Ed: London's Playlist club has been getting a lot play,
what with you kids and your iPod DJing phenomenon. It's not all iPods
at Playlist, though — aside from breaking details on HP's
prototype-only DJammer,
Playlist is host to people using all kinds of digital DJ kit. And if
you're suffering anglo-envy, there's a club coming to Philadelphia,
USA. Here's Johnny. -PK

I'm Jonny Rocket, and I help run London's monthly Playlist
club, London's club for digital DJs.
On the fourth Saturday every month we invite music fans to turn up at
our club with their favourite playlists on their iPod or other music
player. Anyone can turn up with whatever they want to play, there's no
charge and we work very hard to secure great prizes for the best DJs.

(read more)


So how does it work? Well, we open the doors at 9pm, and the
competition starts at 10pm. DJs book their slots, first-come,
first-served, and play their hearts out. We also recruit teams of
judges, who decide which sets are the best based on audience reaction,
their own taste, and whatever other reasons they come up with as they
grow increasingly inebriated during the evening. Judges also have
"Tune" cards they hold up whenever a DJ plays a song they (or the
audience) really like. And these also count toward the final score. And
we have a regular crowd of dancers and music fans who love the
excitement of listening to something unexpected at our parties.

The great thing about our club is that we are seeing more people each
month showing up with their own remixes, and each event sees people
turning up to play their own music that they have created themselves.
We love this, as we think it's a great opportunity for musicians to see
how an audience reacts to their sounds in a club situation. It's a
forum for self-expression – which is exactly what we want Playlist to
be about.

You see, we are trying to build a free night out that offers
everyone a chance to shine. While this means that everything is random
and unexpected – one night is dance night, the next is rock night, the
music isn't genre-led; it also means our DJs tend to bring along the
interesting and unusual music they can find, and work pretty hard to
make their set the best of the night – everyone wants that prize.

Why don't we charge for the night? Well, we think that would be wrong –
in a situation like this, the audience is the entertainment, so
charging admission would effectively be "Pay to Play", and we don't
support that. We'd also rather people spent money buying music that
they want to play at the club.

We have been approached by some who argue that you can't mix with
iPods, and while that is true today, we don't think it will be
tomorrow, meanwhile many of our DJs use software like Native
Instrument's Traktor DJ Studio or the free Dekstasy to mix their music at home. [Ed: Traktor is cross-platform; Dekstasy is OS X-only. -PK]
We also believe that work has begun to develop digital DJ devices that
really emulate DJ-like features (we have a piece about HP's DJammer as
an example of this on our Web site.

We're really excited about our club right now. We are hosting more
people every month, the DJs are getting increasingly more interesting,
and we seem to have hit a nerve. Things just get busier each time.

US readers in the Philadelphia area may want to know about our first affiliated club opening on March 28 in Philadelphia.
They are trying to find a sponsor, so if you can help them do let us
know. We don't charge people to run an affiliated night – all we ask is
that we host a Web page for their event, that there is no admission
fee, and that they stick with our format. If you want to be kept
up-to-date with what's happening at Playlist, we operate a mailing list
that you can sign up for on our Web site.

What's the club like? Well, we attract an incredibly diverse collection
of people to our nights: goths and ravers, older and younger music
fans, pop kids, mad dancers and music critics. It's great to watch the
barriers between these groups evaporate.

One personal memory may help describe the night. The day I realised
Playlist would work was also our first night. It turned out that some
regulars to the venue had got together and decided to try to win the
top prize. They borrowed an iPod, and made their own mixes for the
night. These were fantastic dance mixes that got the audience moving.
They had a surprise at the end, though – they'd found the TV theme tune
to a once-popular series – and when they played it, the crowd went
wild. Seriously. We saw people running from all over the venue,
everybody in the place running for the floor. It wasn't just clubbers,
either – bar staff jumped across the bar to join in the frenzy. It was
an amazing buzz – of all the great songs played that night, it was an
obscure theme song that bought the place together; every Playlist has
at least one moment like this. It's what the club is about – bringing
people together socially through a creative use of personal technology.
We love it. If you're in London on March 26, please come along – it's
free, there's prizes, and we'd be happy to meet you.
Ed: Sounds fantastic! I wish I were in London on 3/26, but
hopefully someone else here is . . . and incidentally, was it Doctor
Who or Mr. Pastry that set off that reaction? 🙂 -PK