A goth night, or a post-punk night, or a punk night, or a funk night, or a whatever-you-want-to-spin night can only be made better with a guest DJ. You have good company while you’re playing records, sometimes you can challenge each other with a spin off (I always liked to do back to back sessions during the last hour or so of every night) and you have someone to take the pressure off of you so you can talk to your friends, have a drink, just take a break.
I had a number of guest DJs throughout the couple years that St. Vitus took place, several of whom were experienced DJs and several who were local musicians that also had great record collections. (Which is pretty much the same thing.) But pretty much all of them were friends (some of them acquaintances that I was friendly with), and that, in particular, made the experience better. Though, that being said, everyone’s interpretation of “goth” is different, and occasionally I’d vet their choices. My wife was particularly stringent about this, and felt a sigh of relief when I said I vetoed a Beach House record. (They’re great, but not something that makes people want to drink and have fun on a Wednesday night.)
My friend Adam guest DJed on a special Valentine’s Day edition of our goth night, which included an overhead projector and rotating messages projected on the wall. I probably played some goth love songs, I honestly can’t remember. Though what I do remember was Adam played a lot of great stuff that I probably wouldn’t thought of (like a track from Kate Bush’s The Sensual World), and some that I would (Chameleons’ “Swamp Thing”), none of which were obvious choices by any means. I also remember my friend Dan texting me later that night after getting high and asking me if a joke he came up with made any sense. It didn’t but that didn’t deter him; he’s a social media professional now. (And he’s very good at it!)
Now, naming your goth night St. Vitus Dance Party gets you a couple of specific reactions from people. The first is that they instantly get it, since it’s named after a Bauhaus song, and there’s no ambiguity about the reference. The second, and one that happened not infrequently, was that they’d ask if I’d play the doom metal band Saint Vitus. I didn’t, but I do like that band. But you know—slow doom metal on a goth night, kinda like the Beach House thing. Doesn’t really get people on the dance floor.
So Adam brought a record appropriate for the theme that I hadn’t thought of: Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4. Metalheads will likely know that there’s a song on the album called “St. Vitus Dance,” which is probably where the doom metal band got their name. Regardless, he played the song, which fits and doesn’t fit at the same time, but I’m a Sabbath fan, so it’s all good.
While it’s playing, he turns to me and says, “You have this record, right?” And I said, “believe it or not, I don’t.” Without hesitation, he replies, “Then it’s yours!” Which made my night. It’s also worth noting that Vol. 4 rules. The first six Sabbath albums are all outstanding, and there’s gems on the late ’70s stuff too (Never Say Die! has saxophones!). Yet while I wouldn’t rank this as high as Paranoid or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (which I got around a year later), it features “Wheels of Confusion” and “Snowblind” (which always sounds a little out of tune to me, but that reinforces the weird disorientation of the drugs Ozzy’s singing about) and “Supernaut,” which has maybe my favorite Sabbath riff of all time.
So that’s the other reason to invite people to guest DJ your night. Sometimes they bring you a metal Valentine’s Day gift.
Sound Quality: Great