DJ Pearly Pearl

So tonight I DJed with my wife’s aunt’s 50th high school reunion at the Renaissance in White Plains, N.Y.

Didn’t really know what to expect. Were about 130 attendees, average age: 68. Was told by Aunt Barbara people probably wouldn’t dance, and I sort of assumed the same. Hence, I kept the songs pretty mellow and basic. Here Comes the Sun, At Last, Big Girls Don’t Cry, You Send Me, etc. Then, roughly 1 1/2 hours in, a guy came up, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “We’re waiting to dance. Can you play something?”

I was euphoric. Threw on Chubby Checker’s The Twist, which started things off. Followed with a slew of dance songs, ranging from Great Balls of Fire to Johnny B. Good to Let’s Twist Again to Yakety Yak. I can’t honestly say the joint went crazy—but, at my best, I probably had 40 people on the dance floor. A couple of times I tried escaping the 50s/early 60s, but it didn’t go over so well. Popped on Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out—no go. Same for Celebration. They also didn’t much care for Little Richard, which surprised me a tad. Because Little Richard was The Shit back in the day. “People wanna be nostalgic,” that same (annoying-but-accurate) guy told me. “They want to recall their youths.”

I loved the whole affair. Tweeted from song to song, which was cool. Got myriad responses:

WilsonClint

@jeffpearlman If Elvis isn’t doing it, I don’t know what to tell you.

JohnCaryBG

@jeffpearlman Only one thing left to do: YMCA

natelopez53

@jeffpearlman fools rush in. old people can’t resist that one

Skyped with the wife during the gig, just to see if it’d work out. It did—save for one near-horrible moment. While the wife and I were Skyping, one of my aunt’s classmates was giving a little speech that went on and on. I told the wife the speech was boring, not realizing we were talking over the speakers. Luckily, no one seemed to hear.

Reunion ended at 11, so at 10:58 I put on Donna Summer’s Last Dance. Folks seemed unmoved, so I followed with Play That Funky Music. Was expecting a hotel employee to give me the CUT sign, but no one did. So I continued with Freda Payne’s Band of Gold (A brilliant song, by the way), then took a request for Proud Mary from a skinny man with glasses.

“Ike and Tina or Creedence?” I asked.

He nodded approvingly. I’d earned my stripes.

“Creedence,” he said.

I played it—and the floor filled up one final time.

Great night.

6 thoughts on “DJ Pearly Pearl”

  1. Not sure what your aunt was thinking.
    That generation can’t WAIT to get on the dance floor to the classics.

    They all even used to take dancin’ lessons back in the day. A total social thing (and a legal way to get cloooooose) without the chaperones freaking out 😉

  2. Jeff, I was DJ to that demographic in Nashville when they were all 40 in 1982 and I was still in high school. It was all about The Temptations’ “My Girl” and other late-’60s/early-’70s tunes as I recall. But the summum bonum was “Build Me Up Buttercup,” part of a “Carolina beach” genre of soul-pop that may or may not have ever crossed the M-D line.

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