Philly’s Qool DJ Marv has spent over a decade spinning in some of the hottest nightclubs in the world. In this exclusive to TheUrbandaily he shares why he thinks the extravagance of bottle service has hurt nightlife and the art of DJing.
I have a strong opinion about bottle service and what it all stands for. Bottle service was the end of the model of the DJ as storyteller/ crowd motivator…person with the P.O.V. When it emerged it was the beginning of the end of that free spirited night life culture in Manhattan. You had parties where you heard different music, classic hip-hop and funk, all kinds. But the bottle service thing funneled it all into top 40, mash-ups and main stream rap. Before bottle service if you were presentable you could walk into a room. In the small bars and lounges you had the funky people, their whole point wasn’t to be inebriated from an entire bottle of vodka. You were there to be social, dance maybe have a couple of drinks, maybe one. Not to finish this entire bottle of vodka because you paid $250 for it. These are the middle-class, working people who just wanted to work off whatever they needed to work off with some music and some people. Bottle service says you can’t come in no more.
All you have left is the people who used to be at the bar at those cool spots who felt like they were cool because they were [in the mix]. You had a corporate gig and you’re in this bar with a guy with dreadlocks dancing and you’re thinking “wow, I’m somewhere cool.” Those people drove the economies of those bars and venues. Those people that were glad to be there because it wasn’t work. They weren’t around “Biff” and “Wellington”, it was “Ahmad” and “Jose”.You had the mix of funky people and the people that drove the bar and it was all good.
Then you had the geniuses that decided they were going to interpret the cabaret laws like “They can’t dance? Let’s charge them to sit.” It’s great for the capitalist but not for those paying a $200 entry fee.
What’s left? The people who think they can buy their cool, credit card cool. But they’re not cool. They’re using their credit card to express their coolness. They start looking around and nobody here has flavor. Because everybody here is like me, they all PAID for it. “Hey DJ, play something we know.” A DJ in that scene [becomes] a human jukebox to people getting as drunk as they can possibly get. That kind of energy needs that kind of music and I’m not any of that.
This place called Lotus opened up on 14th St and I got recommended to play there once by a guy that played there regularly on the weekend. And the manager comes to me during the middle of my set and he says “hey, you gotta pick it up. You gotta get it going.” I look around and see people dancing, etc. Then he says:
“Did so-and-so recommend you for this gig?
“Well play like so-and-so…”
They paid a lot at the time because they were charging people $200 plus to walk in the door. But I didn’t know how to be a robot, a human iPod. I didn’t know how to detach my whole point of view so that I could play street rap to 90% Caucasians scared to go to the streets. They’re looking at me like I should be their enabler, and it was weird.
I couldn’t play act it, I couldn’t suffer through it. My ex-wife was disappointed that Lotus gig didn’t work out, I was too. I didn’t know if I’d made some mistake. But I knew that wasn’t the place to be. It ended up being a mutual decision. They said I was too mellow and I said “Thank you! I’m out of here.”