Wednesday, 22 June 2005

Hotel DJs

Daniel Altman, an old friend and former TF (and part time DJ, if I recall right), comes up with an article in the New York Times about hotel DJs:

Once it would have been unheard of to see a D.J. anywhere except in a dance club, a radio studio or behind a folding table at a wedding or bar mitzvah. In the last several years, though, D.J.'s have been popping up all over the place - music shops, department stores, bars and now, with apparent success, in hotels.

One of the trailblazers is Stéphane Pompougnac. He began his career in the clubs of Paris, then, in 1997, the two-year-old Hôtel Costes approached him to play in its restaurant. Soon, after trading his dance-floor sound for a loungier style, he was attracting more attention than he had in the clubs.

Ignoring the annoying Times house style of using the apostrophe for the plurals of acronym ("DJs" looks so much cleaner than "D.J.'s" to me), I thought it was a pretty interesting article - funny how Pompugnac has become such a superstar. To be honest, I've not been following the house scene as closely as I used to, so I didn't know about the Hi Hotel and the F Communications connection. It's clear that hotel sets give DJs the chance to be a bit more eclectic, and play something beyond the standout "chillout" set - some soul music, for instance.

I'm in two minds about the Hotel Costes series: it's good music, but it's become such a cliché. And - more a dig at some of the people who play it rather than the series itself - it tends to be played as background music, a form of aural design element. Alex Gimeno, DJ at the Soho Grand, had some good quotes on that related idea:

[Gimeno] also took issue with the volume: "It's a bit low. There's a good chance that some people will think it's a CD player."

Mr. Gimeno's worst fear, he said, was to become "wallpaper" for the hotel. "I'm constantly looking at the floor, seeing who's coming in, who's going," he said. "I'm also thinking of the workers here. I don't want to bore them to death, either."
That dig at the music becoming "wallpaper" is great, partly because the Soho Grand is precisely the kind of place that would appear in Wallpaper* - it's a apt reminder of the importance of musical substance over musical style.

I suppose the fear of becoming mere background music is the parallel to the fear that abstract artists had of their art becoming mere decoration:
"A conscious decision to eliminate certain details and include selective bits of personal experiences or perceptual nuances, gives the painting more of a multi-dimension than when it is done directly as a visual recording. This results in a kind of abstraction... and thus avoids the pitfalls of mere decoration." - Wayne Thiebaud
Tangentially: the Soho Grand does have dog food on room service, and leashes and chew toys and dog bowls. Would that all hotels were this pet-friendly.

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You're right about Hotel Costes being cliched. I think the best part of being a DJ is the digging. To know you have tight records no one within a 50km radius will own :)

You should come back to House. Sooner or later, everyone touches base with House :)


Just wondering, a friend of mine wants to put on a night here playing German microhouse (eg. Kompakt, Bpitch stuff). Would you come to such a night, if it happened? And do you know any venues (venues for dancing, as opposed to just drinking) that would be receptive to it?


I know admittedly very little about the German house scene, but I would probably go to such a night out of curiosity. As for venues - hmm. I'm really not sure - probably a smaller club on a weekday?


The SoHo grand and the Tribeca Grand both had DJs when I stayed there, I was working long hours and would come back to the hotel wanting piece and quiet but would get thumping annoying music instead.

Allowing pets is cool though.


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