A recent excavation of my basement uncovered a trove of ancient mixtapes, compilations I made up for my car (gawd, I can’t even remember how many cars ago had a cassette player). They need a little TLC before they can be played again–no doubt they’re quite dried out–but I’d love to see what they contain.
I think there are several unmarked tapes that feature Chris Shepherd spinning live-to-air on CFNY sometime in the late 80s/early 90s. Those were some great sets.
This brings me to a Boing Boing article recommended by Peter which reports on the SF Disco Preservation Society, a group that’s digitizing as many DJ mixtapes from the 80s and 90s as they can.
The art of the club mix — equal parts curation, imagination, and rhythmic skill — is something that’s evolved over the decades in different ways in different cities, with DJs finding influences both locally and internationally. But before the explosion of file-sharing in the early 2000s and the widespread accessibility of digitized music a few years later, DJ sets were things you only ever experienced live in the nightclubs themselves, unless your friend was a DJ and copied a cassette for you — or unless that DJ was famous enough to have a record label and a few CDs.
Read on and listen to some samples.