Sunday, December 09, 2007

That DJ down the hall

In college, one year my dorm floor had a resident named Vince who lived a few doors down from me. He was a computer science major but his true passion was for music--or rather playing (and making) music as a DJ. I don't exactly remember what my first impression was of Vince, but it was probably one of "Man, I'm glad he's not my roommate." He had a turntable (is that what it's called, maybe turntable/soundboard?) that could barely wheel in through the door of his dorm room, and once it was in there it took up about 20% of the room's free space.

However, as I got to know Vince better, I started to really respect him. Sure he had a magnetic personality, but more importantly, he seemed to be genuine. He came across as liking people in general and being happy to talk with anyone. He was a just a cool dude.

And he happened to take this whole DJ stuff pretty seriously. He had told us that he previously had some DJ gigs back when he was in Chicago (which is where he was from), and I think he got some gigs in Chambana too. However, when he had free time during the day, he'd be working that turntable all the time in his dorm room, honing his craft. And I do mean all the time. (If I had a nickel for each time I came home at 2 in the afternoon wanting to take a quick nap but would instead hear Vince scratching weird new beats to otherwise good songs...)

Vince the person was cool, but I had an inner conflict with Vince the DJ. Let's just say that as I continuously walked by his door throughout the year, judging his practice sessions in passing, many different thoughts went through my head. Sometimes I would think, "That doesn't sound difficult to do" or "He's messing up a good song" or "That song is so bad there's nothing he can do to save it." But I'd also have thoughts like, "Wow, it would be cool to be a DJ" or "He's doing pretty good with that one" or "How'd he do that?"

At some point I realized that when it came to being a DJ, Vince was the expert and I wasn't. As such, even if I didn't like some of his beats, there was no point in me trying to critique his craft because honestly I didn't understand it at the same level he did. And besides, these were his practice sessions that I was listening to. He was working hard to get better, finding out what worked for him and what didn't. It was quite possible that I could be walking past that door thinking to myself, "This one ain't working" and on the other side of the door Vince might have been thinking the same thing. Regardless, day after day, week after week, month after month, he kept at it; and for that, it was impossible not to appreciate his passion for being a DJ.

At the end of that year Vince left U. of I.'s CS program and headed back to Chicago. The last time I saw him he was just about to leave Chambana for good, and that final conversation felt too short. I was disappointed to see him go, and perhaps he wasn't exactly happy with the circumstances in which he was leaving. However, even then, I had this sense that, one way or another, "Vince would be back."

Well, I lost track of Vince through the years. along with most of the people I went to college with. As frustrating as it is, you can't keep in touch with all of them. Things move on and people get pulled in different directions. That's just the way it is in today's society.

But a funny thing happened not too long ago. I was driving in my car on the way home from work and switched the radio station over to Chicago's Hits and Hip Hop, B96, which I rarely do. There was some dance mix playing, and sure enough I thought of that guy named Vince back in the dorms who called himself "DJ Flipside." A few minutes later on the radio they were talking to a guy named "Flipside" and I thought, "No way..." But when I got home and Googled him I discovered that not only was it really him, he's apparently been pretty busy recently. In September 2006 he got his big chance at B96's Summer Bash where he brought the house down to rave reviews, which eventually enabled him to launch his new daily radio show: "Flipside at 5."

Way to go, Vince.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His practice definitely paid off. As a DJ myself, I don't ever like to "toot" anyone's horn, but he is an incredible DJ.