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Ramon Brouwer aka DJ Nomar won the DJ contest of the wellknown house café in Amsterdam, TWSTD. Of course, he also remembers his first gig well. In 2014 he told me his story. “I handed Van Bellen his last record, he thanked me, took his stuff and left."
“My first gig? Hmm, let me think. Yes, it was in my hometown Uithoorn in youth center De Amstelkade. I don’t remember the exact date but it must have been in the spring of 1997. I was 21 and worked as a volunteer at the center. I had already handed them several of my demo tapes, hoping they would let me play at a house night. I had been practicing fanatically at home for two years and it was time to have a try-out in front of other people than my parents and my neighbours.”
“In those days, De Amstelkade sometimes hosted DJ nights, for which they invited popular DJs. Often a local DJ got the opportunity to play as well. Every time I saw one of my fellow villagers in the booth, I realized how much I wanted to stand in that spotlight.”
Joost van Bellen
“The night of my first gig, Joost van Bellen was the guest DJ. This meant that it was pretty crowded. Joost was, and still is, a well-known name in the house scene, also because he was the man of the in those days legendary club RoXY in Amsterdam. After a short while, it became clear though that Joost was too mellow for the Uithoorn crowd. From former house evenings they were used to something more powerfull, when DJs like Per, Cellie, JP and Fausto played.”
This was my moment!
“I remember walking through the room that night and simply sensing that something was off: the combination of Joost van Bellen’s music with the crowd. Van Bellen played his whole set, but before he stopped there was already some deliberation whether another DJ was in the house who could take over early. Joost had indicated that he didn’t feel like adapting his set and the local opening-DJ had already left. I seized the moment and told the organization that I was willing to pick up my records at home to take over. I was aware of the fact that they had listened to my demos and knew that I played a little rougher than Joost. On top of that, the place was filled with people who knew me personally and who would be happy for me getting this chance. The organization immediately said yes. Finally, this was my moment! I was ecstatic!”
Nerves versus adrenaline
“On trembling legs, I walked into the youth center. A few people hopefully asked: ‘Are you going to play?’ and ‘Play something different, because this sucks, way too soft’. It speaks for itself that I felt happy and special, but meanwhile I was extremely nervous. De expectations were high. Would all go well? This is what I had practiced for at home, all those hours, but this was also the real thing! Besides that, I had to step into the footsteps of the big Joost van Bellen. That gave an extra adrenaline rush.”
“There I was, in the DJ booth, next to Van Bellen. In front of me a large group of dancelovers, mostly from the area, ready to dance to tracks with a little more power. If I didn’t succeed, the room probably would empty up soon. With shaking hands, I put on my first record. Of course, I couldn’t go full-on immediately and wanted to take over in a flowing way. That is what I aim for until today. It’s impossible to exactly anticipate on another DJ, so I decided to play safe. I first faded out his track and then started one of my own with a beautiful intro. I felt more confident, handling it this way. The crowd immediately felt where I was going. The difference with Joost van Bellen was set. I remember very well with what record I started: TBM (Tribal Bass Of Montpellier with Rolling Stones Destroyed, released on the French label Pinquin Records. This record connected perfectly with Joost van Bellen’s BPM, but subtly went into another direction. A little more techno/tech house and a good opening track. I had plenty of harder stuff for later in my record case and aimed for a good structure of my set. That’s what I did with my demos so it felt familiar. Those first sounds, the intro, the beat that started, wow! I was in charge; the audience was happy and everybody looked at me and cheered. What an experience!”
“I handed van Bellen the record he last played, he thanked me, took his stuff and left. At that point, for me the world stood still for a moment. What a kick! The moment didn’t last very long. Naturally I had to pick out my next record, so I could do my first miss in front of an audience. I hadn’t had time to prepare the set and had just thrown some records in a case, to get back to the youth center asap. So, however nice that moment was, after the warm welcome, I wanted to hold on to that atmosphere. But most of all because it was my first gig! Soon I was ready for the next track. Quazar was a good follow-up. I must say, playing for a crowd was quite different from playing a home; I totally had to get used to the situation. It started with the volume in the area and consequently standing in the DJ booth. Still, that first mix moment went well. This boosted my confidence and after that I rocked the house.”
“I completely got the taste of it and the dance floor was packed, which motivated me even more. In the end, I played 1,5 hours that night, until the place closed. Everyone was super happy. All those hours of practicing at home and carefully choosing my records, finally paid off.”
“As for myself, after that set I literally floated from all the tension that I could finally let go of, the adrenaline and, most of all, the sense of relief that it went well. The energy and appreciation of the public, wow, I could hardly believe it. This was so cool! Being a DJ and standing in front of an audience that is grateful for your choice of records and complete goes nuts! I wanted to do this more often!”
“Lucky me, I was able to. With the start of the new season in the autumn, I was the resident DJ in De Amstelkade in Uithoorn. Not long after that I even organized my own evenings there. But there’s only one first gig and that’s the one you will always remember!”
This article is originally published on Thursday December 4th 2014 on DJMag.nl.