Pursuit of Happy(i)ness
This is a picture from my first ever live club gig. Up until this point, I had only spun in my dorm room and at a handful of house parties. To make this milestone even more tricky, I had never actually felt a vinyl record slide across my fingers outside of a few tutorials from DJ Pete Avila (I taught myself to DJ on Pioneer CDJs) and I was now tasked with setting the vibe in the front room of a Big Game after-party (see flyer below).
Let’s hop back to the day leading up to this event. On Friday, November 30th, 2007 at around 4pm I was ready to get my weekend started. I was eager to attend Big Game, reunite with friends and cheer my team on as they attempted to reclaim The Axe from our rival UC Berkeley. As I packed up my bags, a VP peeked into my office and informed me of a deal that we were bidding on and noted that he wanted me to be the associate on the deal team. We needed to perform due diligence and make a competitive bid within the week; and so started the longest month of my entire life.
On Saturday, December 1st, I roll out of my Oakland apartment and get geared up in my alma mater’s swag, but I’m not heading to Palo Alto. I’m heading into the office to learn everything I can about the US coal industry. I proceeded to work from close to 9am - 3pm doing research, typing memos, making charts, etc. A friend scoops me up from the office on his way down to Palo Alto where I proceed to watch all but the final five minutes of the game…why? Because, I had to get on the train back to SF to open my set for the after party. But first, I spent about 45 minutes in the office trying to bang out my portion of an investment thesis on Powder River Basin coal.
Once showtime hit I was nervous as all hell…more nervous that I had ever been playing football in front of tens of thousands of people. I was not the main DJ, but was commissioned to set the vibe for the front room. I hadn’t yet figured out how to record my live sets, but a few of the transitions I made that evening can be found in this mix I recorded about a month later -
The feedback from this gig was all the motivation I needed to continue to pursue DJing and started a consistent run of gigs in SF bars and clubs through the mid-late ‘00s.
After collecting my fee, I arrived back home in the East Bay at close to 4am, slept for three hours, and proceeded back to the office in SF. Up until the week of Christmas, I stayed in the office until 2am daily and earned a right of passage for sleeping under my desk rather than returning home one evening, which led me to the conclusion that this was not the life I wanted to lead. Having a job that provided me with the flexibility to enjoy additional pursuits had proven to be very important to me, and after Dec 1st it was confirmed that I LOVED to DJ in front of live audiences.
Fast forward to today as I carted my turntables and mixer down to a basement storage locker, my priorities have obviously changed. I have changed to a job that affords me with time for a life outside of the office, but the beat-matching, cutting and scratching has been replaced with diaper changes, picnics and weekend planning. I can honestly say that I’ve never been more happy and I owe that to my lovely wife and our amazing son.