My aunty was married twenty years ago (one of them) and using the state-of-the-art late 1980s technology I had my first gig as a DJ. I was 12. The big hit at the wedding, from the three dubbed C-90 tapes I made was the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers, specifically the double-whammy of Cab Calloway’s Minnie The Moocher and then Sweet Home Chicago.
A few years on, a few updates and upgrades and my aunty (another one) got married. Using the state-of-the-art technology of this time (the iPod) I was, once again, the DJ. I had two playlists, basically a before and after for music during the drinks and for the actual service and then, for want of a better term, the party music – the stuff to dance to.
It went well, it was good fun – and my fears that someone would find the iPod and start messing with the flow were, in the end, not an issue. We tucked it away, put the lock on and from Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, through Little Richard’s You Keep On Knocking and on through Chic’s Le Freak to Blondie’s Heart Of Glass the music played on and people had themselves a boogie.
And then, somewhere around 10.30ish, many of the guests disappeared. Fair enough, it’s a long day in the sun and a longer evening in the cool and the cake had been cut (along with a rug or two) and the speeches were made, so all formalities were ticked off.
What happened next is hard to describe, but I will give it a go:
Around this time of 10.30ish I saw three aunts on the dance floor (not the one who had just got married). And two uncles. One great aunt. One great uncle. My brother and his fiancé, my wife, my mum and dad. And basically, that was it. The family that plays together stays together…well, I think this was the first time my mum’s whole side of the family had been together since my wedding – nearly three years earlier – and the celebration continued on through Duran Duran’s Is There Something I Should Know and Madonna’s Lucky Star, on through sixties pop songs, seventies disco and eighties cheese…
And then, in the one close-to-flat-spot of the evening (and I’m only talking seconds here, literally seconds) I decided to deviate from the playlist; making myself my own worst enemy.
No one was happy with the idea of Kelis’ Trick Me or Kanye’s Jesus Walks – usually failsafe – and so I scrolled to P on the list of artists, and what happened next I can take no real responsibility for. I mean I should – it was after all my iPod, and my fingers doing the walking around the wheel…anyway, I scrolled to Peter Frampton. And from there to Frampton Comes Alive!
This is a special album for me – and for my family. I make no real apologies for how much we like this album. We love it. The whole family. I still have the original double-vinyl that my parents played when I was born the same year as the album…
And so I scrolled to Do You Feel Like We Do – and played all 13 minutes and 46 seconds of it.
This would be a DJ-no-no, an audio nasty in probably anybody’s book. But here on the floor of the marquee, on a lawn, outside the house, on a hill one aunty started to bounce, another began to rock and an uncle played the entire quarter-of-an-hour of air-guitar that necessitates being called, well, a legend, really…
At one point he started to falter, he was even lip-synching Frampton’s absurd/brilliant talk box solo, mouthing the words do you feel like we do and good night, good night, good night in time with Frampton’s axe and mouth-tube. But, yes, at one point he started to falter…and I knew I had to do something…
I leaped on to the dance floor, tagging myself in essentially (the referee must have left with the other guests?) and tandem air-guitared the final three-and-a-half minutes of Do You Feel Like We Do.
It was a scene from Outrageous Fortune transplanted to Havelock North. We were in our number ones, with shoes off to the side for dancing and we were carving it up. It was ridiculous and brilliant all at once.
And it was a classic example of music being a great bonding element – being a catalyst.
So, what outrageous song/s is it your fortune to share with family? Is there one song that would, for you and your loved ones, get, as Pink would say – the party started? Is there one song that would sum up your family’s party-mode, would get that reluctant aunt up and miming along with a dead microphone, would have your uncle polishing up a shiny new air-guitar, would have you yourself right in the middle of it and loving it all…or if you had to choose one song to sum up your family – dancing or not – what would it be? Would you feel like we do did?
Postscript: You are automatically disqualified if you pick Sister Sledge. Okay? There are limits.