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A Vancouver D.J. diary


With a one-world ticket in her hand and a trolley bag full of records, Veronica, one of Vancouver's hottest new female deejays, was ready for an exotic club-culture experience around the world.  Ready perhaps, but unprepared for the global frenzy created by her unique musical mixes of house music (ranging from lounge sounds to vocal, disco, funky, and after-party sounds) in each of the major cities throughout the tour. 

Original as her musical style, her diary reads like an excerpt from a modern Alice in Wonderland, with wild encounters of both the animal and human kind.

Day 1 - Four and a half hour flight to New York - served some strange muscles that resembled fish labia (if there was such a thing). 

Taxi driver had some weird stories about TV and stage personalities he'd driven - including one with prostate trouble who requested a vase to urinate into on the journey.  The vase was a gift for the taxi-driver's mother, even so he was happy to oblige a passenger in an emergency, the problem occurred when the celebrity handed it back after use.

Arrive at hotel, and unpack and get ready in all of twenty minutes, as I had a meeting a record label rep at a nearby club.  Met lots of really interesting people, and got a taste for New York City's Club scene. Everything is on such a large scale, especially the alcohol portions! I meet several female DJs, and also Darren Emmerson (a DJ from the UK!)  Not bad for being there only two hours!  WOW!

Day 2 - First stop - the New York Satellite Records store - the Elysian Fields for any deejay, the stock is amazing.  I enter a time warp drifting along on musical sojourns, emerging hours later with headphone indents and a strong desire to purchase a second record bag and trolley. Not possible on this trip, so I settle for just fifteen records that I can't live without, and one amazing boxed set of African rhythms.  I play at Liquids tonight in the East Village, New York City, which reminds me somewhat of a cross between Vancouver's Bar None (aesthetically) and Lotus (crowd and musically speaking), and everyone I meet is very sweet!  The stereotype of New Yorkers being rude just does not hold up at all!  These are some of the friendliest people on earth!  I have a great 3 hour set, with people (mostly 20-25 year old women) asking me to autograph the CDs I am giving away!  Grab a cab back to the hotel at around 4:30am, and I'm taken on a tour of many sites including Times Square and Central Park, free of charge!  Back by 5:30am.

Day 3 - Slept most of day recovering, a short day in a city that never sleeps.  There's entertainment on every corner.  In Times Square a crowd draws around a compelling drum beat that turns out to be a couple of guys playing upturned empty paint containers while a third guy spins and gyrates across the sidewalk - break-dance style.  The talent is phenomenal.  Now for the other priorities - the Empire State, Carnegie, Radio City and Grand Central.  Dinner, then bed - early!!

Day 4 - A quick visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art - should have set aside a whole day for this place, it's gigantic.  Drool at the originals by Monet and Van Gogh (my favorite) - the urge to touch them is overwhelming, but the attendants are extremely vigilant.  At one point I sit on a bench and slip my feet out of my shoes and an attendant immediately instructs me to put my shoes back on in the gallery.

Central Park would take a whole week to explore so I resolve to return and take more time on my next visit.  I'm on a plane again tonight - time has run out.

Day 5 - Arrive in London and visit family for five days.  Not enough time to get back to London's record stores, but Oxford offers a few gems.  Hmm - can I slide in three more records into the bulging bag?  Will the trolley survive under the weight?  It does have a lifetime guarantee, after all!

Day 10 - Airborne again for just a couple of hours to Mallorca, one of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain.  My fears regarding carry-on weight limits have been allayed and the record bag is safely ensconced in the overhead compartment.  (I hope there's no serious turbulence - if that falls out someone dies!)  Meet Matty Mateos (DJ/Producer) he's sitting right next to me on the plane, making tracks on his laptop!  We part ways upon landing.

For such a small island the airport is huge and very modern.  The taxi seat almost burns my backside, the heat is searing and the air-con doesn't kick in for fifteen minutes.  Rivulets of sweat course beneath my shirt as we wind our way up into the mountains to the hotel.  Clusters of shuttered, stone houses cling to the hillsides and orange groves abound.  I notice that the goats wear large cowbells and the bougainvilleas burst in pink splashes across the parched landscape.

Day 11 - Rent a car and explore some of the local villages - Valldemossa and Deia - beautiful sleepy stone villages nestled among the mountains.  The roads are narrow with switchback bends and every car I meet is in the middle of the road - I honk the horn at every bend from now on. 

Day 12 - More exploring on roller-coaster roads.  Eat at a bizarre village restaurant where every square inch of the interior walls and surfaces is covered with oil paintings, clocks, plastic grapes, traces of faded Christmas decorations and ornaments.  I sit at a table that is graced by crooked candelabra, a lamp with a burned shade and on the table are real lemon branches complete with lemons and leaves.  There is barely enough room for my plate, but the food is delicious.

Day 13 - B.C.M. is the club mecca in Magaluf, a seaside resort south of Palma in Majorca.  Frequented predominantly by British tourists, it is an all night, no-holds-barred creation for dance lovers.  I drove to have a look at it during the day, and realized it was huge.  Once I arrive in the evening, I realize that there is another football field sized area I haven't noticed behind the massive club-BCM Square.  There are ex-Page 3 girls (topless pin-ups from one of the British tabloids) serving drinks, men riding plastic bucking broncos, controlled by a guy who delights in throwing them off within five seconds.  The club manager insists I am photographed on the bronco!  I sit side-saddle, give the thumbs up, and dismount, all on the condition that it does not move.  Later I tour the club, which is already packed with at least 4000 people.  With massive amounts of equipment, two people are hired to work the lights, on enormous control boards to my left, and I am not short of equipment either, with three turntables and two CD mixers.  The crowd is so full of energy!  At 3am, the resident DJ Des Mitchell introduces me and people are screaming and reaching over into the DJ area, which is heavily secured.  My first song starts, and I am being asked to sign autographs and pose for pictures, which is flattering, but it leaves little time for mixing!  I have no idea what else transpires during that set, but by 6am, I am leaving with BCM attire, in my rented "Ibiza" brand car.  My ears are ringing incessantly. 

Day 14 - Wake up at around 3pm, and I think I am deaf.  I manage to visit another village where a cemetery perches on a craggy cliff edge and the photos of deceased loved ones that have been plasticized and attached to the gravestones intrigue me.  Go to bed early, still with ringing ears like I have never experienced before.

Day 15 - Visit a local market where patterned leather goods and hand-made lace shawls and doilies are displayed.  Another excellent meal in a roadside café, my Spanish is a little rusty, but I seem to be managing.  I buy some fabulous dresses in a tiny roadside boutique!

Day 16 - More airports and flying - back to London, England (terminal 1), taxi to terminal 4, then an eleven hour flight to Cape Town, South Africa. 

Day 17 - No contacts in this dark continent, but apparently there is a fairly lively club scene, so maybe one day in the future, I'll be back to sample the action.  Unfortunately, the South Atlantic Ocean is hurling gusts of horizontal showers at me throughout my visit, so my views of the coastline are somewhat hazy.  My first priority is to buy a large coat, but become distracted as I find some fabulous sushi at a restaurant in the Victoria and Albert waterfront mall - just what I have been craving!

Day 18 & 19 - Bargain for malachite carvings at the local market and wander along a windswept beach with relentless breakers.  Almost deafened by crashing seas and howling winds - the storm is determined to run its course.  A severed sheep's head surprises me nestled in the crook of a sand dune.  It looks fresh, but there's no blood and no trace of its body - my mind conjures up visions of satanic beach rituals and the shivers across my back aren't solely caused by the storm winds.

Day 20 - Counting decapitated sheep heads to get to sleep...kidding!  Travel to Cape Point and take the tram (funicular railway as they call it) to the top.  Spectacular views of wild and treacherous coastline, I see the home of many shipwrecks - victims of the boiling rivalry between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

 Baboons stalk the car-park at the base of the tram and numerous signs warn people not to feed or approach them, as they can be dangerous.  I relish a bowl of hot soup in the Cape Point restaurant, but I'm alarmed as a scream echoes through the room and a whole family are running from their seats.  I waste no time either, and grab a chair just incase!  In the middle of their table sits a large male baboon with huge fangs, helping himself to the meals.  Kitchen staff run across the restaurant hurling cutlery, breadbaskets and sling-shots against the intruder until it finally retreats back out the door, a piece of bread in its hand.  It is a sliding door that someone forgot to close and this particular male baboon apparently sits in wait for the opportunity to rob the tables on a daily basis.  The food is good, so I can't really blame the baboon for trying.

Day 21 - Finally a patch of blue sky, just long enough to take the gondola ride up to the top of Table Mountain.  The floor rotates on our ten-minute ride up, enabling everyone to take in the breathtaking view across town and the surrounding coastline.  During the ten-minute ride the mantle of clouds have shrouded the top in mist and rain again and I have to be content with the memory of the gondola views. 

Day 22 - An early morning flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg that proves to be a white-knuckle ride as the turbulence has the aircraft bucking like a bronco.  I have traveled a lot recently, but this is the first time I make a mental note of where to find the wax-lined bag in the seat pocket in front of me!  Another small prop. plane ride to Skukuza in the Eastern Transvaal and I'm off on Safari for three days.

Day 23, 24 & 25 - Early morning and late evening safari rides in an open top jeep prove to be an amazing experience.  The animals are used to the shape and the sound of the jeeps, but we are warned not to stand, as the animals would attack should the overall shape change.  On one trip a rhino decides he's had enough of the jeep voyeurs and it's heads down, horn up, ready to charge.  The acceleration of the jeep is superior to a rhino's gait, thankfully. 

Night safaris reveal hunting lions and sleek leopards illuminated in the flashlights glare.  Even the African skies are spectacular with displays by the Southern Cross, Mars and the Milky Way studding the inky blackness.

The bush camp is open to animals and I have to be escorted back to my room by the safari guide every night following supper under the stars. 

Day 26 - Back to Johannesburg, but first a mandatory insecticide is sprayed on the plane once the doors close to prevent the spread of Malaria. I bury my nose in my sleeve until the sickly stench has dissipated.

 I am so grateful to receive my record bag that had to be stored in a locker in Johannesburg airport (due to weight restrictions on the small plane.)  On to Sydney, Australia - a long flight, but I must sleep as I play at the Globe club tonight. 

Meet the promoter and DJ who booked me in Sydney, Australia, and they are the funniest people I have ever met.  My cheeks actually hurt from laughing so much by the end of dinner!  The club is quite busy when I arrive, and there are two floors.  I am downstairs, with the drum and bass upstairs.  At 2am, I am on the decks, and by 2:30am, the entire upstairs is cleared out and the owners close the top floor and deal with the over-population problem on the ground floor.  I have the best set of my life at the Globe, and everything seems effortless.  I meet great people again, and the thought of moving to Sydney is planted in my head by another DJ.  At 5am, I realize I have only 3 records left, and I let the other DJ know.  They are laughing as I was only to play for 2 hours, but since I was wearing no watch and they did not want to stop me, I kept on going.  I wished that night would never end!  Back at the hotel by 8:30am.

Day 27 - Since last night went so well, I am booked to play again tonight at a different club called Tank.

Short day only time to wander around the Rocks market, an open- air market of crafts that runs the length of a street at the weekends and is sheltered by sail-like awnings.  Street entertainers wander the perimeters, one character is a very tall man dressed immaculately in a dark suit, white gloves and a huge cube head with a clock face back and front.  Another act is a group of three Elvis look-alikes with exaggerated quaffed hair and sequined suits, who sing in perfect harmony to unsuspecting shoppers and follow them around the market mimicking their movements.

I get ready for Tank and upon arrival, I am blown away by the beauty of this colonial building-turned-club.  There has been no expense spared, with the many different rooms and unusual furniture in this multi-story club.  I take many photos, even one of the bathrooms, as they too are spectacular with their oversized sinks and rooms!  As 2:30am arrives, I am on the decks and there is barely room to move, and a traffic jam to get down the glass stairs!  Many men and women tell me of their excitement to see a female DJ, and I tell one girl, "Ya, not bad for no penis!"  She laughs & high-fives me.  I see my name being projected on the walls around me!

I am home by 9am. 

Day 28 - Find the Central Station record store and resist the urge to buy the store again-only one record this time!

Treated very well by a promoter who is keen to know the date of my return in order to launch my career in Australia.  Takes me to over 15 different venues from clubs to lounges and afterhours.  I am introduced to many DJs and promoters and club owners.  This guy knows everyone!  Australians live up to their incredibly friendly and open reputation.

Day 29, 30 & 31 - On to Perth where the club scene seems sparse and restricted to weekends only.  The highlight is holding a koala bear (very touristy) and getting my photo taken.  The fur is surprisingly coarse and the claws quite menacing, but it really is a beautiful creature.

Day 32 - An eight and a half hour flight to Hong Kong, my last stop and my last gig.  I step out of the airport into a humid inferno, 33 degrees with 90% humidity is hard to take.  Taxi to Kowloon where I marvel at the density of high-rise apartment blocks built precariously on the edges of the mountains surrounding the water.  Looking across the harbor toward Hong Kong Island it's the same story, rows and rows of high-rise buildings spanning the slopes to the very top of Victoria Peak.

Time to shower off the humidity and meet D.J. Simon for a promotional radio interview on RTHK, also to advertise tomorrow nights party on Lamma Island.  The radio studio feels like home, and reminds me of radio shows I have done in Vancouver in the past.  We are done in no time at all, and we head out to some clubs.  Hong Kong definitely likes to party and I meet more club owners and DJs.  I am having troubles remembering everyone's names!

Day 33 - I take the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island and cram into a tram (another funicular train) with crowds of other visitors going to the Victoria Peak, the highest point in Hong Kong.  We seem to claw our way up the mountain at an angle of almost 30 degrees - standing room only and no air-conditioning make for a long ride, even though it takes only five minutes.  At the top, I am amazed at the restaurants and shops all perched on the top of the mountain.  The views are incredible, looking down on Hong Kong Island and across the water to Kowloon and the mountains beyond.  At the base of the tram, I jump into an open-top double-decker bus back to the ferry and prepare myself for the Lamma Island full moon beach party. 

I meet DJ Simon, DJ Kevin and a woman named Cherry, all of who speak at least 3 languages each, and board the ferry for Lamma Island.  It feels strange being able to drink a cider not only in public, but also aboard public transportation!  We arrive at the island, and there are no roads, only walking paths - certainly a change from Hong Kong, and only a thirty-minute ferry ride away!  We hike into the island, and come out the other side of the tiny town, to a beach with pristine white sand.  I see people clustered all the way down the beach around small fires, and it seems everyone is clutching a bottle of wine.

At around 2am, I am on the decks, and I see a crowd of people, next to the China Sea, and the reflections of the fire dancers in the distance add to the excitement, but it is still so hot!  About 29 degrees with 70% humidity!  I play for around an hour and a half, and take a break, as I am so exhausted from the heat.  My records are getting moist and I am trying my best to keep sand away from the precious vinyl.  At 4:45am, I am back on, just in time for a sunrise set, and I have the perfect song to play, which I bought months before I left with exactly this scene in mind.  My music is very different from the other DJs, but the comments I receive assure me that different is a good thing at this party.  Sunrise over the South China Sea accompanies my final mix - a superb synchronization that has glistening bodies swaying in homage to the new day.  At 7am, I am so exhausted, it is getting rapidly hotter now that the sun is up and I realize the urgency of returning to the air-conditioned hotel room as soon as possible, without having to hug too many sweaty, sand-covered people!  We go to a nearby house, where I camp out by the air-conditioner before  making the trek back to the ferry terminal.  (Heat aside) this reminds me of outdoor parties on Vancouver Island.  I am home within an hour, and I shower and collapse between cool sheets - bliss!

Day 34 - Slept and went to the pool, and then slept some more.

Day 35 - Rising close to evening, I decide to sample the famed Hong Kong shopping and head for Harbour City Mall, apparently the largest shopping area in Hong Kong.  I am not disappointed; the corridors of shops trail off into the distance, peppered here and there by a few restaurants and cafes.  The variety of merchandise is amazing, if you have the stamina, you can find almost anything here.  The scale of the place blows me away - it makes Metrotown Centre look like a cluster of corner-stores.  I'm undecided as to whether this place would offer the perfect antidote to shopaholics or whether it would actually breed them.

Hong Kong at night is a magical sight, especially when viewed from Victoria Peak, my last trip with D.J. Simon before packing for tomorrow's flight back to Vancouver.

Day 36 - Eleven and a half hours of flying and the Gulf Islands reveal themselves beneath some wispy morning clouds.  The air is cool and fresh with a hint of pulp and I suck it in greedily.  My record bag and trolley survives the journey and is now bulging with new sounds collected from around the world.  I'm eager to share the experience with the Vancouver club-goers, to offer them tastes and textures of other music lovers from far shores. Thankfully, the universal language of music offers me the chance to do exactly that.

Vancouver club-goers are also eager to sample the latest musical acquisitions of such a talented D.J..  As we welcome D.J. Veronica back to Vancouver, the anticipation of her creative global mixes is tinged with anxiety at the thought of losing such local talent to Australia.  Let's hope that Vancouver recognizes star quality in its own vicinity before another country claims the unique gift as its own 'home-grown' success story.

For more information on D.J. Veronica check out her web-site at:

www.djveronica.com

 

 
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