THE MAX FACTOR
In which our very own minister of sound,joins Britney Spears to share the love with kids made homeless by Hurricane Katrina, but is promptly silenced
THERE WAS NO shortage of Hollywood glitz and glam this month as I was engaged to play at a charity dinner in Beverly Hills hosted by Britney Spears in aid of the St Bernard Project.
The project is a Louisiana-based charity that helps rehouse those still homeless from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. Spears, an ambassador for the project, had organised an intimate dinner and auction for family, friends and supporters of this worthwhile cause.
The event was held in a spectacular hillside home owned by entrepreneur Rohan Oza, a close friend of Spears. My DJ booth had been precariously erected just a few inches from a stunning infinity pool, with a spectacular view of the city below. On seeing the set-up, I gave a prayer of thanks that I was a good swimmer – with a second prayer to ask that I remain dry all evening.
As the guests began to filter in a little before sunset, they were greeted with an array of aperitifs, including Britney’s own recipe for a sweet iced tea, which she’d prepared especially for the night. Among the celebrities in attendance were Kim Kardashian, Kelly Osbourne, Hilary Duff and 90210 actress Shenae Grimes, as well as fellow Billboard chartbusters Selena Gomez, Victoria Justice, Christina Milian and Taryn Manning.
The hostess arrived shortly afterwards, dressed in a green Hervé Léger dress and dazzling in a pair of diamond drop earrings and a breathtaking ring of blue sapphire and white diamond provided by renowned jeweller Geraldo, who was also an official sponsor of the evening. In addition to Spears’ attire, he’d set up a magnificent centerpiece in the entrance area for guests to admire as they walked in. Spears was accompanied by her boyfriend and family, including her sister Jamie and her father – who created a number of the dishes with the chef to be served at dinner.
I began the evening with a chilled, dubbed-out selection of cocktail-sipping delights to get the attendees in the mood for the evening to follow. Then, once the sun had set, I handed over to a group of live jazz musicians who’d been flown in from New Orleans for the night to add to the Southern-flavoured hospitality on offer. They played an upbeat and vibey set of jazz and rhythm and blues, which entertained the guests until it was time for them to sit down for dinner.
As everybody took their seats, I took to the decks once more, keeping my selection light and breezy, lest I get the guests too animated prior to the auction.
The auction prizes included VIP tickets to a Britney Spears concert with backstage meet and greet; tickets to a Prince concert; a rare painting of Prince donated by Live Nation; an African safari; and the main prize of a spectacular Diamond Snowflake pendant by Geraldo Jewellery.
The auction raised a large sum for the charity. Once it was over it was time to ignite the party and get the guests moving. I’d prepared a dynamite set comprising all kinds of crowd-pleasers, old and new, and as the applause subsided, I cranked up the volume and launched into the opening track.
The guests took no warming up and immediately the bodies began to swing and grind in time to the beat. I had an endless succession of guests coming up and complimenting me on my choice, which certainly seemed to have struck the right chord. With every track I mixed in, the energy of the crowd seemed to elevate higher and higher as they threw themselves wholeheartedly into the music.
Sadly, as is so often the case in my profession, my performance didn’t find favour with everyone, and I was just six songs into my set when the constabulary arrived to put an end to the revelries. Since the event was held outdoors, it seemed that some of the neighbours were far from impressed by our volume levels and had called in the troops to pull the plug.
Despite the guests’ and my protests that it was only 10pm and that we would willingly lower the volume, I was assured by the boys in blue that this was the way things are run in the always peaceful and ever idyllic neighbourhood of Beverly Hills – and the only level they would accept was “off.” Begrudgingly I obliged and killed the sound, bringing a swift end to the night’s entertainment. Somehow I don’t imagine myself being welcomed as a resident there any time soon.