Carleton, though located in quaint Northfield, Minnesota, attracts not-so-quaint names to campus. When the Digital Arts Festival was announced at the beginning of fall term, students learned that DJ Spooky, the turntablist and digital artist himself, would be visiting Carleton for a one-time musical experience to be held in Sayles-Hill Great Space on Friday, October 17.
As the date neared, students began buzzing with anticipatory excitement. Those who knew of Spooky wondered how we possibly got him to come to Northfield, and those who had never heard of him were even more excited by extension. This was the same DJ Spooky who had collaborated with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Yoko Ono, wrote the score for "Slam," the film featured at the Cannes and Sundance festivals, and whose writing had appeared in The Source and Artforum. Everyone knew this would be a good show.
On Friday afternoon, preparation was well underway. A large screen was set up in Peter Tork lounge and the turntables were ready and waiting for the records that would grace them during the evening. Chairs and tables were cleared from the hardwood eating area to make a dance floor and formidable speakers were rolled into their place. The evening went on and suddenly, as if by cue, the lights disappeared, the screen came to life and the music began.
Student DJs sophomore Cameron Nordholm followed by juniors Jesse Trentadue on tables with Chris Belden on saxophone opened the night, spinning to the quickly growing crowd. Soon, DJ Spooky stepped into the cage, and to the crowd’s eruptive applause, dropped the needle on his first record.
From the balcony the dance floor was a fluid entity. Students were immersed in the beats, professors danced, staff danced, even Dean of Students Mark Govoni could be seen dancing to DJ Spooky. As the lights alternately flashed red, yellow and blue, the crowd moved hypnotically, the eye unable to distinguish between individuals.
Outside Sayles, the music traveled through the air, a beacon to the many still arriving. The night went on, with many participants staying until Spooky finally finished his set well past midnight. As people left Great Space, thoroughly spent from dancing, Northfield once again regained its calm, if only for a moment.