How I Spent My Summer Vacation

By shane

So... where have I been?

I’ve actually been getting e-mails to that effect, which creeps me out, ‘coz it makes me feel like I’ve actually got fans and then my head starts to swell. Which is a condition that, despite the momentary fun, is easily remedied by taking one step out of my apartment and seeing Iowa in the distance. The end game is, no one can be cool when they live where I live, so I’ll feel free to tread the self-deprecating path until people finally agree with me that I truly am little more than an insignificant ant in the schism we call Earth.

That said, since my ego’s in overdrive as is, I do feel that a bit of an apology is in order to the throngs of indie-babes who hang on my every word. (And, by the way, in my pathetic dream world, you all look like Thora Birch crossed with Anna Paquin, with your hair all done up and held in place with tons of those cute little plastic whatchajiggers, but that’s besides the point.)

But yeah, I’ve been absent for a while. From the site, from the mailing list, from this column. And for that I do honestly apologize. I wish I had a “cool” answer for you. I’d like to tell you I was busy fielding offers from labels who were so impressed with “Intertwined” that they want me as an A&R rep. I’d like to tell you I’m studying ancient religion in Tibet to find the “real me.” I’d like to tell you I’m actually the bassist in The Strokes, and I’ve been gone because NME has made me the new poster-boy for indie cool. (Okay, let’s be honest, if I was the bassist for the Strokes, I wouldn’t have time to be an NME posterboy because I’d be too busy trying to stick my head in nearby ovens because I’d realize that my band SUCKS ASS.)

Truth be told, there’s only one not-too-altogether-exciting reason why I’ve all but disappeared: I’ve spent the last few months helping a friend open up a dance club in town. And I’m now the featured attraction at said dance club on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s right, kids, I’ve officially become NOBILITY – no more am I merely Shane Brown… I am now henceforth to be known as DJ Shane Brown!

And with such a prestigious title come all the perks you’d possibly imagine! Let’s see…

  1. I’ve altogether lost whatever social life I once had…
  2. The bags under my eyes have become two-fold…
  3. I’m broke because all my money is now going to pay for some of the worst music imaginable…
  4. Oh, and a quasi-ugly drunk girl stuck her tongue in my ear last night when I leaned over to hear her request.

So yes, folks, I’m living the high life.


You know what I found out? I’m actually not half bad at mixing rap tunes. We’ve got one of them fancy CD players that has a pitch control on it, and I’ve adjusted to it fairly well. I used to be able to mix vinyl passably… back in the day when the vinyl I was mixing was Depeche Mode into Erasure into the Pet Shop Boys.

But times are a-changin’, and all the little kiddies want their hippity-hop now. And, lo, I’m pretty good at mixing it.

One little problem.


Rather, I DIDN’T know any of it. Six months ago, I wouldn’t have known Ja Rule if he came up behind me and popped a cap in my ass. Now, he’s like my best 92 bpm friend.

I haven’t bought anything good in fucking ages. Every week, I’m off to… (gasp)… THE MALL to see what new Mariah Carey remixes the new day has brought us. I actually GOT EXCITED by a bootleg remix of “Because I Got High.” I used the word “slammin’” in a conversation the other day.


But, before I seek that help, let’s talk about a few observations I’ve made about the world of commercial dance clubs:

  1. My town certainly ain’t no Chicago. When we first opened the joint, I had full and total intentions of turning the place into a strictly commercial club and progressive house outfit. You might think to yourself, “That’s a no-brainer, Shane. What else would you possibly play in a dance club?” Well, I quickly found that out when, on our opening night, a floor of people stood motionless and confused while I was starting off. One girl made her way through the throng and timidly approached me. She looked at me with that come-hither look, smiled coyly, batted her eyes, and screamed, “STOP PLAYING THIS TECHNO SHIT!” Yes, everyone loves a good DJ. And the best part of the story? The “techno shit” I was playing? Madonna. “What It Feels Like for a Girl.” The album version.
  2. Speaking of techno shit, the one piece of techno shit that the kiddies want to hear, is, in fact, a load of techno shit. I’m speaking, of course, of the song “Sandstorm” by Darude. Has there EVER been a more annoying song? EVER? Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo. DEE. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo. Doo-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-doo. Doo-doo-DEE. Doo-doo-DEE. Doo-doo-DEE. Dooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Try humming THAT in the shower. Try having THAT invade your every waking moment, creeping up in the background of your brain as a constant reminder that all music outside The Smiths tends to suck. Lots. And the absolute best part? NOT ONE PERSON IN MY TOWN KNOWS THE NAME OF THAT SONG. Yet that doesn’t stop them from requesting it, no sir. “Hey man, can you play that one that goes doo-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-doo.” Yep, “Sandstorm” isn’t half as annoying as hearing Joe Q. Public hum you a karaoke rendition of it. Or don’t forget my personal favorite: “Hey, man, can you play that one song? You know, the one that ain’t got no words?” To which I want to respond, “Sure, you must mean Godspeed You Black Emporer! I’ll get that right on!” Perhaps Axel F. Or the Theme From Miami Vice. I’m sure it must be one of those.
  3. Could there be a more annoying song than “Sandstorm”? YES. And it’s called the Cha-Cha Slide. Now, I’ll be honest with you. I tend to think of myself as somewhat well-versed in the world of music. I tend to keep up with even music that I hate, just ‘cause I’m addicted to music culture. Yet somehow the Cha-Cha Slide had escaped me. I had never even heard OF this abomination until I started at the club. Now I have to play it twice a night. Ever heard it? In case you haven’t, it goes a little something like this: STEP ONE. Take a drum machine and set it to 126 bpm. STEP TWO: Whatever you do, don’t add ANY more music to the track. STEP THREE: Go get your neighbor. STEP FOUR: Have your neighbor say a few choice commands into a microphone over the drum track. PRESTO! You’ve just created your very own line dance. You may now retire. Seriously, it’s that fucking awful. I sincerely hope that the parties responsible for this track are seeing absolutely NO fucking money from it, because if that guy gets paid for owning a Casio keyboard and I have to work 40 hours a week, there’s truly no justice in life. Maybe you’ve all heard this track, and I’m like floating in Pop Culture limbo. If you haven’t been exposed to this nightmare, though, listen to the great lyrics: “To the left… to the right… take it back now, y’all… one hop this time… one hop this time… slide to the left… slide to the right… criss-cross… cha-cha, now, y’all… every-body-clap-yo-hands.” And it carries on for the better part of 7 hours. It’s like music for people who thought the Electric Slide was too challenging. And I’ll guarantee you, even the most soulless sports hero could put out a track of better quality than this – this cut makes the “Superbowl Shuffle” sound like it was produced by Phil Spector himself. So… I’ve got a plan, and I’ll let anybody in who wants in. I want to write and produce my own line dance. Who’s with me? I’ve got the crappy drum machine, which means all we need is somebody to rap a few lines of commands – we’ll be stars, I guarantee it. As is, what I’d really like to do is loop the Cha-Cha beat and stick in a few commands of my own, just to see how long it’d take for the lemmings to realize what was going on. My idea is to just extend the original a bit: “Take it back now, y’all… one hop this time… eighty-four hops this time… slide to the right… put your left foot in… shake it all about… turn yourself around… now touch your butt… everybody wipe your ass!”
  4. My new best friend is a bloke I’ve never met before. His name is DJ Larry D., and you can find him at This guy, an amateur DJ and producer from the East Coast, makes some of the best promo unauthorized DJ mixes I’ve ever heard. His small-scale operation puts out mixes that blow away any of the usual quasi-expensive promo remix services (Ultimix, X-Mix, etc.) You can find much of his work up on the usual Internet haunts, so the next time you’re in a bind and need a good mix of Jay-Z or Janet Jackson, look him up. Mad props to Larry D.
  5. “Girls and Boys” by Blur gets requested by gay men and foreign exchange students alike.
  6. “Bust a Move” and “Groove is in the Heart” mix together rather well.
  7. I now get excited by finding out things like “Bust a Move” and “Groove is in the Heart” mixing together well.

So, hey, that’s it – My Pathetic Life, Vol. 8. I’ve gotta go find some “ho to carry my records into the club this weekend.” And hey, while I’m at it, maybe I’ll finally get a chance to listen to that Stereolab record...

Peace, I’m out. (That’s hip DJ talk for, “Goodbye.”) And I WILL be back next month. If not, you can officially start throwing weighty painful objects at me.