DJing a Halloween Loft Party in Midtown

tonight i am DJing a loft party in midtown for halloween and on the subway ride here there was a zombie sitting next to me playing solitaire on her iPod nano, a samurai trying to secure his sword to his belt by tying it up with excess fabric, and two Nicki Minajes with pink wigs and pink eyelashes dancing on those poles on subway cars that you hold on to so you don’t fall down when the train lurches. right now i am in the loft setting my computer up and one of the organizers is off somewhere getting me a cable to connect my hard drive to my computer because i forgot mine at home. they hired security guards for this party and one of them is standing about a hundred feet away from me by the back door, arms folded and feet spread apart, already in position even though nobody is here yet except the staff. my friend angelica who came with me is picking some choice candy for us out of the big candy bowl near the bar, i told her i don’t want any of those off-brand hard candies or assorted-color tootsie rolls that i only see around halloween, you know what i’m talking about

all day i thought about wearing a costume for this and me and angelica walked around downtown looking for something good but i couldn’t find anything. angelica is Brigitte Bardot. i can’t wear anything extravagant on my head because i have to keep taking off the headphones and putting them back on, or anything cumbersome on my arms because i have to use them a lot, so i am just wearing a hunting shirt and if anybody asks i will say i am a hunter but i hope nobody asks because this is a lame costume. i was also thinking of dressing my mac up like a PC for halloween, sort of like how people dress up their dogs, by going to an internet coffee shop and peeling those stickers that say INTEL INSIDE or PENTIUM IV or MADE FOR WINDOWS XP off a computer tower and sticking them onto the bottom left corner of my macbook, below the keyboard, but then we didn’t pass any internet coffee shops so i didn’t do that either

i have never been an enthusiastic halloween celebrator and in college my girlfriend loved halloween and always wanted it to be an amazing day and it was always a disappointment and was a really unpleasant day so i started to hate it. so now i have a grudge against it but tonight i will try to make peace with it. i guess halloween is the first leg of the Holiday Relationship Marathon and if your relationship is showing signs of stress tonight then you might be at like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf status after Thanksgiving. or maybe not and it’s true love, who knows. mike says the best thing about holidays is that they make you thankful for days that aren’t holidays

anyway the party organizer came back with the hard drive cable and i set my stuff up. the room is really big, maybe the size of one and a half basketball courts and it is maybe the biggest room i have ever played so i am nervous. there are halloween decorations along the walls, and couches, and there is a bar in the opposite corner of the room, maybe 125 feet away from me, and the DJ table is set up on what looks like a green screen stage except instead of a green screen, there is a white screen with fake blood splattered all over it. one of the organizers sent me a picture after he set it up this afternoon, he was so excited about it, here is that picture:

right now the lights are very dim and i am standing behind that table typing this. angelica is standing next to me and she is texting her friend Katy to come to this party. the organizer who brought me the hard drive cable is a pig for halloween and he put his pig nose on and looked at me and said “this sucks, i can’t do coke with the pig nose on!” and then he giggled and said “just kidding” but me and angelica were not sure if he was kidding. and then this other organizer came up to us and said “so people are starting to get here — could you start playing?” but it’s only 9:36 and i’m not supposed to start playing until 10:30! it’s like how sometimes i get to work like 25 minutes early so i can eat my yogurt and granola at my desk and then ten minutes later my boss gives me an assignment and i wanna be like “look i’m not even technically supposed to be here yet, just let me just enjoy my breakfast in peace!” but obviously i don’t say anything like that to my boss because this isn’t really the right time to get canned i think

anyway i was just planning to relax and not have to worry about picking songs for another hour because DJing for 6 or 7 consecutive hours is hard, like some nights you feel like you’ve been playing songs for a long time and then you look at the clock and it’s not even midnight yet and you’re like “fuck this night is gonna go on forever”, but the organizer seemed adamant, so i am playing Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones which is actually a great first song to play, i just realized that when Mick Jagger said “allow me to introduce myself, i’m a man of wealth and taste”, and also the song is topical now because it’s in the trailer for Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

now there are maybe 6 people here, it’s 10:15, and some of the organizers are standing around the DJ booth and chatting. one of them notes that the strobe light next to me isn’t really strobing that much and someone else says “it strobes to the beat”, which is true, it’s not strobing that fast because i am playing a slower song, Mambo Sun by T. Rex

another organizer brings over a bag and lays it near my feet and i say “what’s in that?” and he says “an extra fog machine” and i say “damn i didn’t even know we had a first fog machine” and he picks up a little remote control off the edge of the DJ table, the remote has a switch on it, and he hands it to me and tells me to press down the switch and then fog starts pouring out of a little metal box on the ground near one of the speakers! he says “go nuts with the fog machine, we bought a lot of fog cartridges” and he points to the plastic bag and then walks away and i show angelica how to use it

i’ve never had a fog machine at my disposal before and i am wondering if there is any technique to using it, like do you want to keep up a constant level of fog or have foggy times and unfoggy times? obviously you don’t want to overfog and then people can’t breathe or someone has an asthma attack, but you don’t want to underfog because it’s halloween and like how often do you have a fog machine you know? ugh i hope no one is allergic to the artificial fog and i wind up sending them to the hospital, it would be like the opposite of that song Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life

also that reminds me that last weekend i visited elizabeth at her artists’ colony in upstate New York and we had a free afternoon so we went to the New York State Miilitary Museum or something like that and learned about chemical warfare in World War I and how soldiers tried to smoke their enemies out of their trenches and apparently there were chemical weapons that froze underground in the winter of 1917 that thawed out and killed a lot of people during the spring of 1918

anyway now it is later and there are more people here, the room is full but sparsely full, not like packed, but most people are standing by the bar and drinking and talking and i am playing Beach Party by Air France. it is still warm-up time. sometimes when i am warming up the crowd with songs that you can either dance to or chat to, i think of that scene in American Pie 2 where Jason Biggs visits the girl that he slept with in the first movie at band camp and she tells him, as a sexual innuendo about getting a woman aroused, that you “have to preheat the oven before you stick in the turkey, silly!”. i am playing A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill by Jens Lekman to preheat the oven of dancing

after a few minutes, two girls come over to the dancefloor and start dancing and i am glad there are people dancing now. angelica notices them too and sees me smiling. whenever i am DJing i wish i could hand a trophy to the first people who start dancing because sometimes that’s a tough seal to break. it takes guts to be the first people dancing i think

one of the girls dancing is wearing round glasses and a shirt that says NEW YORK CITY so i think she is John Lennon because sidewalk vendors on Broadway sell a picture of John Lennon wearing that same shirt so i’m almost positive she’s John Lennon. angelica tells me that the other girl who is dancing with the John Lennon is Lady Gaga, which was hard to discern because she is wearing only a black bra with rhinestones and spandex shorts from American Apparel and spike heels. when i am thinking about how peoples’ halloween costumes might be indecent, it makes me feel like Ned Flanders. angelica points out that she’s also wearing black tape over her nipples. angelica presses the fog machine button

now it is 11:14. i played Ching-A-Ling by Missy Elliott which didn’t hit, and i realized what is wrong with that song which is the same thing that is wrong with Get Like Me by David Banner which is that the chorus is such a fucking jam that the verses just sound weak in comparison and you have to wait for the verses to end before you can start dancing to the choruses again, but by the time the chorus comes back you’ve already endured like 45 seconds of music that’s hard to dance to so you went to the bar

i play Southern Hospitality by Ludacris which is dark and thumping and then This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody) by Talking Heads, the live version off Stop Making Sense, which is effervescent compared to Southern Hospitality and i hope people got a kick out of the juxtaposition of those songs but i don’t think anyone noticed. sometimes when i am feeling stressed out about playing a song that i am not sure will work, whoever is hanging out with me says something like “nobody is paying as close attention to this as you are david, don’t worry about it”

then a kid comes over to me and yells, because the music is really loud now because the room is almost full and it’s hard to hear in the back, “ARE YOU GONNA PLAY ANY HOUSE MUSIC?” and i yell back “NO! SORRY!” and he makes a sour face and yells “WHY NOT?” and i scream “I JUST DON’T WANT TO!! BUT THE NEXT ONE IS FOR YOU!” and he walks away and i play Candy by Mandy Moore

a few minutes later a kid who is dressed as an escaped convict in an orange jumpsuit comes over to me with a megaphone, i don’t know where he got a megaphone, and someone bumps him and he drops his drink onto the floor next to me and it splashes onto my backpack and i look at him like “what the hell dude!!” and he looks really drunk and his eyes are glazed over and he goes “relax bro, it’s gone”, meaning no use crying over his spilled cocktail, and then he starts singing along to Still Fly by Big Tymers into the megaphone but he is really drunk so he is slurring the lyrics and his timing is really off. i think it is unbecoming for a man to be this drunk in public, angelica says men who are this drunk are really creepy. i hand him the fog machine controller thingy to try to distract him, and plus i should be fogging more anyway, and i look around for angelica to try to fend him off because i am trying to pick the next song but he keeps bumping into me because he can barely stand up. he bumps into the table and the mixer and surge protector almost slide off the table

he holds the smoke machine button down for like a minute and i can’t even see the people in front of me and then one of the security guards comes over to me, perhaps tipped off by this kid drunkenly screaming into a megaphone, and says “IS THIS GUY WITH YOU?” and i yell back “NO! I DON’T KNOW HIM” and the security guard drags him off, crisis averted!!!

it is packed and really hot now. i roll my sleeves up and i am sweating a little and my glasses got fogged up so i took them off and then put them back on a minute ago. the organizers said they would have around 400 people but i have played in rooms that fit 400 people and i think there are more people than that in this room. the lady gaga girl is still dancing like three feet in in front of the DJ booth. i wonder if she is on ecstasy because she looks like she’s, ummm, lost in the music as Lil Wayne would say. i am playing A Milli by Lil Wayne and everyone is rapping along. a zombie has his hands in the air. a female jungle cat, maybe a lion or a tiger, just took a pill out of a Tarzan’s hand and downed it with a clear cocktail. a girl with a neon wig on is grinding against Elvis i think. i play The Monster Mash and a lot of people do that dance that Uma Thurman and John Travolta do at the diner in Pulp Fiction where you stick your arms out like dinosaur arms and bend your knees and swivel your torso

one of the organizers comes up to me and says “there’s a line around the block!! and they just closed the doors!!!!” and i look at the clock and it is 12:39 which means i have been doing this for three hours and i have at least three hours to go. the Lady Gaga kept bumping into the DJ table and making stuff slide around and like ten minutes ago one of my cables got knocked loose and the music stopped and people started booing but then i plugged it back in and people started dancing again and now angelica is dancing in front of the DJ booth to keep me company and prevent people from knocking the cables loose

one of the organizers ran over to me and said “THE COPS AND FIRE DEPARTMENT ARE HERE! TURN IT DOWN” and so i turned it to half-volume and people looked over to the DJ booth and stopped dancing again and booed again and i put my hands up in front of my shoulders with my palms facing upwards and shrugged and tried to make it look like i have no control over the situation and then a few minutes later he came back and said “okay they’re gone” and i put the volume back up and pressed the fog button for like 30 seconds and played Like A G6 by The Far East Movement, people really liked that one, maybe i will play it again later because it is really the jam of the moment and i think people would forgive me for playing the song twice if they like the song this much

a small girl with a costume i can’t identify asks me to play house music, i tell her i don’t want to play house music and she gives me a look and i yell “NOT THE RIGHT VIBE I THINK! TURN AROUND!!” and she turns around and looks at the crowd and it looks pretty raucous, now i am playing Every Girl by Young Money and i sang along when Wayne said “I LIKE A LONG HAIR THICK RED BONE” but then didn’t sing the next line because i would feel weird if someone looked over and saw me mouthing “open up her legs then filet mignon that pussy” and she says “okay i guess i understand…” and she walks away and i play Whip My Hair by Willow Smith and people really like this one too, i am on a little roll here

i am really sweaty now and probably very dehydrated. i wish i could get some water but it’s hard to leave my station and i don’t know if they’re dispensing water anyway, and also this girl who just whispered “i’m a personal trainer” into my ear and then turned my head with her hand and winked at me keeps bringing me beer. angelica’s friend is now standing near us in the DJ booth she said the girl who said she was a personal trainer went up to her and said “stay off my turf!!” meaning stay out of the DJ booth i think. i tell Katy to fend her off because i am trying to pick songs. Katy goes, “do you know that girl?” and i say “yeah she’s my psychotic ex-girlfriend!!” and Katy goes “really!??” and i say “jk i’ve actually never seen her before”

anyway i hope the people on ecstasy here are staying adequately hydrated. man i sound like my mom! today my mom texted me “Don’t drink 4 Loko” because i think she read the New York Times article about kids having adverse reactions to that drink and i texted her back “okay i won’t”

the Lady Gaga comes up to me and yells “WHEN ARE YOU GONNA PLAY BAD ROMANCE!!”, which i like because it presumes that i will definitely be playing that song, and i yell back “IT’S STILL EARLY” and i point out that it’s 1:31 on my computer screen, and also i am not sure if i am feeling Bad Romance right now, and she says “FUCKING PLAY IT ALREADY!! I GOTTA CATCH THE FUCKING NJT TRAIN” and NJT stands for New Jersey Transit. a few songs later i play it and she shrieks

i feel guilty and like a pervert looking at the Lady Gaga girl, wearing just a bra and spandex shorts, even though she has been dancing right in front of the DJ booth for three hours. i went to a strip club this summer and i felt the same way, like at any moment a stripper would look at me and realize “whoa i am naked and this weird guy is staring at me” so i try to avert my eyes and i wonder what the Lady Gaga would think if she looked over and saw me looking at her. like i know her costume is made to look at but maybe it would be like she wakes up in a bad dream where she’s almost naked and people are staring at her except it’s reality. she would probably wish she was Barney the purple dinosaur or a refrigerator or something, instead of a girl in a bra. a chubby guy dressed as a football player standing against the wall looks mesmerized by her, his mouth is open a little and he hasn’t moved in 2 songs

one of the organizers comes up to me and says “YOU’RE NOT USING THE FOG MACHINE ENOUGH” and i say “OKAY SORRY I WAS WORKING ON THE MUSIC! I’LL FOG MORE THOUGH! I DON’T WANNA BE, YOU KNOW, A NEGLIGENT FOGGER!!!”, i think that’s a funny phrase, and he laughs and i smile and he says “AND ALSO I WANTED TO TELL YOU THAT MULTIPLE PEOPLE ARE GETTING NAKED ON THE DANCEFLOOR” and i look up and he is right. then someone hands me a visa card that someone else dropped and tells me to make an announcement about it, but then one of the organizers takes it off my computer when he walks past the DJ booth a few seconds later. if you are reading this, Melissa Grbic, i hope you got your card back and there were no unauthorized charges on it

it is 2:57 now. the Lady Gaga girl hasn’t left yet, still dancing the night away, even though she said she had to catch a train like two hours ago. everyone looks pretty drunk and there are people making out along the walls. i am playing You Can’t Hurry Love by The Supremes and the bass is rumbling. the girlfriend of one of the hosts is crying and her boyfriend is consoling her and i feel bad, it reminds me of my own sad halloweens, and also i text elizabeth to tell her i miss her but she doesn’t text back so i guess she is sleeping, or i hope she is anyway!!! and then angelica says “maybe that girl’s on drugs?” referring to the crying girl on the dancefloor. then angelica says that the Lady Gaga girl asked her if she was a lesbian!

another kid comes up to me and says “YO I KNOW YOU MAN” and i make a quizzical face and wait a second for him to explain and he says “I HELPED YOU WITH YOUR ECON FINAL A COUPLE YEARS AGO” and i realize that it’s this kid who helped me with a take-home economics exam in college that i ended up not doing that well on, but probably my fault more than his, and i say “OH HEY MAN HOW’S IT GOING?!!!” and he says it’s going well and then starts dancing again

now it is 4:27 and i think i have had maybe too much to drink but i feel okay. i am happy that people have been dancing a lot and usually when i DJ and people don’t like a song i play it sends me into a panic but tonight i tried to not panic and it worked. the organizers just paid me so i am free to go. at 3:54 i played what was supposed to be my last song, Will You Be There by Michael Jackson, but the room was still mostly full and people were still dancing hard so i kept going but now my head hurts and i am so dehydrated i am not even sweating anymore and i have been DJing for 7 hours and now i think it’s time to go so i’m gonna play Walk of Life by Dire Straits and then leave! also i forgot to mention this but to the dude who requested Justin Timberlake and the girl who asked for Daft Punk, sorry i never got around to playing that stuff but you guys were both making out with people so i assume hearing songs by those people wasn’t really crucial to your success tonight!! okay happy halloween bye

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"David Shapiro" is 22 and lives in New York City and has a Tumblr.