Baku, Tuesday 27th February 2007
It is late on Tuesday night, we have had distinct chill with regular snow showers for the last three days and Spring is feeling very far away. My little open fire is roaring away valiantly across the room from me and I know that the bedroom will be wonderfully warm when I retire for the night. I still can’t help but notice that this city was designed for the many months of hot weather it usually receives rather than for the few days of ice and snow that occur at the other end of the annual weather spectrum. Roll on Summer.
Last night saw an other leaving party and it became a substantially longer soirée than the previous Monday, hence the belated report. There is nothing in the diary for next Monday yet but with several days to go anything is possible. Some sleep might be good; perhaps I’m getting old… If I had not enjoyed such a busy weekend I might be feeling a little less tired of course. Starting with Friday night (as most weekends do) I was at The Wok for a farewell dinner that later begat the aforementioned farewell party of last night. The dinner was a long, leisurely and lubricated affair so a lie-in on Saturday morning seemed entirely appropriate.
Saturday’s lie-in was also justified in the context of preparation for my first DJ gig in Baku which was scheduled for that night. A leaving party was the occasion once again, this time being held at the hostess’s apartment. Shirley has allegedly held some memorable parties during her time in Baku (I missed them all through being in London and Paris) so being asked to DJ at her final event seemed rather touching. As all of my vinyl and many of my CD’s are currently in storage in England I made it clear that I would be bringing a limited musical palette to the proceedings but all was expected to be well.
As it transpired, the majority of the crowd was of a more commercial and Latin-flavoured mind than my disc collection could satisfy. I therefore happily stepped aside to let a nice chap called Reynaldo play some of his salsa and similar during a busy part of the night. Reynaldo had stepped forward and asked very politely if he could borrow my equipment to play so I felt no qualms about his taking my place. A second party-guest-cum-DJ, Florian, proved to be more of a concern though. He initially walked up with the rather assertive offer of “if you want to take a break I can play for fifteen minutes” just after I had first spoken to Reynaldo. My response had been politely non-committal but evidently I had misjudged the calibre of the man.
Reynaldo’s set of Latin dance numbers had been hesitant but well chosen and the dance floor had responded well. After about half an hour a track he had started came to a sudden halt followed by a few seconds of silence before a contrasting piece of American pop music suddenly crashed in with its first couple of bars missing. I looked across the room to see that Florian had assumed the decks. What followed was quite a hideous experience on several fronts: the choice of songs, the utterly talent-less way in which they were thrown together and the ill-mannered arrogance of the man who was executing said horror with the full dancing support of the group of friends he had brought with him. To add insult to injury it transpired that he had not brought a single disc of his own but had raided Shirley’s collection and was putting a random assembly together using what he could find. Never before have I heard 2-Pac followed by Nirvana followed by The Blues Brothers mixed by the DJ equivalent of a one-handed myopic dentist wielding a pick-axe and I hope the experience will never be repeated.
Thank goodness for Sunday night and the restorative tonic that it provided. A new nightclub called Infiniti has recently opened in town and I noticed a couple of weekends ago that it was advertising a proper club night with a list of DJ’s and musical theme for the event. Not only was the basic concept a first in my experience of Baku (all the nightclubs I have visited play the same commercial music very badly) but the theme was also a novelty: drum and bass plus some electro breaks. Ten ’til six on a Sunday night was not the best timing for a commuting soul such as me but I vowed to go and show my support regardless. I arrived shortly after ten and some very current d&b was in full swing. Various older styles were visited over the following hour or so before a quick switch to the electro breaks that rapidly mutated into electro house, then tech house then hard trance; not quite what it said on the tin but a very encouraging mixture of music considering how there has been nothing like it on open offer during the whole year I have been here up to now. Next week the same venue is hosting electro, breaks and trance according to the flyer: I’ll be there.