A lifetime ago, I was a DJ. I was lucky and happened to be in the right place at the right time. This led to some rather cool work. I’ve detailed some of the stuff I did here and here. I was fortunate enough to DJ abroad on a number of occasions, from Budapest to Berlin, San Francisco to Slovenia and so on.
One of my favourite trips was to Zurich in Switzerland. It was arranged by Swiss music producer called Reeto Von Gunten. We moved in similar musical online circles and when the chance came for me to DJ in Zurich, I leapt at it.
Reeto picked me up at the airport. He was a smart, good looking fella. I was a ruffled, short Scottish man. Nevertheless, I felt welcomed and comfortable in Switzerland. The place was beautiful.
There was quite a few hours to pass before the gig, which was taking place at a club called Mascotte. I was given a quick tour of Zurich, which started with a trip to a record store. I remember a rare looking 12” of the Sugarhill Gang’s Rappers Delight which I didn’t buy and regretted ever since. We then stopped by a coffee shop and Reeto chatted to a few folk.
In fact, Reeto chatted to a lot of folk. Walking down the street, it seemed like every second person said hi. It was noticeable. How can he know this many people? I knew Reeto as being like me – a mash-up producer who did other music production things on the side. Was there something I didn’t know?
Reeto had asked me in advance what I wanted to do about food when I was here. I’d recently been DJing in lots of countries and I’d resolved, wherever possible, to eat the local delicacies. In this case, that meant fondue. We went to a specialist restaurant to break my fondue cherry.
I learned about the traditions of eating a fondue in Switzerland. If you drop a piece of bread, you have to kiss the person to your left. (It was just me and Reeto, so that wasn’t going to happen). You drank kirsch, copious amounts, while eating. When the cheese melted to the bottom of the pot, that was called a Granny. Apparently, everyone fought over that bit.
The most important thing I learned about fondues was that they are incredibly delicious. Unimagineably so. I previously assumed that it was just a pot of melted cheese but I was wrong. It’s so much more. Wine, garlic, a subtle blend of swiss cheeses and some weird magic stuff. There had to be. There’s no other explanation for just how incredible it tasted.
I asked Reeto about all the people in the street who knew him. He modestly told me that he had been a breakfast show DJ on DRS3 (Swiss equivalent of Radio 1!) for a few years. Hold the bus! Reeto was a celeb? I was sauntering around Zurich with a bona fide household name and I didn’t have a clue. I knew him as a fellow music noodler (and he was good) but that was it. Bizarre twist.
We headed up to the club. It was a large, high ceilinged room with a balcony. We were at the far, back wall along with a long bar. There were lots of low sofas around us. It was glam..
The doors were to open at 10pm. Reeto was due to DJ between 10 and midnight and then I was going on from midnight to 2am.
Now, here’s the thing. I like DJing. I hate waiting around. I also thought it was a bit unfair that Reeto was landed with the early shift. I had an idea. What if Reeto and I DJ’d together, doing a couple of tunes each then switching over, for four hours? I’d done this before with other DJs and it worked a treat. As a species, we try to outdo each other which makes for an entertaining listen. Reeto said yeah.
The doors opened, we span some tunes and people filtered in. The influx of people was pretty steady. We were having fun, following up each other’s tunes, getting inspiration and DJing tongue in cheek. Soon, the place was busy. Not long after 11, the dance floor was full and the place was bouncing. This is what you aim for as a DJ. Sometimes it all works and it’s amazing. Sometimes you wish you were 1,000 miles away. Luckily, this was definitely the former.
The manager came over. A small crowd of folk were at sofas next to the DJ booth. He brought tequilas for me and Reeto, who had a huge grin on his face. I asked him what was happening. “This!” he said. “You don’t understand. People just don’t dance before midnight in Zurich”! The manager was clearly very happy.
The four hours passed in a blur. By that point, the flight, fondue and evening had exhausted me. I returned to my hotel, and to prepare for my return journey the following day.
I’ve never been back, but I would like to. I’d very much like to take my wife to that same fondue restaurant, sit her to my left and repeatedly drop my bread into the cheese. 😀