Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mixing it

I'm sure I must have posted about this before because I can't believe I haven't. So stop me if you've heard it before, but did I ever mention that I used to take compilation tapes to parties and insist they get played?

I flush with shame every time I think of it, and I can't believe I was such a controlling monster but whether requested or not (usually not), I'd take off what was playing and put my own stuff on, convinced I knew how to get the party swinging.

Now, often it worked. But just as often it didn't. A misjudge of major proportions was a house party in Crouch End where the music was flamenco background. Everyone seemed to be quite comfortable with this, except me of course, so I surruptitiously ejected the tape and put my own in, kicking off with Martha Reeves & the Vandellas Nowhere to Run. The hostess came flying over to berate me and put her music back on, but I physically blocked her path and refused. How dare I! It didn't end well.

At another do in Hendon I threatened to punch someone and called them a dwarf as they wanted to take of the Sixties ska compilation I'd forced on.

I think I must have been a very different person then, as I wouldn't dream of doing that now. It's INCREDIBLY rude. I don't know when or why that behaviour stopped, but it must have been about 10 years ago when the house parties started drying up. Thank God that period of life is over.

Invariably they were either a terrible crush or only had about five people rattling round in the kitchen making awkward smalltalk. You usually travelled a fair distance across London to get there, only to have to hide your booze in the oven or somewhere else no one would think to look for it. You'd know perhaps a handful of people and wonder why you bothered, then have to get a nightbus home, dodging drunks and streams of vomit, then waking up vaguely hungover the next day.

I can only think of a few I enjoyed, and they were strictly confined to an era during which I worked in a shop and you knew everyone at everything. And the studenty ones were fab in the main, even the shit ones are memorable. Otherwise they were simply dire. Invitations would chill me to the bone, depending on the person.

So when do house parties stop, exactly? Once everyone has children or gets coupled up or gets a place they actually own rather than a rental property that can be trashed and no one cares? Nowadays it's polite drinks parties or dinner parties, where you'll know people and it's far more civilised. No one's going to steal your Hoover or piss under the stairs... or insist everyone listen to the hits of 1971 whether they like it or not.

Anyhoo, now if anyone asks for music then I'm more than happy to provide it. But otherwise, that's their affair. I may think it's dreadful, but it's not for me to say. I'll just pick something else while they're not looking.


Bright Ambassador said...

My mate once got his copy of AC/DC's Blow Up Youy Video nicked from a party. He probably still bangs on about it to this day, don't know why, you only need four AC/DC albums and that certainly ISN'T one of them.
That's why my music collection never leaves the house, it's too precious, and someone, thankfully, invented the iPod.
Just thought I'd tell you that...

Ishouldbeworking said...

That's hilarious. You bossy little sod.

I grew to hate house parties too, though as you say the ones in the student years tended to be good because you already knew everyone. I've only sparked up one significant friendship through meeting someone at a party since I became a grown-up. The rest of the time it's been half an hour of tepid conversation with people from miles away that you'll never see again.

And among things I've had nicked from parties, I can include my favourite jacket, all my Stranglers singles, and all my cash (twice.). I will NEVER have a party again. Dinner parties might be pretentious toss pits, but you can control who attends, and (if I'm cooking) you'll get decent grub.

Five-Centres said...

Dinner parties can be a crashing bore, but you can usually get something out of it, depending on the company - and the flow of booze.

Simon said...

I think I have finally persuaded MrsB that I don't need a party for the big 4-0 in Feb as I never enjoy anyone else's so why should my own be different?

Never been to one where someone other than the host took control of the sounds though. That might have livened a couple up over the years.

Five-Centres said...

I'm never having another party. You can't talk to anyone and you spend all day worrying no one's going to turn up. It's far too stressful.

Mondo said...

I used to do the music for parties (and part of the reason I got into blogging - how can I put these mixes to use afterwards) but only by invitation, would never have the front to bounce the host's choice.

There's still a few round our way but it's more of neighbour thing - although the one with the dodgiest taste in music is fiercely protective of his hi-fi. We had to listen to Muse and G'N'R one New Year's Eve.

Cocktails said...

I haven't had a party in years, although I do enjoy inviting people round for cocktails or sherry in our garden the early evening. This way it can either be short and pleasant if people need to get away (and we can encourage them to if need be) or a longer evening if the company is right.

And on the subject of music at parties, my father took his new Roy Orbison LP to a party in 1962, someone scratched it and he still hasn't forgiven them.

Five-Centres said...

I'd be on a knife-edge at yours, Cocktails. I'd know if I was boring you if I was shown the door after sherry number one.

Cocktails said...

Oh not you, F-C, not you.

Not unless you forced some rubbish mix tape onto our stereo anyway.

John Medd said...

Mmm. Parties schmarties. We've all moved on since we used to go to all the parties down our street. I'm with ISBW on this one. The dinner party (or dare we use the s word * ?) is probably the only place where the company, grub and music means that there won't be vomit on the kitchen floor, couples shagging on the stairs and the rozzers breaking down the front door at 2 in the morning. I still take a mix CD to other peoples gatherings which usually gets played straight away and sometimes later in the night. But, then again, I'm the sort of saddo who instead of counting sheep during those occaional sleepless nights, compiles set lists and running orders for future CDs.

* supper