Mobile DJ Tales – Episode 1: My First Gig

Posted: July 1, 2013 in Storytime
Tags: , , , ,

From April 22, 1987 to December 31, 1994, I was in the interesting business of being a mobile DJ. Not tied to a radio station or a club, I packed up my music and equipment into a station wagon and traveled to wherever the event was being held, by contract only, set my stuff up, played music and acted as M.C. for four to five hours, then knocked it all down and stuffed it back into my car, and back home I went.

Just to get my feet wet, I did my very first gig for $60. It was a three hour 35th wedding anniversary party for Bill and Claire Guay (yikes, he still remembers their names!). If they’re still alive, Bill and Claire have been married now for 61 years – how cool would that be? I didn’t yet have my own equipment or music, so I borrowed my dad’s (he was and still is a mobile DJ). He also accompanied me along on the job … in fact, he drove me to it, since I was only 15 and lacking a license 🙂

I remember being very nervous about being on the microphone for the first time. I had done it before while helping my dad out, and my first two experiences were horrible. For some reason, I was afraid to speak in public. The first time I tried, I spoke so softly that no one actually heard me (“Phone call for Steve Buote” – how hard is that?), and the second time, my voice cracked while I called tables 10 and 11 to the buffet (dammit!). But this time, it was my own gig, and I think I had worked myself up for weeks beforehand regarding the first thing to actually say. Turns out it was “Happy Anniversary, Bill and Claire!” Original, I know.

Before dinner was served, there was the standard toast by the best man, and then one of the people in the group was going to say grace. Sometimes they ask the DJ to say it, but in this case, they had a minister or someone in the crowd who was prepared. His name was Bill Mooney. After the toast, it made sense for me to say something like “And now, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to call upon Bill Mooney to say grace before the meal.” Or something similarly normal. Instead, I choked and said “And now … grace by Bill Mooney!” as if Bill were going to don Elvis garb, take the stage, and sing it for us. My dad even heard someone in the crowd turn to his wife and incredulously ask “Grace by Bill Mooney?”

There was a buffet, and this particular buffet was the same selection no matter which corner of the buffet table you started at – once you got to the middle, you had seen everything. Efficient, I guess. So the caterer explained that to me, and in all my 15-year-old-ness, I was too scared to tell the guests (some M.C., huh?). My dad came to the rescue and offered to let the crowd in on the great buffet secret.

Besides those two flubs, the only other thing I remember is, about 2/3 of the way through The Hustle, I accidentally hit rewind on the CD player, which restarted The Hustle. Now, that’s a line dance, and the people who were dancing to it didn’t take too kindly to having it started over, so they left the dance floor, and I was not prepared to play another song. So I let it run – mistakes happen. I remember it to this day, so I think I’ve fulfilled my obligation to be sorry.

At the end of the gig, I got my $60, and I was officially on my way. You’re gonna love the next two gigs, both weddings … with class and style.



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