ROB JUDGES as part of HOT TIMES at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Friday (December 5). $5. 416-777-1777. Rating: NNNNN
Everybody's a DJ these days, or has a friend who is. It's not really a big deal any more, and most of the mystique is gone. Being good at beat-matching doesn't impress people now, and playing one sub-genre of a sub-genre flawlessly no longer draws many people. In the rave days, promoters crowded their flyers with dozens of DJs. Now it's more common to have dozens of styles of music listed and no DJ names.
The monthly Hot Times party feels like part of this growing trend of open-format DJ events, but in reality it's a concept that's been fermenting for a while.
"I started doing parties in 95, a night called Scheme," explains Rob Judges at a neighbourhood pub. "My friends and I were a bunch of dissatisfied partygoers at the time, and we wanted to hear all the music that we wanted to dance to in one place. We didn't want to have to go to different nights, so we started doing parties where we played everything."
He created Hot Times with Mike Wallace, who now does Evil Genius and was a former partner in Scheme.
"After a while, we realized that it doesn't take two people to do these parties, so we each decided to do our own, and they're both awesome. Evil Genius will play at our New Year's party, which will be a kind of reunion."
He likes to describe his night as one for "people who love music," and says an appreciation of hiphop will help you understand where they're coming from.
These are basically indie kids, though, so they spend a lot of time in record shops.
"With every party I've done, we've always played the latest stuff as well as the cool old stuff."
Against the trends that have developed over the past decade, you won't see any DJ names on the posters or flyers. You also won't hear of any international guest DJs, and so far there haven't been any live performances.
"My friend Adam DJs with me, and I occasionally have other friends join me, but I've never had any outside guests, just people I grew up with. I've never put my name on a flyer. I'm really not a DJ - I'm just a party guy."
Maybe it's because his focus is throwing a good night rather than making a name as a DJ that Hot Times does so well. Generally, it's packed, sweaty and full of smiling people - something a lot of promoters who are dropping serious money flying in DJs wish they could count on.
"There are a lot of really good DJs out there throwing really good parties, but I don't think they're promoting them well enough. People remember a party for how many people show up. It can make or break a party despite the music."