A night behind the box- shadowing DJ Bongani Zulu

Ashleigh Nefdt

Every week, Perdeby sends their journalists to experience something outside of their comfort zone. This week, Ashleigh Nedft shadowed DJ Bongani Zulu.

Like most of you, I have stood numerous times looking up towards the figure at the towering box on stage that has the power to make or break my night with music, making me move to the rhythms. So I became curious, what is it like up there? And how do they make it look so electrifyingly simple?

I decided to embark on a journey of discovery, and I asked someone who would know. His name is DJ Bongani Zulu.

I didn’t know what to expect before meeting him in person, but I knew that if his personality was anything like his music, I could expect great things- and I wasn’t disappointed.

Zulu described himself as a relatively shy and simple person who usually keeps to himself. At first, I thought he was joking, because his music was so bold, resembling confidence. He only laughed and told me that the music brought him out of himself.

DJ Bongani Zulu told me that he had been inspired ever since his father bought him a compact music player when he was just three years old, and that from then on, he had had a personal connection with the music. He told me he loved all music, but techno was by far his genre of choice. Furthermore, he described it as being simple, like himself.

DJ Bongani Zulu took me behind the scenes of his set up. As he was entirely immersed in his elements, I stood cluelessly like a fish out of water. There were large speakers with wires that stretched on for miles, spinning plates, glowing buttons, knobs, and two songs that somehow played simultaneously, but sounded as though they’d never been apart. As I stood there, feeling as if I might touch a wrong button at any moment like Dee-Dee in Dexter’s laboratory, Bongani reassured me that it really wasn’t that complicated. I can assure you that it was, but Zulu had a knack for this sort of thing. He was studying to become a mechanical engineer after all.

I panicked when he asked if I wanted to try it. Nonetheless, I asked him if he ever got nervous. He told me he did every time, but “you shouldn’t do something if it doesn’t make you nervous.”

Once I put those earphones on, I understood why the DJ always looks like some far away figure in another world. It’s because they are. They don’t control the music, they become it. I was transported.

After I’d had my moment, I stood and watched as he did what he did, and even though there were only a few people at the time, he still gave it as much as he would have if there had been a million below him. I asked him if he cared about the amount of people, and he said he preferred less, because he could play what he wanted. I couldn’t get over how much he loved the music.

I realised then that even though  I wasn’t on the dance-floor below, I was part of the music more than I’d ever been. The thing is, when you can physically feel the beat, the bass and all the sounds under your shoes, you can’t help but feel a part of something greater than yourself.

And I tell you, it was one of the best nights out I’ve had. It was the night I became part of the music, all thanks to the DJ.

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