Things College Taught Me About Making Dance Party Playlists

[Editor’s Note: What follows is a guest blog from only the second-ever male DDPP Chicago DJ. It, like Nolan himself, is a delight. The .gifs may take a while to load, or may even need to be opened in separate tabs but trust us, they’re worth it.]

Story time! Months ago when DJ Ssssnake and I were on a boat party in the Persian Gulf, we discovered we were basically the most kindred of spirits. She handed me her phone to supply some party tunes for other passengers, and in the next few minutes, we learned the following: (1) Not only do we have the same taste in lady rappers, she was in the music video for my favorite Kid Sister song ever. (2) We were feet away from each other at the same Valentine’s Day Robyn concert two years ago. (3) Our iPhone lock screen passwords follow the same pattern and are one digit apart. #TWINS

So when she said she trusted me enough to make a Dance Dance Party Party Playlist even though, as a dude, I can never actually join you all in such rhythmic revelry, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce the world to DJ Lil’ Noleum — because like linoleum, I’m always on the floor.

As ridiculous as my DJ name is, making a playlist for you all was something I took very seriously. I had to recall some important collegiate life lessons to make it happen:

1. The best college parties had themes. It just so happened that the day I signed up to make a playlist was the day after my college graduation, which meant plenty of time for reflection…and a challenge to see how many references to my post-college life I could squeeze into an hour of music: Vitamin C was an obvious choice, as was Azealia Banks — now that I live in New York, I literally am in the 212 on the uptown A train like everyday. Nicola Roberts makes a sweet graduation reference in her colorful solo debut, “Beat of My Drum” and “Deceptacon” even had a reference to linoleum floors that could not be ignored. Also, fun fact: Le Tigre’s Johanna Fateman went to my high school, where I also graduated from four years ago. #meta

But here’s where I messed up: though I had a musical theme running through the 19 songs I selected, I forgot that the best college parties I went to were theme parties with costumes. So, let’s make a pact, DDPP — next time we meet, let’s rock our best Spring Breakers attire?

2. Every body of work needs a strong introduction. I always took creative license with my college papers, which is probably why the teaching assistant’s comments on my first-ever paper freshman year told me to stop using symbols and cuss words in my titles (he also told me to cut back on the semi-colons; f#@% that, right?). But he was right in reminding students that every project needs to pull in the reader right away. So how do I invite a dozen or so women I’ve never met before to immediately throw down after a groovy Kylie Minogue warm-up? By picking a mashup of two artists whose fanbases — I think — add up to basically the entire music-listening population of the universe. Here is a handy Venn Diagram I made to illustrate this theory:

3. Hard work pays off, even if you’re not the brightest crayon in the box. I don’t know how many loyal dancers check the song database to keep track of what’s been played over the years, but the big book of Songz has been my lifeblood over the past few months. Making playlists doesn’t come naturally to me. I struggle with building the right momentum, making seamless segues and making sure all musical tastes are covered (not just my affinity for globe-trotting pop divas, though I hear you ladies like them, too). So I had to do what any well-intentioned student would do — hit the books! Each day after work I would come home and pore over years of data in hopes of concocting something special for my DDPP debut. When I wasn’t pestering DJ Ssssnake on Facebook about whether a song was too weird, I was mixing and matching alternate playlists to leave no option untested. The next morning, I’d listen to my mix on my commute and take notes on the subway of how I could make it better. The fate of future dude contributors possibly depended on it!

4. When all else fails, dance like this. This point actually has nothing to do with college, but I am very proud of this .gif because I spent four hours making it myself on a lazy summer day. It is a mesmerizing .gif, is it not? If you want to know what it’s like to have Lil Noleum’ at your dance party, just picture me doing this for an hour, while also doing this with my arms.

(Dance moves come courtesy of Cheryl Cole, who sadly didn’t make it into my playlist, but who obviously deserves some credit here for bringing hammer pants back, amiright?)

Now, for the tunes:

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4 thoughts on “Things College Taught Me About Making Dance Party Playlists

  1. I love the playlist AND the blog SO MUCH. All that time was well spent. Also, all alternate playlists on my computer now, plz.

  2. Transferring this post to our WordPress was simultaneously one of the more delightful and tedious tasks of my week. What DJ Lil’ Noleum failed to mention is that while we were on that dhow boat, we also learned that our birthdays are less than a week apart. Because of course they are. And seriously, that Ke$ha song slaaaaaaaayed.

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