DJ Chronicles: Why Can’t This Be Love

Illustrated by Ralph Solonitz

It was the summer of 1986 and I had successfully booked my first gig. I convinced my best friend Brian D. and his parents to let me DJ our eighth grade graduation party at their house. His mom paid me with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. I took my GPX turn table / tape player two doors down and setup to the left of the steps of their newly constructed outdoor deck. RUN D.M.C and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” were popular jams. I also squealed Journey, Def Leppard, Foreigner, The Police, Huey Lewis, and Toto out of my speakers during my first set. Everything was going great until Danny F. stopped up at the start of my second set.

I started playing Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love” off of their debut record 5150 with new lead singer at the time Sammy Hagar. “Why Can’t This Be Love” is the first track on the first side of the tape so I was excited that I had cued it up without a problem. While the song was playing Danny F. stopped up to ask who the artist was? I proudly exclaimed, “It’s the new Van Halen tune!”. He hung out while the song descended and I hit “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Danny then proceeded to ask if he could see the tape. I figured he was curious to see what other great tunes were awaiting for him to admire. Danny instead put the tape in his mouth, bit it in-half, handed it back to me and said, “VanHagar sucks!”. Then he walked away into the darkness. I held the lifeless tape in my hands as the cassette reel just dangled in the wind.

This was my first lesson as a DJ, “Never let guests handle your sound equipment.”

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