DJ Spen Recalls Last DJ Gig Before COVID-19 Lockdown

DJ Spen Quantize

In the latest installment of our Last DJ Set series, where DJs are remembering their last gig before lockdowns and travel bans went into effect, Baltimorean DJ Spen rewinds to his last set in March.

“I am really glad I did the event in LA because it was just a group of people who for a few hours threw all their cares away,” Spen tells us.

Read on to learn more about the gig and what Spen has been doing during lockdown.

When and where was your last DJ gig?

DJ Spen: A private party in Los Angeles on March 17. There is a pretty affluent businessman out there who hired me for his wife’s birthday party last year and we have developed this friendship. He brought me over to DJ his close friend’s birthday.

How did it go?

The party was great. It was a fairly small affair as LA had just instituted some restrictions that same day or maybe the day before. Everyone was singing and dancing. It was almost like they all knew this would be the last fun night for a while. I tried not to blast the music too loud because I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be there really. It was so strange to step out onto the streets of LA. It was a ghost town.

What was your mindset going into it? Where had you played previously?

I kind of knew what to expect. It was a crowd that loves their music, crossing genre lines. But the host and the guest of honor both love house so I was ready. I actually flew to LA from London.

I had one gig in Minehead up north in the UK the night before. Honestly, I didn’t know if that gig was going to still happen until a few hours before. Even though there was the possibility of cancellation, I still flew over.

My wife was in London with friends for a couple weeks and I didn’t want her to fly back to the States alone. So we took the long drive up north from London and had just a few hours to rest and have dinner before the gig. That was a really strange night as there was just a lot of uncertainty in the air. Joey Negro was scheduled to come on after me, so I called him and he didn’t have any different information. We both planned to just show up and play. It was supposed to be a weekend-long event but in light of everything going on, a lot of people had left the festival grounds already.

The crowd was fairly small (at least compared to what I would expect at that kind of event). You could almost feel a strange tension in the air. I played and Joey arrived as I was finishing up. We kind of just did an elbow touch and I left the venue as soon as I finished. I flew to LA the next morning.

Did any tracks, in particular, go over especially well during that gig?

Thommy Davis ft. Tasha LaRae and Sheila Ford ‘s “Hot Shot” went over really well. The crowd was really into it and that was nice.

What is your best memory from that gig?

The crowd’s reaction to “Hot Shot,” which was unexpected.

Everyone can’t wait for clubs and festivals to begin again. What do you miss most about DJing? How are you keeping your skills sharp?

I miss the crowd’s reaction and interaction the most. With our new virtual world, I am almost DJing more than ever before. I have also really gotten a chance to listen to other DJs which I almost never get a chance to do. That has been really good.

A lot of DJs have been doing live streams and working on tracks. What have you been working on during the lockdown? How can fans support you right now?

I have been doing live streams and never would have thought I would be doing that. Of course, I am continuing to run the label and I released a track with Crystal Waters called “Party People” which was really fun to work on and of course an honor to work with Crystal. We did a virtual record release for her and that was nice. I plan to finish up a DJ Spen album this year. I have been streaming on Twitch and have started building my Mixcloud, so people can definitely support me through those platforms and, of course, by checking out some of the amazing music we have on the Quantize label.

Any last words on your last gig?

There is not too much to say about it because the world was about to go into a lockdown situation. The people that were there to party definitely partied and I am glad I was a part of their memories of the last party before the lockdown. I am sure I will always remember it for that reason. I am really glad I did the event in LA because it was just a group of people who for a few hours threw all their cares away.

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Darren Ressler

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