Let Me Tell You A Story

Good dance mixes don't just link a series of songs together. They tell stories.

Whether it be a story of celebration--feeling good and sharing the love from track to track, or a tale of passion--sensual connection that lingers and titillates with every transition. They evoke moods that settle in the soul like provocative embers of a fire that can't be extinguished.

Sometimes these stories get at the heart of a moment, or they work out whatever is going on upstairs in the creator's head. Sometimes they reflect the zeitgeist that accompanies the era we live in. Sometimes they are just an honest, refreshing connection between the DJ and the listener.

And, make no mistake, in a good dance mix, YOU are a part of the tale. It's your relationship to the music, the DJ accesses: your mood, your instincts, and your intuitions. If the DJ doesn't tell the story right, there is no sustained connection--you go back to the bar off the dance floor, or close the music player window on your computer.

But, when a DJ tells a good story on a dance floor, on the radio, in your car or elsewhere , it's a page turner, and you don't want to stop hearing. Each new song is like the perfect answer the question the previous song posed.


I was driving around San Francisco at 4am a few nights ago listening to just such a story unfold on my speakers. A shameless perfectionist, I'd spent the previous 8 hours weaving together a new group of tracks I'd downloaded the other night from Beatport (yay Beatport!). It was really late and I was exhausted. But I wanted an extra 80 minutes in the car to listen to the mix all the way through. Just "one more time" to catch anything that felt off -- pitch mismatches, aggressive fades, mishandled effects insertions, etc.

And I also wanted to confirm my suspicion that I'd mixed one hell of a story.


It started lush and inviting, yet provocatively as if attempting to communicate a loneliness that desired company. And as I bonded with the story, accepted its invitation, the story began to take me on a journey.

The first few tracks stirred up an odd mixture of ambivalent, almost indifferent melodies and arresting, hypnotic baselines set to driving unstoppable beat. And, all of sudden, when it gelled together, I was hooked without realizing it. Snapping my fingers. Clapping my hands. Dancing in the driver's seat of my car at the intersection of Tired and Who Cares while streetlights flashed overhead and traffic signals trailed like paint smudged in air.

When the mix hit a stretch of mindless intensity, I was there losing it, succumbing to the rhythm. A primal creature. Driven by the beat. Wanting to possess it. Yet knowing that it was possessing me.

And then a climax. Hovering in space. Weightless. On my own, yet not alone -- as the mix' last 15 minutes gently carried me down to a contemplative and emotionally powerful segue, as if to confirm life's bitter sweetness audibly as a series of powerful ups and downs.


Wow, what a mix! No, actually "what a story"! Indeed, I was so deep into it I forgot I'd made the mix. It was more like the mix made me.

Ok, so maybe you're thinking: You nutter, sleep deprivation does this sort of thing. But, hey, so does a good mix, right?

You decide.

But ask yourself, while listening, what is the story being told? I'd love to know what you hear in it—it's YOUR story, too. So let me know, submit your comments below.

Now serving: Mix Fix 002 - Pop Rocks In Space.

posted on 10.16.2006 08:31 AM • Add A Comment