Adventures of Mac the Scot on The Wheels of Steel

By Andy Ver Steegh

For the past year here at the Ol’ Collegium Macalestri, members of the Spinner’s Suite – known to most as the DJ club – have been one-upping the party shuffle on your iTunes, bringing a human touch to many of the dances in Kagin and the Campus Center. While the technology of DJing has advanced astronomically in the past two decades, and members of the group operate with a variety of formats— including CD and mp3— vinyl, for many, remains the gold standard of the DJing community. I recently had two members of the group go on record about records.Despite there being a large number of students who listen to vinyl, says Dale Rubin ’07, the number who DJ using vinyl at Macalester is small. “I think there are only about 3 or 4 vinyl DJs at Macalester, and when I arrived at Macalester in 2003 I was the only one I knew.”

Stuart Hudson ’08 pointed out the minor inconveniences associated with the large record collection that DJing usually entails. “If you have allergies or like your surroundings neat and tidy, records might become a problem once you develop a collection,” Hudson said, “Think of all the dust and weird smells you would not accumulate with an iPod.”

Any odor considerations, however, are more than balanced out by the benefits of DJing. For this community within a community records and turntables are not objects to be passively enjoyed; they are instruments to be used. “I play turntables as a

musical instrument,” stated Dale Rubin ’07, “I got into vinyl through scratch DJs and I practice constantly because I need to as an art form.”

For some, more mainstream instruments and DJing go hand in hand. Hudson said, “…drums got me into DJing and vinyl. Drums (or a sweet beat) are the foundation of almost all great music…after seeing Doug Pray’s “Scratch” I bought my first set of turntables. The ability to create music on turntables is so ridiculously awesome.”

This semester, the Spinner’s Suite, outfitted with new equipment, moved into the basement of Doty hall – a space that in recent years had seen only sporadic usage. However, during Thanksgiving break, the space was broken into and the equipment stolen.
“The Friday night/Saturday morning after Thanksgiving…someone broke a window,” Hudson said, “…when security got there 20 minutes later all the stuff was gone. Speakers, Turntables, mixer, handcart, everything.” The group hopes to relocate to another on-campus location in the near future, and retrieve the stolen equipment. “If anyone has any information about 2 Numark CDX turntables, 1 Vestax VMC 004 Mixer or a set of B52 Matrix 1000 speakers that would be great,” Hudson said.

Members of the group can be seen working their craft at most school dances in Kagin or the Campus center, including, recently, Choice-O-Rama. The focus at these events is not so much on the art of spinning, but rather on getting people to dance. Rubin said, “I usually try to DJ whatever I am told is the theme for the evening… I have done a couple 10K basement raves with almost exclusively dance music and even though I would never do that for fun, it’s something I can do with enough notice and/or money.” Hudson also indicated that members of the group are open to playing smaller venues, such as dorm rooms or houses.

All in all, it appears that recent setbacks won’t affect the core mission of the Spinner’s Suite.

“Once we get the equipment back, we can rock parties even harder,” Hudson said.