An exclusive extract from ‘The Secret DJ’
February 27, 2018 | by Hannah Marshall
In The Secret DJ (published on 7 June 2018) a globally recognised DJ takes us on a personal journey through a life in the hedonistic fast lane of club culture over the last thirty years. From world-class venues in Ibiza to local pub function rooms, this is less an instruction manual and more a cautionary tale, which will illuminate anyone who has harboured an ambition to fill a dance floor.
In this exclusive extract our intrepid explorer heads to the Winter Music Conference in Miami, but will he make it past airport security?
The next day was more America. There’s a lot of it. We did the usual colossal spastic jazz mess at check-in and waved goodbye to Baccarat, who was allegedly going back home, but we were certain that as soon as our backs were turned he’d be in a pink limo right back to gay New York. We were bound for our industry’s annual conference in Miami. A week-long sprawling debauch for the Brits, an opportunity to network for the more serious Americans.
The Winter Music Conference, or WMC, had set itself up in the 1980s as the go-to conference for the industry. Naturally, being American, the organisers really believed that. We normally had all our business done for the year by the time it came around, but it didn’t hurt to be seen there. Our hosts usually locked up all the booze, drugs and women when the Brits were due to arrive. We were still labouring under England’s bizarre Victorian licensing laws, which meant we tended to go at things like Vikings in a blind panic that everyone would stop serving us at 11 p.m., and God forbid the Queen might see us being badly behaved. The change in the UK laws didn’t undo this conditioning. The Brits drink hard, fast and noisy. I’m not proud of it. It’s embarrassing.
I often have to check my luggage for drugs. Usually a nice airport security staff member will do this for me, but I like to do it myself first. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no idiot. It’s futile and stressful to transport anything under prohibition, but people genuinely do throw drugs at you. Sometimes literally. With the best intentions in the world, they can put a ‘gift’ of drugs in your bags at the club. It doesn’t occur to them that in a few hours those same bags will go through X-ray scanners and past dogs and machine-gun-wielding hormonal steroid-beasts. Also there’s every chance someone like Tour Manager will put some in there completely innocently ‘for safe keeping’ and then immediately forget they are there. So it’s always best to check.
As we were due to board I went to the toilet and had a rummage. In a rarely used crevice I discovered a bag of
dried nonsense. I couldn’t quite work out what it was at first. I had a sniff and a feel. Looked like leaves or herbs,
but not marijuana. Possibly the remains of mummification or a satanic ritual. I went back out to the departures lounge.
‘I think I’ve got a large bag of magic mushrooms. I’m fairly sure they’ve been there since last summer and have since been through every airport in the world, utterly undetected. They must be worthless now.’
‘Mmm.’ Tour Manager was rarely interested in any drug other than the fast stuff. He had a sort of tangential, angular
wisdom in his dealings with drugs. He’d tried them all in fairly quick succession during the first couple of years and had ditched them all for meth. He had a strange logic: to him all the stimulants were fairly similar, so he settled for the most powerful, cheap and readily available. He hated alcohol so he never showed much interest in
depressants. There was only a small window of interest in MDMA and hallucinogens. He was known to have a wee dabble in the name of science.
I went over to the bar and ordered tea for two. With extra hot water. I ditched the teapot and put the contents
of the bag in the pot of hot water. I figured the mushrooms had been there so long they had to have lost most of their potency. Plus, we didn’t have time for any sort of brewing process – wheels would be off the tarmac in twenty.
‘URG!’ Tour Manager had a habit of saying words from 1950s children’s comics that were only ever written down, never spoken. ‘PPPFFFT! This tea is vile!’
‘Shut up and drink it.’ I felt bad-but-not-bad. You should never spike a friend, no matter how much it needs doing.
‘It’s psychedelic tea. It will open your mind.’
He had this weird thing of being incredibly difficult one minute and completely amenable the next. Sometimes he just wasn’t paying any attention at all. We both drank the tea.
I woke up feeling most peculiar.
I was on the plane but not actually on the plane. It looked like a plane’s interior but it was like a cartoon of a plane. Or rather a line drawing of one, a good draughtsman’s job of work. I was experiencing a strange sensation, as if I was floating. I turned to Tour Manager, who for once looked fairly beatific and serene.
‘I feel floaty.’
‘Am I flying? That is amazing.’
‘If you press that magic button up there, a sexy woman appears.’
‘Really? Wow, that is also amazing. Can I try?’
‘Please. Go crazy.’
‘Hahahaha.’ I pressed some buttons and a lovely lady appeared. I gestured to my tour manager.
‘He says I’m flying!’
‘He’s quite correct, sir. You are flying.’
‘That is just . . . amazing.’
‘It’s fairly commonplace, sir.’
‘Oh no. That is very cynical, madam. It’s a beautiful thing. You should try it.’ I turned to the seat next to me.
‘Aaaeeii! He’s vanished! Completely disappeared!’
‘I think he went to the lavatory, sir. Is there anything I can get for you?’
‘Please just bring him back! He’s not a bad person at all, just a bit different.’
‘I’m right here, you idiot,’ said a voice next to me.
‘Aaaah! How on earth do you do that?!’
‘Well, what happens is, you take loads of antique hallucinogens and I don’t.’
‘What? Where is the angel lady?’
‘She’s a boiler. You did a load of mushrooms before we took off.’
‘Of course I did, you old fool! I know that! So did you.’
‘You’re being an idiot, and no, I didn’t.’
‘Am I? Tsssst, hehehe . . . oooo. Watch! Watch! Watch this.’ I pressed the ‘call’ button again. The attendant
appeared once more.
‘Ppppfffftt . . . hhhhhhf . . . Excuse me . . . tssssfff pppffft hehehehehe . . . HOW HIGH ARE WE? Hahahahaha!
‘About thirty thousand feet usually, sir.’
‘Aaaah . . . hahahahahahahahaha! Hehehehe ffffft!’
Tour Manager intervened. ‘I’m terribly sorry, but he’s a bit simple.’
She looked at me like I was something on the bottom of her shoe and left. I could barely contain myself as I manfully tried to wait more than a few seconds before pressing the ‘call’ button again.
‘Can I get you anything, gentlemen?’ she enquired.
‘Ppppffffft . . . hfhfhfhffff. HOW HIGH ARE WE NOW!? Ahahahahaha.’
‘He’s a type of high-functioning savant. I’m his doctor, pleased to meet you.’ Tour Manager was doing his best to shine and was waggling his ridiculous eyebrows at her and doing his best impression of a civilian. Normality was not his strongest attribute, but coming from the aristocracy had its advantages.
‘Doctor!? Hahahahaha! Excuse me! EXCUSE ME! How high are we now? Pffffttttttt. Doctor!’
‘Yes, it’s quite sad really. I may need some help with him at the other end. I have to say, you seem like a very capable young lady. Perhaps you could assist me? Have you ever considered the nursing profession . . .?’ he warbled on in his best version of normal, but looking to me exactly like a humongous freak pretending to be something else really badly. The stewardess seemed to see through it too, as she was backing away as professionally as she could without actually bolting and causing a massive panic and possible explosive decompression.
‘Bit stuffy in here, needs a door opening,’ said Tour Manager, as he twisted both nozzles above me and sent a jet of Arctic air into my dry eyeballs, producing a reaction akin to being maced.
I don’t remember anything else.
The Secret DJ is published on 7 June 2018. Pre-order now by clicking here.