mates 21st birthday in an upstairs rental room in a nightclub formerly known as World Bar.
Plenty went wrong, there were spilled drinks, decks bumping and general looseness, but I did get a few cheers from mixes perfected through hours of bedroom banging.
Stand out tracks would have to be ‘Believe’ by Ministers De La Funk and ‘Big Love’ by Pete Heller – which remains in my collection for any given gig to this day.
I pretended the mistakes belonged to someone else, bought some more drinks and grinned from ear to ear. Which must have worked as I was offered my first residency off the back of the set!