This month, we’re talking about side hustles.
The Hustle, by Van McCoy, the father of disco? Isn’t that what you asked for?
Oh. *smacks head* *giggles* You mean a side job, the thing that helps us creatives to pay the bills and all that. Please forgive me if I misunderstood, because my side job may actually involve playing The Hustle. Perhaps rock, country, hip hop. Or the newest song by Billie Eilish.
You see, my side hustle is playing music by request. I’m a DJ. And not a radio DJ, but a mobile/club DJ, which means I play in front of a live audience, including everything from parties and charity functions to corporate events, from weddings to reunions to Bat & Bar Mitzvahs, in bars and clubs and event halls. I’ve played parties inside and outside, under tents, in ice arenas, sports centers and even in a few corrals.
I may be biased, but I was trained by the best: my husband. You see, I helped him DJ a fraternity party on our first date. And I was hooked. On him and on the job.
You see, I’d always loved music, and prided myself on knowing the titles, artists and words to the songs. What I didn’t realize is how much else is involved. When I tell people what I do, they say, “That must be so much fun!” And it is. But as with anything worth doing, it’s worth doing well. So, before there’s fun, there’s work to be done.
It’s not just the equipment and the music, it’s the knowledge, preparation and experience of how to piece the sets together to facilitate a dance floor. It’s being able to figure out what someone is insisting you play when they give you a line in the song rather than the true title. It’s teaching the electric slide 100 million times. Dealing with people who may have had a bit too much to drink. Honing the skill and intuition to “read a room.” And being responsible for the minute-to-minute timeline of a 48-hour dance marathon.
It’s calming the bride who rips her special stockings with the bells embroidered on the ankles because she trips and skins her knees on her way to the chapel…
Oh wait. That was me.
But you get the picture.
The pay is much more than monetary. We both inspire and build memories. We’ve had the great honor of playing a couple’s song who never got to hear at their wedding 75 years ago because it wasn’t in the band’s repertoire. We’ve helped an elderly man stand so he could dance with his great-granddaughter on her wedding day. And we’ve played that special number for the child who just finished her final round of chemo.
(Pictured: Larry, me and our son, Steve. Along with our team of DJs, both of our boys, Alex & Steve, helped whenever we DJed Penn State’s THON. It was definitely a family affair!)
Along with music, we’ve shared more smiles, hugs and tissues than we ever could have imagined.
Here’s the thing. We do have fun. And whenever I’m fortunate enough to DJ with Larry, we always sneak in a dance at the end. Because how can anyone else have fun if we’re not?