I was in over my head as a DJ.
|1 Hour until guests arrive
It was only upon arrival that the thought crossed my mind..
I had just parked outside a hotel in downtown Columbus, and I was early. I felt calm. It was my first real DJ gig in public, a fancy charity event for about ~75–125 people that was $100 a ticket to get into.
In my car, I was doing a bit of mental contrasting..I pictured everyone at the venue LOVING it. Cheers, applause, people telling me great job. Then I pictured the opposite. Everyone hating everything I did, boos’, and the breaking of 1,000 relationships in a single night.
This is a technique I’ve learned from Chris. At the end you picture yourself being OK with either outcome. No matter what happens you’re still fine.
I was feeling that good calm from the practice when the thought hit me.
“I wonder if they already set up the sound system for me?”
“Oh shit, I have ZERO idea how speaker systems work.”
| 45 min until guests arrive
Upon arriving inside, this worry had come true. There was an assortment of bags, speakers, cables, power strips strewn around the ballroom floor. While staring at the pile of foreign objects in front of me, somewhere in the blurred atmosphere outside of my peripheral vision I heard a murmur of
“Oh good the DJ is here, go ahead and get set up so we can sound check.”
Because, I’m the DJ… and I’m here to do my job… which includes knowing how these things work. My heartbeat picked up a bit as my palms began to sweat.
Trying to hold it together, and not in a total panic just yet, I did what most smart people would do in this situation; I started trying to assemble every piece at random hoping I might get lucky in connecting things correctly.
I was like a space-monkey playing with new toys in his enclosure. Testing and seeing if the male part of one item went into the female part of the other. Then male to male and every such combination.
I was.. a progressive space-monkey.
| 30 Minutes until guests arrive.
Good news. Somehow by sheer volume of science experiments and pure I’m-totally-fucked determination, I had figured out a setup wherein the speaker on the left side of the stage was working correctly, as was the subwoofer at center stage. So there was sound, but it was incomplete. I remember part of me wondering if I could still somehow back out of this. What could I say? Could I just run out while spitting out “grandma” “hospital” “homework” “dog” in hopes I’d be forgiven? There was a lesson in this moment somewhere but it was no time for learning. This was a time to make shit happen to save my ass.
“Hey, can you get these two microphones set up? I want to give a speech before you go on to thank everyone for coming out.”
This task I performed surprisingly quickly. Hooking the microphone up to the back of the speaker to the right, I tested it “pfffpp check, check” and had good sound. Taking stock of things, I had sound coming out from my mixer (DJ setup) to the left speaker and the sub in the middle. No sound from the right side, which was noticeable by the audience, but not no music, which would be worse.
| 15 minutes until guests arrive
I AM EINSIEN REINCARNATED. I AM MATT DAMON WORKING AS A JANITOR BUT SECRETLY A WUNDERKIND.
The breakthrough idea was that the working microphone from the right speaker could be used to amplify the sound from the left. So I took the mic stand, and set it up pointing towards the left speaker with the microphone set to “on.” That way, when the sound was played out of the left speaker, it would go out the left, into the microphone, then produced out of the right speaker.
Standing in the middle of the room, aside from a mic set up pointing directly at the left speaker, there was no delay, no feedback noise, or any way for the audience to know that the sound wasn’t working correctly.
| 5 min until music begins
With the mic working, the sound appearing to people as normal, and the room buzzing with guests greeting each other and sipping on cocktails, I felt a sigh of relief. I was due to begin in a few minutes, as soon as the event organizers speech ended. For which the mics were working and the sound was functional. Everyone was in a cheerful mood, they had just raised $10,000 for charity and it was time to have some fun.
…It was right then that I noticed that my mixers USB cable was no longer fully connecting to my laptop…**
Start before you’re ready.
**Miraculously everything powered up the moment it needed to. Set went OK, and I only had one lady ask me to play Maroon 5!