Tesco Value Headphones

Our potentially award-winning columnist is not easily impressed. He is, in fact, easily unimpressed. Ask him about DJs these days. Go on, ask him and see what happens. And yes, that is prune juice on his cardigan

Illustration: STEVE APPLETON

See that anaemic drip of a DJ on stage? The one with the Tesco Value headphones around his scrawny neck? Look at him dribbling onto his laptop as he pretends to beat-match. He’s pressing all the keyboard buttons: the space bar, the left cursor, the one to do with scrolling. As he prods “play” on the DJ software, his face screws up in concentration like a perished balloon.

See that feeble spittle of a kid on stage? That’s what DJing is now. A withered, gawping grunt armed with little more than a workable PC and a Spotify Premium account. These young DJs using laptops? They make me sick.

Despite the fact I now own a rocking chair, a prune-juiced cardigan and a stack of VHS recordings of ‘Countryfile’, I used to be a DJ.

A proper DJ. One with Sennheiser headphones and metal record boxes and pockets full of jack adaptors. I had a pair of Technics 1210s and a Vestax mixer so robust you could drop it into the seventh circle of hell and it would still crank out the decibels.

I was always that weird kid stood behind the megastar DJ at club nights. Hovering, watching, sucking in the talent with my bloodshot glare. I’d tried my shaky hand at CD decks – they were all the rage in the late 90s – but always found them clumsy and dumb, like trying to DJ with a Chuckle Brother puppet on each hand. I found mixing with vinyl to be pleasingly tactile. A gentle push to speed things up, a tap to slow it down, a careful brush to keep the beat locked in. It’s a beautiful skill to learn. Unless some idiot is deliberately flicking your needle (not a euphemism) or flopping their boobs (not a euphemism) on to the record, both of which happened to me more than once.

I retired from DJing to write. I just lost the energy. I am old, my body is shrivelled, my innards hang out of my sunken face. These days, my DJing consists of me in my bedroom clicking YouTube playlists and waging comment wars with random teenagers: “This is POST-dubstep, you knobscratch”. I sit there dribbling, pressing all the buttons, face scrunched in concentration. I have become a withered, gawping grunt armed with little more than a workable PC and a YouTube account.

Anyway, back to those young DJs using laptops. Jeez, they make me sick.

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