Witness the Club Artist Revolution

This month sees a radical experiment among our local champions. It’s the logical next step in a community that has been quietly on the move for years. We forgot about them for a while. I blame the advent of the mp3 player and its shuffle mode – the very same invention that’s led us to realize disc jockeys are more than just pancake flippers.

Many only have this epiphany over the empty dance floor at their wedding reception. Wikimedia

After all, they don’t lug around those giant decks (read: the table tops with the buttons and the spinnies) because they’re convenient and intuitive. It takes planning, focus, and a sense of timing – not to mention the ability to read a room – to deliver a successful set. With so much to think about, newcomers are easily overwhelmed by technical elements.

On top of that, the community – from professionals to amateurs – has sociopolitical problems typical of most celebrated industries. Surprise: it’s dominated by white males. Local music lovers are working to change that, though. With the help of Walking and Falling – a mentorship program based out of Chicago that hosts workshops for women-identifying and non-binary practitioners – area deejays aim to develop the balance of voices within the community.

Rozz-Tox plays host to a public meeting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 6. The purpose of the meeting is to structure QC’s own educational group for the community’s minorities. It will also serve to plan for the Walking and Falling workshop from 2-to-5 p.m. on Saturday, January 26.

The workshop will actually have equipment – digital and analog – and music for you to practice with courtesy of die-hard audiophiles who want nothing more than to build a world in their image. Yes – they will make you one of them. They will teach you the ways of the spinny table top.

Whether you’re just curious or determined to launch your career as the world’s foremost spin master since Rumsfeld, join us at 2108 3rd Avenue in Rock Island. This on-going program will cater to all skill levels, I assure you.

Dasha just started spinning a few months ago. Already an artist, she never deliberately set out to become a deejay. her introduction to and involvement in the community happened organically, after several Wednesdays at WAKE Brewing for their weekly Wax On Wax Off open-invitation vinyl session. This is where anyone can sign up to take a turn at the deck. Several of Dasha’s friends signed up regularly and encouraged her to try it out herself. In fact, she did write her name down a couple of times, but…

“I wussed out,” she told me.

I’ve can’t picture Dasha wussing out on something, but who wants to argue? It wasn’t until one Wednesday evening, after arriving home from WAKE, that she was inspired to make a playlist. It became a rough outline for a genre-based set.

“I didn’t have most of the records I needed,” she said of that first arrangement.

Fortunately, her friends were more than happy to let her rifle through their vinyl collections to find the albums she wanted. Remember those benevolent audiophiles lending their rigs to the workshop? They’ve been promoting the spirit of Walking and Falling’s mission for years through encouragement, education, and their passion for the craft. They will happily sit down and explain to you the origin and purpose of the dual turntable technique, traditionally linked to a Jamaican fellow named Count Machuki, who is best remembered as the world’s first superstar club deejay all the way back in the 1950s. (The term “disc jockey” itself was coined in 1935 by Walter Winchell, who is best remembered for being a tremendous asshole.)

Disc jockeys actually started calling themselves that as a middle finger to this dickbag.

This event is going to be so much fun. I’ve already started composing a playlist full of contemporary all-girl rap and punk acts.

Stick around after the workshop for a dance party. Deets coming soon.