High-Society DJ Provides Another Reason To Hate Rich People

Dec 18th, 2006 // 14 Comments

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a front-page story on Tom Finn, a DJ to the upper crust who spins mostly for fancy-shmancy high-society events (he also was a member of the ’60s rock group the Left Banke, and served as one of Studio 54′s in-house DJs). For years, Finn’s been appearing at big-money Manhattan parties like the New York Botanical Garden’s fund-raising Winter Wonderland Ball, where no doubt rakes in some of that blue-blood green. So surely, if he’s in such high demand, he must be playing some of the most groundbreaking, daring, unexpected sets in the city, right?

At the Wonderland ball, he kicked off the dessert hour with Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You,” then, halfway through it, segued into “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Baby” by Barry White. Three couples took to the dance floor and did a few modest twirls.

Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” prompted a few more women to drag their husbands and dates onto the checkerboard, and they held the trains of their dresses and swung their elbows. Mr. Finn played “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer — “Paris Hilton’s mother loves when I play this, and I always play it with the vocals low, because she likes to take the microphone and sing over it,” he said — and then Madonna’s “Vogue,” “Dancing Queen” by Abba and “Bust a Move” by Young MC.

By the time he got to “What I Like About You” by the Romantics, just about everybody who was still in the tent — perhaps 175 of the original 250 guests — was cutting a rug….

“I learned at Studio that yuppies really like to dance to the music of their adolescence,” Mr. Finn said, as if to apologize for the lack of originality in his selections. “It’s not my job to educate them.”

Granted, no one wants to go to a holiday party and be treated to a 40-minute Philip Glass suite. But “What I Like About You”? “Bad Girls”? Why not just nix the DJ, and instead put Jock Jams Vol. 2 and the mix tape Jenny’s Awesome Farewell to ’82 on a continuous loop for three hours?

The D.J. Who Moves the Movers and Shakers [NY Times]

  1. mike a

    Psst, Tom. There’s $20 in it for you if you throw in “Barterers and Their Wives.”

  2. 12scoop

    Even if he does get beaucoup bucks for this stuff, that’s a pretty tall glass of scotch at the end of the night after sitting behind that rig in a penguin suit and playing three encores of “Shout.”

  3. 12scoop

    …eh, really nice scotch.

  4. janine

    What’s the alternative, seeing 50+ year olds dance to Sexyback or Goldfrapp or the new Ciara? Maybe I’m ageist, but yikes to that.

  5. Ned Raggett

    Oh don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of that in thirty years’ time.

  6. mike a

    Or even sooner. There are lots of 40something indie-rockers still clinging to that scene (uh, guilty as charged).

  7. Butch Huskey

    fastest way to clear a wedding or office party dance floor is to break out the “cool stuff” … most people at those functions get to dance once or twice a year so they don’t want to waste it on some white label mash-up … they want the “classics” or something “edgy” and by “edgy” i mean “sexyback”

  8. slutsguts

    re: bad girls-”Paris Hilton’s mother loves when I play this, and I always play it with the vocals low, because she likes to take the microphone and sing over it”

    something so depressing about that

  9. kiteless

    or wonderfully liberating.

  10. janine

    Thanks, Ned. You just made my boobies droop a little.

  11. The Mozfather

    I agree with Butch. What’s weird is not that 40 year olds are dancing to music from twenty years ago, it’s that most 20 year olds won’t dance to anything but music from 20 years ago.

    Why are most young people unwilling to dance to music unless they remember hearing it as a child? Is it because its such a horrific psychic dislocation for them to dance that they need the warm-bath comfort of “Faith” or “Material Girl”?

  12. Dickdogfood

    I’m not sure it’s that; rejecting the high-profile music of today is one of the easiest ways for a teen/young adult to mark themselves as “discerning,” not beholden to the dumb fads that dumb people like. (They can also mark themselves as discerning by lovin’ lower-profile contemporary stuff, but that takes a little more work.)

    Also, liking the “dumb” music of yesterday is a safer option than liking the “dumb” music of today: you can do a nice fanny-shake to Debbie Gibson or Tiffany and shrug it off as mere ironized nostalgia, a luxury you don’t necessarily have with a fanny-shake to Christina or Britney.

    That said, I don’t actually have evidence that 20yos are all that hesitant to dance to the music of today!

  13. Ned Raggett

    Thanks, Ned. You just made my boobies droop a little.

    Somewhere, out there, on YouTube, are the promos MTV did back in the eighties set in the future where various kindly old people talked about rocking out to Van Halen in their youth. The future is now.

  14. The Mozfather

    I am speaking from personal experience. I know its early 90s, but I really don’t need to dance to “Common People” ever again, despite its magnificence.

Leave A Comment