Saturday, July 29, 2006

"No, Matron! I said prick his boil....!"

We are engaged to perform for a number of student nurses at their end-of-exams shindig. The Other Guitarist upon receiving the initial call was told the location of the venue, how long we were expected to play, and a considerable amount of cash was mentioned. Upon hearing what the occasion was he paused and asked a further question. "That all sounds fine..." (there is the briefest of pauses) "...but could you give us a couple of weeks to raise the money...?". The venue is an out of town hotel's function suite and we are invited to be there at an early hour so as to be set up and out of the way by the time the putative Florence Nightingales arrive - we are, and meet the opposition (as it were) a couple of mobile DJs who are unexpectedly friendly and accomodating and not at all given to territorialism about the stage and where things are to go. This is a pleasant start to the evening and so we set up soundcheck and disperse, leaving them to it as we are not required until after the meal, to which we are sadly not invited. The Drummer and The Bass Player go home, The Other Guitarist, The Singer and I retire to a local fast food dispensary, all the better to shoot the breeze, admire the families picnicking in the car park on their friday family meal out, and direct a lost couple to the party at which we will later be performing. The Singer surveys the menu discomfitedly - he's not really a Burger King kinda guy, vegetarians rarely are. "A bunch of grapes and half a dozen doughnuts?" I suggest helpfully. He regards me mournfully and sighs.
When we reconvene, the dinner is thankfully progressing on time and DJ number one gives us a cue to start playing. The party is dressed in their finest, although one could be forgiven for suspecting that there is a fair amount of recycling going on - a proportion of the room resembles nothing so much as an episode of bridesmaids revisited, but they are an affable lot and are soon frugging enthusiastically, with no little kicking off of shoes and nervous tugging up of bodices during the faster numbers. Thanks to the soundcheck and the extra boost given by the hiring in of some extra PA to give the bottom end a bit of sturditry, we are sounding quite good tonight, and the first set concludes with the traditional shouting of requests including 'Dirty Dancing' (The Drummer responds pithily "..that's not a song, it's a film - what are you going to request next - 'Jaws'...?"), the inevitable 'Mustang Sally' and (a first for us) "...anything by The Smiths...".
The half time analysis is that it's been a good first period, and helpful DJ Number 2 suggests that he cues us up with something from Dirty Dancing to get the dancefloor good and full before the second set. These chaps really are rather affable and a pleasure to work with, notwithstanding the regular musician's complaint that all 'they' do is turn up with a couple of turntables and play records, which they have neatly sidestepped by simply turning up with a laptop with everything loaded onto it, which is even less gear to hump about, a point not wasted on The Drummer who nontheless is upbeat enough to lead some synchronised dancing onstage before getting behind the kit and playing along with the digitised Bill Medley. The second half is looser all round, both from band and party people, as as well as a dancefloor conga line (it may even have been during 'American Idiot', which is something I imagine Billy Joe wasn't expecting when he wrote it) there is an outbreak of what can only be described as Boob Juggling on the part of one young lady, who cleverly utilises her friend's decolletage in an enormously entertaining fashion. Fortunately for everyone's peace of mind and decorum, spillage is not forthcoming.
The DJs wind the evening up with a hardcore party favourites set, the likes of which will be familiar to anyone who's been at a wedding reception these past twenty years (Grease megamix? - check, Baggy Trousers? - check, Come On Eileen? - check, Wham? - check) but throwing in a couple of cheeky cross fades - we are collectively moved to congratulate them on their slick Pussycat Dolls/Seal mix, which has inspired one young lady to straddle a chair in a fashion which I'm quite sure Matron wouldn't approve of at the day job, and which fully utilises the slashed-to-the-thigh style of her best posh frock. We scurry about the stage unplugging leads, winding cables and hoicking bulky musical equipment out of the way and out the back door while the nurses and their beaus are distracted, all the better to effect a speedy departure. For like Cinderella, we always go to the ball, but you can be sure we'll have to be up and sweeping, washing and cleaning the grate out at home in the morning. Momentarily we wonder if we should take one of the many discarded shoes piled up around the dancefloor and perhaps tour the wards of the local hospital, looking for the owner and promising to make her a princess. But then we quite sensibly surmise that that would be just bloody stupid.

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