Swap Beat

Swap Beat

I have detected a music rut. For some reason people keep coming to me and echoing the same sentiment as Nathan Durkee’s, “J-Hole, I need new music!” While I consider myself to have good taste in music, I’m not the most tech savvy, so it wasn’t clear to me why I was the likely sound-board for these complaints. Eager to meet this demand despite my information-sharing pitfalls, I put my creativity to work. My response to Nate and other friends’ requests was so well received and seamlessly executed that I even surprised myself! But what I found most surprising was that it hadn’t been done already before a million times, a million ways!

It’s simple really. I sent some invitations out in the mail to all of my closest and most music-appreciating friends (around 30 guests in all). I included with the invitation, a small 8 GB USB flash drive and the instructions to load 10 or so songs to bring to the music-sharing event. For weeks the swap beat was all the buzz in conversations among friends, “Have you started making your playlist?” “How many songs on your playlist?” “I’m nervous to put this song on my playlist”, etc. It was so fun to think about, talk about, hunt for, and compile a personal playlist reflecting one’s most current preferences. It was funny to see who spent a lot of time on the assignment and who waited until the last minute to complete their homework! Everyone’s individual personalities and tastes really shined through.

The party was the Monday of thanksgiving week so it served as a “friends thanksgiving” and gave us an opportunity to share our gratitude for the role of music in our lives. I carried the theme of the beat through to my flower design and opted for the big beautiful root vegetables submerged in vases with their green tops shooting out, in lieu of flowers. For food I made, and stacked on cake pedestals, piles of mini turkey cranberry sandwiches to spin off of the classic thanksgiving dinner (which we would all enjoy some variation of just days later). Everybody brought really wonderful contributions, like the mushroom risotto that had been freshly foraged for that morning by Ashley and Drew! Or the homemade mashed potatoes and a much-needed ladle to add to my kitchen utensil collection (thanks Anna & Sergio!)

The party was entirely lit by candles, which I think added to the ambiance of intimacy and swank.

The soundtrack to the party, and to the classic black & white noir film projecting without sound, was exclusively derived from attendees’ playlists. As each guest arrived, they dropped their drive into the ‘music-in’ basket and received a number corresponding to a bingo ball. As guests mingled, my tech savvy sound guy friend (Thank you Will!) loaded each drive onto a master playlist on a lab top. After all the drives were loaded and compiled, we jumbled and rolled a bingo ball from an old fashioned cage. Whosever’s number was produced via the random selector, chose one favorite track from their hit list to share with the party. Each person had a chance to shine and the whole process perfectly consumed the allotted three hours. By the time people were finished swapping, their drives were fully loaded and ready to be picked up from the ‘music out’ basket. Each of the individual lists were saved to the master list and then to all of the drives in separate labeled folders so that people could refer to who’s playlist each song originated.

Each guest left with a 328 song playlist! The after-party chatter about the gathering and peoples’ playlists was even better than the banter that led up to the event! The swap itself was great fun because everyone was so focused and unified that it made for such social cohesion! I think the physical USB drive created a sense of responsibility, I was committed to the cause and I invested in my guests; my trust translated to total inclusion! Only 2 guests declined and one was an out-of-towner. It was my favorite party I’ve ever planned or attended because everyone really participated and were thankful and everyone got to leave with a gift that keeps on giving! I don’t think that event could be beat! 🙂

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