I asked Mike for more details and he had to call me to explain. The call lasted about 20 minutes with him detailing the exact vibe he was looking for. He also said that I would have to dress in costume. I told him I was all about it. He didn’t know the type of music needed, he just told me that the event would be Steampunk themed. I like events that are out of the ordinary, especially when the music isn’t your typical event music. Ahead of me was some real research.
My wedding motto is that I represent my clients musically but when it comes to corporate events, it’s different. Every corporate event is different and it all depends on all the details and theme. In this case, it was Steam Punk themed so first I needed to learn what a Steampunk is. After a quick Wiki search I found that Steampunk “is a sub genre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.” You’ll find that Steampunk fashion and decor has various sprockets, cranks and gears incorporated into it. Here is an example of a decorative piece at the event.
My client had no idea what Steampunk music was but knew he wanted it to match. I quickly learned while I was researching that Steampunk doesn’t have a set genre. Rather it is a mix of genres from classical to ragtime. For this event, I decided to focus on a sub genre called electro swing. The event was to feature various performers from acrobats to contortionists so I envisioned music close to what you would hear at a carnival on acid.
Once at the venue, I sound checked and jumped into my costume. I must say, this was one of the most fun corporate events I have ever played.
The Hotel Del Coronado is as iconic to the San Diego skyline as is the Coronado Bridge. I get the honor to perform there as a corporate event DJ a few times a year. Sometimes my clients want me to provide music for awards shows while others just want me to ignite the dance floor. On this occasion, I was to play music to set the vibe.
Event on the sand
I had been prepped by the event organizer that the event was on the beach. When I walked up, the size and scale of the event was much bigger than I thought. The site was roughly 150 yards by 150 yards. There was a massive bar in the middle of the site with two long buffet lines stacked with seafood and other goodies on the North and South sides. The stage was on the east side facing the ocean.
I was to have an hour and a half set before the band played and then another hour after. My original plan for music was to play mostly beach acoustic music like Jack Johnson and some reggae. Once I set up and felt the vibe, I changed directions and decided to go with Yacht Rock. Yacht Rock is 70’s and 80’s soft rock from bands like Hall and Oates, Orleans, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald and many others. As the event filled in, I quickly realized I had made the right change. The group’s age was between 40-60 and mostly men. The soundtrack I laid out had many singing along and playing name that tune.
Genzyme, a Bio-Tech company from Canada, reached out to one of my clients to organize some entertainment for an after party at Parq Nightclub. The representative from Genzyme was very concerned about ending up with a crappy corporate event DJ. My client assured them that they had one of the best corporate event DJ options available in town, me!
The night started with an awards presentation. I have done many of these types of awards presentations where I play walk up music and filler songs. Dinner started after the awards where I played Frank Sinatra, Elle Fitzgerald and some Sam Cooke. Once they were ready to party, I opened up the dance floor with Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.” The night continued with high energy dance music until last call. Both my clients were very pleased and high fives were passed out on the way out.
With the holiday party season coming to an end, i closed it out with my client Welk Resort at Parq Nightclub. I was super excited to play at Parq as it was one of San Diego’s premiere night clubs and to give you an idea of what goes on there, I played there on a Monday after a weekend that saw performances by Drake, T.I. and Imagine Dragons. Once I dropped my first track on that Funktion 1 sound system, I knew we were all in for a treat. This is one of the few event clients that I can really use my skills as a club DJ uninhibited and not shackled to a clean version only playlist. I can only imagine how bad the hangovers were the next day!
Back in 2009 I traveled the nation with Monster Energy Drink as their official DJ for their Supercross, Motocross and C.O.R.E. I got on the tour through a buddy of mine Seth. Fast forward a few years and Seth is now working for Teva and referred me to be the Dj for the parent company’s holiday party. Decker’s owns many brands including Sanuk and Ugg boots, so it is a very large outdoor sports corporation based in Goleta CA.
At first I thought it would be your typical holiday party with dinner and drinks but once I got on the conference call about the party, I realized this would be a huge production. This event was Western themed so i had to dress up and customize my play list to cater to the theme. These are the types of events I LOVE. The music format was older country first and as the alcohol hit the blood stream and after the CEO speech, I was to crank it up. We had a blast!
To give you an idea of the amount of planning and production that went into this, when I parked in the lot outside of their warehouse, I noticed a huge bull tied to a trailer with about 30 bails of hay being transported into the warehouse. When I got in the warehouse, it was as if I was walking down the O.K. Corral complete with a Saloon, Brothel and a jail. They also hired several actors to play roles like sheriff, town drunk and gogo dancers to really put you in the theme. Great time!
This is a perfect example of how powerful having a good DJ at a holiday party can change an event manager’s perception of their co-workers. Originally the dinner was supposed to be outside but it was raining so the contingency plan was to have everyone crowd into an event space that was small for the crowd size. I spoke with one of the mangers of Chef Works and told her there was no dance floor where I was setting up. She replied, “Trust me, these people won’t dance. They are talkers and will just want to talk.” In my head I was like, “Then why did you hire a DJ?” but to her, I politely fell in line with her vision and took my place in the corner. I noticed the energy after dinner was quite low so I start doing some of my standard 80’s themed routines which are less catered to dancing and more catered to a DJ performance. After I grabbed their attention and they started to sing along, I gradually increased the energy of the music and the volume too. Within 20 minutes people were dancing wherever they could find space and the energy was super high. Never under estimate the power of music nor the yearning of a cubicle mate to dance their ass off, especially with a couple Stone IPAs in them!
It was that time of the year again for the UCSD ER Holiday party! Luckily the woman of my dreams who I married happens to be an ER nurse at UCSD, hence how I got this gig. What’s amazing about these nurses is that they will save your life and show you how to party on their time off! As soon as the dinner service was over, the dance floor got packed and stayed packed for 4 straight hours!
Entertaining hard working Costco employees at their holiday party is one of my ways of saying thank you for the cheap slices of pizza, samples of food I will never buy and the 112 jumbo rolls of toilet paper I buy that lasts me 2 years.