The Unbearable Lightness of Being A Club DJ

Tonight is my last night spinning at NOX, a weekly club night I founded about a year and a half ago. The event hosted by The Highdive featured myself and two other DJs (who are continuing on after I leave) spinning all sorts of “dark” music. From the ethereal to the electronic, from thundering guitars to pounding drum-machines. It has been a very religious (or spiritual if you prefer) experience.

In the wonderful book “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” the authors posit that for the modern age it is the dance floors that are the true churches in America and that dancing, music and community the only real lasting faith since the dawn of man. In these “churches” are the shamans or priests who keep the rhythm going, who read the energy of the crowd and prompt them to even greater heights of ecstasy and tribal union, the DJ.

Anyone who has watched a floor fill up with people dancing to the music you are playing will know of what I speak. There is a “rush” and a connection that is sublime and powerful. These dance-floor cultures are so pervasive because it is religion that gives the “carrot” of a shared (often spiritual) experience with no attending “stick” of eternal damnation or outdated moral codes. Which is why the guardians of mainstream culture has always felt threatened by these events and have worked diligently to legislate them out of existence.

Indeed, my first “live” event was an all-ages monthly event held first in a local Indymedia center and then later at a Unitarian Church both venues were shut down due to people with personal objections scouring the laws to find a way to shut down the spaces.

My tenure at this current event has been a good one. The community worked to support the event and it became one the biggest weekday draws the club had seen. We hosted bands that we liked, I got to spin at one of America’s biggest Goth events, and I got to see people come out every week and dance. It fed my spirit and taught me a lot about community and living a life devoted to spirit.

In the end, the music isn’t my own (just as a preachers words belong to God) I am but a conductor, or in the immortal words of John Peel an editor.

“[DJ’ing is] like being the editor of a newspaper – you don’t claim credit for the news.”

I am glad to have delivered the “good news” for this long, and perhaps someday soon I’ll find a way to “minister” once more (hopefully in an all-ages setting again). In the meantime I’ll content myself with my radio show and writing about music with a Pagan bent.

Jason Pitzl-Waters