Behind the booth

By SCOTT KEARNAN  |  January 23, 2013


Every weekend needs a good, sweaty Hookup. Launched this month, this weekly Sunday party at Emerald Lounge features a collective of rotating DJs who are favorites on Boston's gay scene — like Nate Bluhm, Michael Brodeur, Joseph Colbourne, and Brian Halligan. But if it's Katy Perry remixes you seek, look elsewhere. "It's not your typical gay club sounds," says Bluhm. "The DJs own the night." These dudes tend to attract a diverse crowd that prefers a motley mix of glittery retro jams, old-school R&B, pumping house, and throwback alternative. Bonus: the Hookup starts at 8 pm, so old fogies in their 30s can hit the dance floor — and then the hay — at a reasonable hour.

But how does the actual musical magic happen? Each DJ has his own gear, but we stopped in while DJ Brian Derrick was spinning to get a novice-appropriate primer on his Pioneer DDJ-ERGO — and learn how this Hookup partner hits all the right buttons. Ooh, baby.

A_Turntables are for vinyl. In a digital age, these silver platters are called jog wheels. But they have the same function: apply pressure to scratch, and to "bump" the BPM (beats per minute) of one song so that it smoothly mixes with another. Each wheel is surrounded by other vital doodads that constitute its respective "deck."

B_Pros mix by ear, but this controller also offers a neat visual aid for those who still need training wheels. The glowing ring around each jog wheel has a spinning red light that intersects, on the beat, with stationary blue lights. When two tracks are lined up, you can see the colors on each ring "hit" at the same time. If only they could ensure our dance moves are in sync.

C_Have you ever had moments in life you wish you could jump to with the push of a button? That's what hot cues are for. Except they allow you to immediately summon preset points of music, not, say, 5 pm on a Friday.

D_These are volume slides. There's one for each deck. Guess what they do.

E_This is a gain dial. There's one for each deck. This part is slightly more complicated. Here's the short version: volume determines the output of sound level from the controller, whereas gain determines the input of sound level to the controller from, say, a laptop's music library. Not all song files were originally recorded at the same level, which requires DJs to adjust the gain.

F_Moving the crossfader toward the left and right decks allows you fade in one audio and fade out the other, which would also come in really handy in relationships.

G_The control dial allows the DJ to select an effect to apply to the music. (They're adjusted via the numbered parameter dials directly to the right.) For instance, there's the recognizable flanger effect. You know, that whooshing one that sounds like a jet plane taking off? And that makes you take your shirt off and dance on a box? Yeah, that one.

H_The sampler lets the DJ cue preloaded audio samples — maybe a siren, or some reggaeton horns, or some dude yelling, "Reeeeeee-mix!"

200 Stuart St, Boston
Sundays from 8 pm to midnight
No cover
617.457.2626 or


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  Topics: Music Features , Joseph Colbourne , gay
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