While wandering around San Diego this past weekend, I happened upon a garage sale in one of the neighborhoods I used to haunt when I lived there. With a few more minutes to waste before meeting up with friends I stopped to peruse their offerings. It was the call of vinyl (albums, 33’s, 45’s, singles, 12″ and 7″ alike) that usually found me peeking through boxes at garage sales looking for a treasure here and there, but this weekend without an agenda and without having really shopped for records in a very long time, I was shocked at what I found.
At first I didn’t even see it. The vibrant purple had faded into a muted color that my eyes swept right over. It helped that the bulk of it was hidden behind a few other odds and ends too. But, eventually, I came around to it as I picked my way through the sale. The color may have faded, but the places where I had forever marred the paint job by taping over the beat indicators (so I could learn to beat match by sound rather than sight) let me know it was definitely mine. Somehow the very first mixer I had ever bought for dj’ing had found it’s way to that garage sale.
It was a simple thing. A Numark two-channel mixer, once a brilliant (almost neon) purple with splashes of red along the sides. It had served it’s purpose well, giving me a device to learn on before I was ready to upgrade to something a little more industry standard. I had sold it to a friend while I was still living in San Diego when they too had felt the beats flowing in their veins and had wanted to attempt to control them, shape them, and spin them out for others to enjoy.
As I ran my hand down the columns of knobs I thought back to the day I purchased it. I was visiting my brother in Arizona, the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years in college, and I had been driven to buy a full setup of dj equipment even though I had no idea what I was doing yet. That night, after also buying two Gemini direct drive turntables, a few speakers, a couple records, and a receiver, we threw a little party at his place where I had my first real taste of dj’ing.
I was terrible, of course, but that was to be expected. What followed was three years of learning, throwing parties, practicing, and eventually getting good enough that I was able to start playing out at a few clubs and parties around San Diego. I didn’t get paid much, and it wasn’t a regular gig, but I still had some good memories and each of them came flooding back as I looked down on my old mixer.
I once dj’ed with a friend for a private party on a harbor tour boat. The first time I played at a real club downtime my brother and all my friends came out to see me. As I was the opening time slot they were the only people in the place, but it was fantastic they were all there, and once my set was over we all went to a different club and watched The Crystal Method create their madness live. I once opened for MARS. I once played at an actual underground warehouse party. Sure, my friend threw that party, but it was still in a warehouse, and it was still very much not a legal event.
I lifted my hand off the mixer and moved on. Part of me very much wanted to ask how much they wanted for it and take it home with me. However, while it held good memories, it was no longer my treasure. I left it there for someone else to find it and one day make their own memories beat matching, record swapping, floor pounding, party driving.
Looking at my watch I realized I had tarried too long and returned to my truck to go about my day. The smile I wore then lasted all through the weekend.