My DJ debut in Palo Alto had been in the works since I DJed at The Switch in San Francisco in July last year, where Lori Taniguchi was the emcee who announced me and we immediately became best friends. (If you’ve met Lori, you can understand why this would be the case. If you haven’t met Lori, suffice it to say that you need to meet her ASAP.)
The first half of my set focused on warming up the floor and offering a variety of tempos for folks to play with.
This particular Wednesday Night Hop had a good contingent of folks who enjoyed fast Lindy, so I played with some songs in the 170-200 range, including “Neal’s Deal” by the Boilermaker Jazz Band (of course! I love them!), “Basie Boogie” by Count Basie and His Orchestra, “Early Morning Rock” by Johnny Hodges, and “AC-DC Current” by the Benny Goodman Sextet (a piece I don’t hear often enough on the dance floor, considering its amazing Charlie Christian solos).
Just before the announcements break and jam circle, I played “Snatch and Grab It” by Julia Lee, a tongue-in-cheek piece that is definitely about opportunity (really, trust me, it’s definitely not about butts at all). I was introduced to the song through this routine by the St. Louis Live Wires, which speaks for itself:
I need to tell you about Wednesday Night Hop’s amazing jam circle! During the first part of my set, they left a piece of paper on the DJ table with three columns: Name, Celebration, and Role. People kept walking up and writing things down, and I was so curious what it was all about – what would they do?
Before the jam (what would normally be a birthday jam in other scenes), the announcer went out in the middle of the circle with this magic piece of paper, and started reading off people’s celebrations.
It sounded like this: “Jamie is celebrating that they just sent their first novel to the publisher! Jamie is both leading and following tonight!” or “Kay is celebrating that she got accepted into a masters program! Kay would like to lead tonight!”
Y’all, I loved it. It was such a good way to build community by getting to know what different people in the scene were up to, and it helped to clearly state and respect people’s role preferences. They were even nice enough to stick me in the jam since I was there for the first time! (Thanks to everyone who danced with me!)
After the jam, I continued my set with some more favorites from Johnny Hodges, including a light but peppy version of “I’m Beginning to See the Light” that features Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano, and “Duke’s In Bed,” an energetic song with a driving call-response between Hodges’ saxophone and the rest of the brass section.
I ended my set with a new-to-me version of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” with Joe Williams and Count Basie. I’m normally not a huge synth fan, but this track has the perfect amount of light, ethereal synth. It perfectly complements Joe Williams’ warm, syncopated vocals. I can’t get enough!
DJing at Wednesday Night Hop was a rad time. Their jam circle was an outstanding example of using an existing dance tradition, the birthday jam, to build a sense of community and inclusivity. Thanks for having me, Palo Alto, and I hope I get to come back soon!