DJ Reflections: Dezemba 2020
With the kind of rollercoaster year 2020 was, this has been the most uncertain looking period I've had ever since I started DJ'ing. What do you think our annual festive season in a global pandemic would look like? Welcome to a recap of my Dezemba 2020.
As you already know, December is 1st to 31st of the month, and Dezemba; 15th thereabout till about 14th January. I would have initially said 10th but the limit keeps getting pushed every year. I found the entire month pretty eventful so this might be a longer recap than it should be.
On the 1st day of the month, a classmate from uni got hitched, and she entrusted the music for her special day in my hands. It seemed pretty odd for a wedding ceremony to be occurring on a Tuesday, but that was their decision and it worked well. It was a pretty small occasion with family and close friends present. They all had a good time with the couple thanking me as if I hadn't been paid to do the work; always loved those reactions. It still cracks me up how I used to shun weddings out of fear of making mistakes that would end up messing up the entire occasion.
The weekend approaching was going to be the first monster weekend of the month; I had 2 separate events, coupled with my older brother's wedding, for which I had to DJ on 2 of those events also. For clarity, I had to hit 2 events (traditional wedding, Blueprint) on Friday, one on Saturday (JunkFest), and another on Sunday (family lunch to end the wedding weekend).
On one hand, I was already sweating bullets prepping for Blueprint (A Jay-Z themed party), and on the other hand, I was dealing with family for my brother's wedding. This means long days, long nights, and having to always be available in case there's help needed at any point in time from both families.
I was stressed because I didn't grow up in Jay-Z's era to really know the cult classics, the sleeper hits, the deep cuts, and such. I mean, Spotify and Apple Music playlists help but I did a similar event with the artist focus on Drake - I am currently living through his era, so I found it easier to navigate. But the church of Hov? The number of people who swear by him as the undisputed GOAT? Absolutely no way I could get this wrong. However, I curated my songs waiting for the day ... or night :$
I hit the wedding as a groomsman and as the DJ. Playing both roles was not as complicated as I expected it to be, but it did take a lot of energy. Aside DJ'ing, everyone knows you're a groomsman so they turn to you for assistance at every corner.
Everything went well eventually, till we got hit with a technical difficulty that brought the music to a halt! ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana) did their thing once again. Lights out. We waited for a bit for it to come on but it was a really sunny day already, and we were basically at the end of the ceremony so guests ate and left.
Now, having to deal with the anxiety of satisfying the Hov' fandom. Got back home, arranged my fit and tried to take a nap but of course, I couldn't. Running on a few hours of sleep from the previous night, I hit Alley, and started doing my thing but Satan wasn't done with me. My controller was messing up. The music stopped about 3 times, right when the energy was building. Lucky for me, God was on my side. TMSKDJ was present with her controller, and offered it to me to use for the night. And from there, what a blast we had! Weaving through various bags; the features, the smash hits, the collabs, the sleeper hits. The success of the night gave the same euphoria of studying for an exam and passing with flying colours!
JunkFest was the following day - a junk food festival with great drinks and music. Got there after dealing with more family stuff that was a more relaxed event for me. I hit that with minimal stress, and the organizers had a great time, so we're good.
Dezemba started the next week for me.
Just like last year, as the date approached, I didn't think it was going to be that eventful. Out of the 12 dates, only 4 of them had been locked. I have a residency at Serallio, so that doesn't really count as a separate booked date. I chalked it down to being in a pandemic, but bruh, these event flyers were still going around so who was I kidding?
As time went by, the calls started coming in - little did I know how eventful this period was going to be.
House of Walker - This was a pop-up at the famous One Airport Square. It was a 3-week pop-up installation by Johnnie Walker to celebrate their 200th anniversary of operations. This event was pretty simple and once I met those behind it, I knew it was going to be calm vibes, and easy delivery throughout. They were guys I had formerly worked with on other projects with no issues at all. Both days I played there were smooth and calm.
Urban Sundays - The day-to-evening party is held at the Urban Grill Terrace on the 1st Sunday of every month but due to the impact of the virus, some dates were off during the year. December is a special month, where the event ends up running throughout every Sunday of the month.
I've done this event on and off for about 2 years now, so its wasn't such a surprise to get a call from them when they needed their big guns and A-game out for their peak season. I shared the stage with my colleagues, DJ Sam and DJ Vyrusky. NSG from the UK pulled up sometime later into the night as well.
Boomerang - This party is an offshoot of Throwback Hip-hop New Years, which has happened twice for the past 2 years. While maintaining the same theme of throwback music, this time around, we incorporated Afrobeats to the genres for the night. I had to bounce between this event and Serallio that night because of my residency there but it was good overall.
ROADBLOCK - This was one of my favourite events from the period to be honest. No posing, no packaging. Just pure vibes and people having a great time with each other. It was a collaborative event between some of favorite guys in the industry; Tasia (Palm Moments) and Awo (Taste Tales). I did this event with budding rapper and budding DJ, Temple. A short stretch of the Palm Moments street was blocked to set up the party.
Serallio (25th) - Christmas Day really is celebrated differently in various households and what I thought was going to be a family day for most. In the middle of a pandemic, where spending time with the family could even be somewhat problematic but what do I know. Leaving home, I thought it was going to be one of our mellow nights, but boy, was I in for a surprise. This night may have been the most packed since we resumed. People were OUT out! I guess chopping Christmas varies as you grow up as well.
SUNDAZE - This is is a high-roller, big baller, table service event. It was eye opening for me to be honest, since I don't work in a club, where these things may be more prevalent. Squad really get dough for this Accra here. Whether it be dough or packaging, I no know but chale boys dey work.
I wasn't sure I was going to do this event till the afternoon of that day actually. I suited up and hit the venue to do my thing, and I had a great time there. Aside being wow'ed but all that was going on, the music was actually great. I shared the boards this time with DJ Big L, iPhone DJ and DJ Neptizzle who were all amazing.
Cannon Grove Brunch - This was one of the earlier bookings that I got way before the gig, and that kinda flattered me. People are really recognizing the quality in my work and are curating me into their music for their event. Last year was #Manifestivities19 which had top GH acts and Burna Boy. This trip, it was Joeboy and Eva Apio. Talking of other DJs on the bill, we had DJ MicSmith, DJ Neptizzle, iPhone DJ, and yours truly.
We really need to improve our punctuality to events and stop slandering organizers for starting late. It was a great night, and that's when I got linked up officially for UPPFEST.
UPPFEST - The concept of this event still didn't seem possible to me, first of all. Wasn't sure if it was coming on from the day I was told that it was ready to take off. But it came on, live. The famous pool party festival that went on for 10 days. Technically 9, I think 1 day was skipped. I worked at the venue, so I was there every day to basically make sure the music never stopped. I ended skipping one day because I needed rest and that's the day Stormzy showed up and performed with YawTog. My house witches' work overtime really paid off for them that day.
I loved this event mostly for the quality of music served from the DJs and the live performances that occurred there. Acoustic Night headlined by Efya, Afrobeat Party headlined by Darkovibes and King Promise, and Stonebwoy, headlining the PJ Kev Party. Afrochella's Closing Party also had some of the best hip-hop I'd heard all Dezemba, served by my OG and Chairman, DJ MicSmith. It was a top vibe.
Flambé - With all these back to back nights and casual hangouts, you can tell I was worn out by now. This was the last event I was personally doing to end my Dezemba period. I had it chale. M'abr3, stupid.
But on the other hand, I really enjoy doing food and day hangout party events so I was still down and in the mood to do it. I got a call earlier from one of the organizers asking where I was because I was running a little late. I met them later and they told me the tone which I answered with, they realized that the guy is tired, so they'll just wait for me to get there. LMAO. But it wasn't a bad arrival time. I started out and handed the boards over to my partner in crime, ENDWD DJ who rocked the night away. I liked the ambience of this event.
Finally, I was done.
Its clear the virus impacted where a lot of people could have been by this Dezemba and how that would have affected their entire brands. One solid observation was that regardless, most of the events that went down well was people recognizing the quality or potential of these events, the organizers and vendors employed. It was however careless to go out and party, putting yourself and so many at risk of getting sick. It wasn't till this period that I realized that maybe.... just maybe... its not a selfish decision to go out and party...well unless you know you're sick, and therefore shouldn't be out.
"Essential work", as is limited to finance, government, and public service sectors is not really accurate. The hospitality industry has an entire workforce behind it. DJs, MCs, lights & sound guys, waiters, hostesses, bombers, bad bitches etc, all depend on people being out to run ideally. Cutting us out is somewhat unfair - while understood that its necessary to minimize spreading, we need this to survive. Also, the Ghanaian economy is too informal anyways to run completely on formal avenues of work. We'll be playing ourselves if we think we can do otherwise.
Another funny thing I observed about humans is the need for congregational entertainment.
Congregational entertainment seems to be vital to human existence for the most part, and I didn't really realize it till I had to go out and work during the period. The Snapchat needs to get the 'AAYYY's ... the Insta stories and posts must come on. We can't waste drop like that. The ecstacy of partying and having a good time with your people is undefeated. Nothing cyaan really stop reggae.
All in all, it was a good period for me. Compared to last year, I'll say this period was more intense and draining, but I had more control. If I was stepping out, I knew I was going all out till I was hella drained. On the days that I wasn't working, I had the time to hang with my friends as do stuff.
That felt great. Let's see how I fare next year.