Heroes of the Dance floor
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With the growth of nightclubs, DJs are spinning both
fortune and fame
It's past midnight in Delhi. The roads are deserted except for a few proprietorial stray dogs. But a popular nightclub is full to capacity and the action is heating up. The DJ has just spun a saucy number, with a pronounced bass line and a melodious strain. A sea of hands rises on the dance floor, as though in mock worship of the force behind the mixer. "The crowd always gets revved up by this number. It has never failed," says DJ Mash, speaking above the din. He flashes a victory sign to the enthusiastic crowd at the F Bar and Lounge at Delhi's, The Ashok, as they pump the floor to his remix of Jerome Isma-Ae's Tomorrow fused with Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Mash has been the nightclub's resident DJ since it opened in 2008. Six years ago, he was Manish Mendiratta from Gurgaon, an audio engineer from Australia. He metamorphosed into DJ Mash following an amateurish attempt to deejay for a friend's party. And has been hooked to the sound system, headphones and disco lights ever since.
But he is only one name in a growing number of DJs. The proliferation of nightclubs across India has made this an attractive profession, one that fetches good money and even some fame. Thirty-year-old Alka Gulati became DJ Alia three years ago, after she quit her job as a freelance photographer. She now mostly guest deejays at clubs and private parties. "Music was always at the back of my mind. Becoming a DJ made sense," says Gulati, known mainly for her house music.
Internet and new technology have worked in favour of younger DJs, giving them easy access to music but not always improving the quality. "Standards have dipped, as deejaying is now software oriented. We started on vinyl records and carried a single stylus (for the vinyl player), which cost Rs 6,000. Once it broke, we did not have a replacement," says DJ Sunny Sarid, who first started deejaying during the '80s and remains partial to the older systems.