As we ring in the New Year, I was alerted that a good friend had passed on. Joe was the owner of a nightclub where I played many weddings and dances. He was found dead in his nightclub following a sell out crowd the night before…at The Viking Lounge Annual New Years Eve Ball.Being a Disk Jockey, Joe was a mentor to me.
I began working as a mobile disk jockey back in the early 90’s. Armed with a few hundred tapes and CD’s, and an assortment of equipment, I thought I knew it all. This was, of course until I played my first dance. The truth was, I knew nothing. I showed up at the small nightclub known as The Viking Lounge. I set up my equipment and once the crowd had gathered, I began playing music. Thinking that I knew it all, I played the top 40 songs that our local AM radio station played, figuring that the floor would be packed, shoulder to shoulder. What ended up happening was a lot of jeering and screaming from the crowd. This had been an annual banquet for the local dart league, and despite the fact that they were all drunk and in the mood to party, I was not equipped to entertain them. This was the longest six hours I ever withstood.
When the party was over, Joe came over to talk to me. He said that he had been doing this for over twenty years, and that in that time, he learned a few things that helped him on nights like this. He sat with me and in the two hours that followed, he explained the ins and outs of the profession, as well as tricks that work to make the crowd want to party to the music. “It isn’t the music that gets them going” he said. “It’s how the music is presented and how you follow up on a song that keeps them on the floor. That’s your only goal of the night…keep them on the floor. If you are playing a song and everyone is dancing, you want this to continue. If they go sit down, you will work twice as hard to get them back on the floor. If you want to make a name for yourself in this business, word of mouth will either make you or break you.” I never forgot his words, and almost twenty five years in the business, they still ring true.
Joe’s mother purchased the night club for him, and one for his brother when she received an insurance settlement from a bus accident. With his natural people skills, Joe was able to turn the new place into a success. People from the tiny community where the club was situated, as well as people from surrounding communities frequented the place whenever a community event, a wedding, anniversary or any public function was being held. Joe was a fantastic cook who made the best suppers for these events, and his kind staff made everyone feel welcome. I played the club many times, and every time, Joe and I had splendid conversations about the industry and about people. I will miss Joe. I know the place wont be the same without him. Good-bye old friend, I know that right about now you are serving drinks to the angels.