Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Chicken Dance

Mesa is home to tens of thousands of "snowbirds" from Boise, Edmonton, Toronto, Detroit, Minneapolis and other points north- they spend the winter months here in Arizona. Last year, one of the RV parks here in town hired me to play at a dinner/dance for the aforementioned snowbirds. They have a club house that is just about as nice as any of the hotels or golf clubs. It is a job that I would normally have referred to another- perhaps older- DJ but since I was still the new guy in Arizona, I took the job. As I arrived that night in a velvet Jimi Hendrix jacket and some Gene Simmons type boots and various other leather and chrome implements, they looked at me like they were smelling onions, but I quickly won their confidence and before the night was out, they were swinging from the chandeliers! That night, they hired me back for one more event before they headed north in early April. Today, I played for the 40th birthday of the RV park. They filled the room to its 300 person capacity for lunch at noon, cake at 1PM and dancing until 4PM.

Afternoon events are tough on dancing in any case so I was not expecting much but intended to give it my best shot. The room had some lovely skylights that really lit up the room mid-day. I was there a bit early and began with some music to enjoy while they were making final preparations for lunch and that's when the day started to slide down the rathole.

The activities director at the RV park wished to make the announcements. She had her own wireless mic and although I would have done it for her she was adamant that she should do it. She was already plugged in to their house sound system. She indicated that she would release the tables one at a time to go get food and because of the poor quality of the house system, lots of people couldn't hear her (She didn't "command" the room either, like I would have) So lots of people began getting in line and she started shouting over the mic for them to SIT THEMSELVES DOWN and that SHE would release them! Then she skipped the tables that had dared attempt to get in the lunch line uninvited and didn't come back to them until all other tables were served. Retirees can be a bit cranky and this was not sitting well with them.

The caterer was grilling up some chicken halves. Sounds lovely doesn't it? After being shouted at and then finally served, a few people started walking back up to the chow line with bloody chicken, then a few more, and more. Finally those who had been skipped over, who were finally in line, were told to sit down again- that they were going to go and throw the chicken back on the grill.

I can't fathom what caterer would want to accept the liability of cooking raw chicken on a charcoal grill in a mobile application in any case, particularly with recent salmonella scares in the peanut industry. Salmonella is common in raw chicken! I would have thought they would pressure boil it first to insure that it is cooked safely and then transport it to the event and throw it on the grill for some color and some flavor. I'm just an idiot DJ, what do I know? As quickly as the meal was over, the room cleared out, we went from 300 people to 35. I had about 24 of the 35 dancing at one point to Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" and then we went down to about 18 people at 2PM and then we were down to about 8 people at 2:15PM.

They were having a drawing for a $300 gasoline card at 3:45 and you had to be present to win... about 150 people came back at 3:40 and were gone at 3:46. During the quiet time, I re-packed all of the non-essential equipment and put two of the four speakers back in the van. After the drawing, I played Van Halen's "Happy Trails" and was out the door at about 3:55. It's just after 4PM on a Saturday and I'm home from work already.

I'm sure some heads are gonna roll on Monday at the RV park.


Lauri said...

Some people just like being in charge (but shouldn't be!)

Cynthia said...

There's nothing like blood dripping from your lunch plate.
It's nice to be home from work at 4 o'clock in the afternoon though.