RANT 'N' RAVE: RESIDENT EVIL
Resident DJs are RETURNING to clubland apparently. As if they ever left...
All this guff about the return of the resident... pah! Are you kidding me? Big clubs drafting in an already established marquee DJ for a few slots at the same venue and calling it a residency... purlease! Since when was someone the resident AND the guest DJ (someone you booked) anyway? Isn't that kinda missing the point!?
True residents — those who grow with a club or club night, stick with it through thick and thin, richer for poorer — are types happy to reside in the shadows, play to a few bar staff and wait for the first couple of blokes to arrive (let's be honest, they're mostly guys). They'll also be on hand — after the headliner has finished fist-pumping, taking all the credit while quaffing Grey Goose — to pick up the slack of the graveyard shift; the depressing job of keeping people in after 4am only to watch them gradually leave, while the main act is already tucked up in bed — or desperately trying to coax groupies up to his or her 5* hotel room. Why? Because they actually give a shit about the night.
Residents have always been — or should be — about setting (and maintaining) the tone of the night. They are the lifeblood of their abode and the personality that defines it. Larry Levan WAS The Paradise Garage. Giles Smith and James Priestley are the DJs they are BECAUSE of Secretsundaze — the party THEY started. They're not people picking up a hefty fee for a batch of gigs, rinsed for his or her crowd-pulling credentials — much like a trendy brand — shoehorned in to artificially inseminate the lost identity of a soulless club night.
Real residents are essential cogs of a carefully conceived and fully functioning machine — an integral, but sometimes tiny, leaf on a worldly oak tree. They should occur naturally. It all seems a little contrived, doesn't it? Greedily pointing at the most bookable DJ in the room, reaching for the cheque book and marking a fistful of 0s (or in the case of Vegas, eight!), and gleefully sitting back while the punters roll in like automatons. David Mancuso didn't start DJing in his loft because he wanted to get rich, he did it because he believed in creating a special environment for people to feel warm, free of the censure of a prejudiced society. He wanted people to feel safe, not play safe.
What's most annoying about hearing about “resident DJs coming back” is the suggestion they even went away in the first place. We understand what they are getting at; that for whatever reason — perhaps greater reliance on big names (and technology) is attracting attention away from pure DJs and onto producers — residents have been overshadowed within some parts of the scene. But the very idea that they've in some way disappeared off the face of the planet is utterly ridiculous — deluded even, or just woefully ill-informed. But 'quantitative reinstating of a few temporary residents into an already existing system' doesn't make for quite the same marketing slogan, now does it?
Think of any venue revered around the globe and you'll find a stock of shit-hot resident DJs — or at least one or two — supporting it. Fabric, Panorama Bar, Rex, DC10... all clubs responsible for countless podcasts and CD compilations between them. The regular bookings of their compatriots around the world are testament to years slogging away in their respective booths. The same applies to club nights like Hoya Hoya, Playaz, Circus, FWD and the already mentioned Secretsundaze, among so many others.
So if residents are dead, where does it leave people like Steffi, Terry Francis or DJ Hype? Does that make them the living dead, like those zombies in Resident Evil (pun intended)? They weren't the last time we checked! If I remember rightly, when this resident ranter (yep, I'm a resident too) saw Nick Höppner play at Panorama Bar last year, he made all the guests look a bit rubbish in comparison. He knew the room inside out, and with something like a sixth sense knew exactly what to play, when to play it. Not something that can be taught overnight — or from a block of 10 or so gigs over the space of a year. Those claiming to be bringing back the resident should consider that the next time they decide to bring in a temp.