Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My life as a DJ and Record Collector (Part VI)

At the end of part V, DJ'ing was in full swing, both with Bobby Konders as 'Dynamic Deuce Disco' and then on the solo tip. 

One of the things I did not mention in the last chapter as I moved into the '80's was that I met my wife Millie in 1982 and got married in '86. I'm trying to keep the story related to the topic, but my wife is a huge part of that because since the day we met she's always been supportive; she's never once questioned me about my records or DJ'ing. Obviously, that is one more reason in her eventually becoming my wife, but many in this game will tell you that they aren't so lucky.

Through the '80's and '90's it was primarily private parties I was spinning. College parties at ESU and Lehigh University, dances I would promote to make some money, weddings etc; you name it I played it. During the '80's I was also involved in my share of DJ battles as the DJ craze took off here in the valley. (The photo above is from a battle in the summer of '86).

Then in 1996 an opportunity arose to spin at Casablanca Nightclub in Bethlehem. Many of my friends hung out there regularly and the owners weren't happy with the way the club was being handled at the time, so my friends talked them into giving me a shot. Since I knew the owners as well it was an easy agreement. This would be the beginning of a two-year residency every Friday night. However, it was a tragedy two weeks into that residency that would be the unfortunate reason it took off.

Labor Day weekend '96, my friend Fran Serrano was tragically murdered outside a nightclub in the valley just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the time he had two very young children, so I held a benefit the following Friday at Casablanca with all the proceeds to go to Fran's kids and the turnout was immense. We raised $1,100 dollars and the word was now out that I would be there every Friday night.

For the next two years from '96-'98 Friday night at Casablanca grew to become the hottest spot in the Lehigh Valley; I would always end the night at 2AM with the song 'Does your man know about me' by Rahiem off the 'Juice' soundtrack. It got to a point that name acts such as Fat Joe, Big Pun, Mad Lion and Killarmy, to name a few, came through to perform and hangout. I also shared the booth one night with Philly's #1 DJ at the time, Power 99's DJ Ran. (Both of us pictured here in the booth at Casablanca).

Alas, as I always tell people, a nightclub's run is short lived and my residency ended after two years in the summer of '98 due to creative differences between management and myself. However, where one door closes another one always opens and as I continued to do parties around the valley, now with more of a name than before, another opportunity came along.

One day at a private function I was spinning at, I met the wife of former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. I ended up giving her my business card and she eventually gave it to her husband who gave it to the manager of his bar/restaurant/nightclub 'Ringside' in Easton, PA. The following month in November 2000, I got a call to come down and audition. That would be the beginning of an eight year run spinning the Friday night Happy Hour, spinning exclusive parties at the club and private gigs for the champ at his home. (Photo below is in the booth at Larry Holmes Ringside)

In 2008 after a longer than usual tenure at one club my residency at Ringside was over. Nonetheless, I had my fair share of private gigs to spin at over the next few years, so I remained busy. However, I began to notice that the music just wasn't the same. Hip-Hop's golden era of the '90's had gone by, R&B's neo-soul lost its luster and House music became commercial. I know I sound like a biased old man, but it's true.

Couple that with being older, working full-time and maintaining a family I began to suffer from something I thought I would never experience; I began to burnout on music and DJ'ing. It got to a point I was spinning just to make a dollar; in other words it just became a job and as for my records, I stopped listening to them.

With the advent of DJ technology such as Serato, I no longer had to carry crates to a gig. I still had them all stored beautifully in my basement/man cave, but I wasn't pulling them off the shelf. As a matter of fact, it got to a point that I wouldn't even touch my turntables at home. I know it sounds crazy, but I had lost my passion for music.

In Part VII (The Final Chapter), old school parties rekindle my interest in DJ'ing, YouTube videos reinvigorate my passion for crate digging and the birth of the Soul Latineers.

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