Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Makes my head spin

I've been promising to write about the club for a while and here it is.
It was Headspin's 11th birthday last weekend, on January 24th. A quite scary figure that I never thought we would reach. I was just 22 when I started the gig and would have been happy for it to last five or six years. I think it must be a bit like how you count a dog's age, though maybe not quite multiplied by seven. In club terms we're now surely beyond middle age and approaching retirement, so multiply by a factor of 5 and we're about 55 now. That puts us up with a few legends of Edinburgh clubland, alongside the likes of Pure, Manga, and Tribal Function.
I make no secret of the fact that I've reached something of a crossroads with regards to my own feelings about the club. I feel I do the lion's share of the work in promoting the event and lay out any cash that needs to be spent, but when it comes to who gets to play, I take my turn just like everyone else and I will always be the last to get paid when we make any profit.
The reason I started the club in the first place was to give myself a chance to play out, to let people hear the music I thought was good enough to play loud and dance to. Somehow recently it has turned round to being that everyone must get the same chance to play and I have to wait my turn like a Muscovite standing in a queue for a loaf of bread. I don't want to be a Nazi about it and insist that I always play at peak time or anything like that, but the style of music I tend to play is undeniably suited to being played at that time.
So putting a lot of work in, investing time and money promoting the thing, only to get to play two half hour sets once a month and probably not get paid doesn't really seem worth it.
My feelings were brought into focus at the new year event when I got the distinct feeling that the club has run it's course; that what we had always done had ceased to be relevant, and our attempts at keeping up-to-date by playing the most up-front and recent tunes was a bit desperate and reactionary. We've never really been about playing the freshest, most recent tunes. We've always kept up to date with what's going on musically but we've never been a slave to the trends, fashions and fads of the day. We've done our own thing and it has been an almost timeless selection that spans decades but fits together like it was all made to be played together.
Over the past 18 months or so it has become a real problem getting the guest DJs we have wanted to play at the club. Deciding upon someone we are all happy with - who we think will play across the board enough to suit the music policy, but also being a big enough name to draw a good crowd, yet still sticking within the budget of what we could expect to recoup - has become more and more difficult and we're running out of names. When we do decide on someone the next challenge is trying to secure them for a reasonable price. This has proved really frustrating recently and I've been continually let down by agents who don't respond to my emails or feel they can get their artists more money elsewhere.
No disrespect to any of the guests we have had on over the past year and a half but many of them wouldn't have been first choice had we been able to secure the people we wanted. Others who we were sure would do well and were excited about have turned out to be less of a draw than we had expected and we've ended up either losing a bit of cash on it or just breaking even.
Obviously nothing can continue running at a loss so if things don't improve in that regard the decision will be made for me.
But I don't want you to think it is all negative; if it was it would be an easy decision to walk away and finish it up now.
On the plus side, we do have DJ Format booked in for February. He has been with us twice before and is a great DJ who is usually pretty popular. On top of that he is also a really sound guy, and probably one of only two or three guests I have booked who I would say have developed into being mates of mine. So I'm looking forward to hooking up with Format again and spending a bit of time with him.
At the birthday party at the end of last month it turned out to be a really good night as well. I enjoyed it much more than at new year. There was a good, happy, party vibe; the dancefloor stayed busy all night and everyone enjoyed themselves. We played a lot of classic tunes, not bothering with too much new stuff. We didn't stick to the rostered times but instead mixed it up with each of us putting a couple of tunes on then the next person jumping in. It left me feeling much more involved and raised the energy levels of the music. At the end someone finished off with Public Enemy's 'He Got Game'. Wouldn't have been my choice but I didn't put the last one on.

In the past couple of weeks one or two people have talked to me about how important they think Headspin is and how it is one of the only clubs of its type left and that Edinburgh needs it to continue. This wasn't anyone who knew that I was considering the future of the club but still they were enthusing about it and talking about how good it was. Their enthusiasm made me feel a bit better about things, but I wish more of the clubbing population shared those positive feelings and enthusiasm.
I don't want our audience to become apathetic and Headspin to fade away, tarnishing the memory of what it once was. If I feel that is happening I will have to pull the plug.