Peter Maxwell Miles rode in to my life like Marlon Brando from The Wild One – bike an’ all! His trendy clothes and rebellious attitude made my school yard antics look just immature and childish. Well, they were! But despite his anarchic appearance he wasn’t there to cause trouble. If anything he was the keenest out of anyone to learn. And he ended up surprising everyone, including the lecturers, with how “tuned in” he was. The first day was all about breaking the ice and getting to know people. This of course required everyone to stand up in front of the group and say who they were and why they were there. Everyone else said the same old boring stuff: their name, where they were from and being there because they wanted to learn how to make money. Peter dispensed with all the pleasantries. “Hi, I’m Max from Manchester, and I’m here cos I’m gonna take over the world!” If anyone else had said something like that they’d have had people laughing at them, and been the brunt of a few jokes for a good few months. Not Peter though, I mean Max. He had the kind of confidence and swagger usually reserved for TV characters like The Fonz. Fortunately for me it became a huge talking point, rendering any need or desire from people to hear why I was on the course completely redundant. I didn’t have the first clue what I would have said anyway. “Hi I’m Dan and I’m here because my dad said so”?
We ended up forming an unlikely bond over coffee in the university canteen. Unlikely because of who we both were at the time (him the New Cool Dude In Town, me local runt of a hotel millionaire) and also because I never drank coffee. Hated it. But when the New Cool Dude offers to buy you a coffee, you say yes! We got to talking about his plan for world domination. He joked he was being literal. I said five years was a realistic time frame to complete his plan before moving on to the rest of the galaxy. He didn’t joke about his work though. He had so much passion for what he was doing, and more for what he wanted to do, almost as much passion as Dad. He’d been a DJ for a couple of years and had made a real name for himself in Manchester in a few of the top nightclubs, and a fair bit of cash too. All the money that he’d earned had gone towards paying for the course. Plus he’d landed a job in one of Bournemouth’s local clubs, one that was on that night’s route for the obligatory Fresher’s Week Pub Crawl. He asked if I was going. I said yes. “How come you’re doing the course?” I asked. “You sound to be doing okay. Why come down here and study this?”
“Two reasons” he replied. “First, Mum and Geoff, that’s my step-dad, are worried I’ll have nothing behind me if it all goes tits up.”
“Aaah, sounds familiar!”
“They do a load of media and music courses here too, but they won’t teach anything I don’t already know. Makes sense really. I mean you’re right I’ve been doing okay, but I’m gonna do great! I’m gonna be the top DJ in the country no matter what, but I figure this will give me an edge or something.”
I could only nod in agreement. “And the second?”
“Are you kiddin’ me? You’ve got that beach down here. Get the sun out and all those fitties in this place out of their boring business suits and in some string bikini’s and you’ve got Christmas!”
I’d never looked at Bournemouth that way before. But the way Max was talking I half thought I was studying at the Playboy Mansion. I let Max ramble on about his life in Manchester. People who saw us probably thought it was just all him, him, him, but I had nothing to bring to the conversation really. Well, except “yeah, that Python parrot sketch is great!”
Sure enough a load of us hit the pub crawl trail that night. It was never going to take long - Bournemouth isn’t that big, and even though we could’ve gone to nearby Poole or Christchurch (where the trails would have been considerably longer, and indeed were a couple of nights later) everyone decided to concentrate all their power in town, specifically along Old Christchurch Road and Fir Vale road, or in Landmarc. This is where we found Max doing his thing. The club had risen from the ashes of an old, disused church not too far from The Pavilion. A modern fully-stocked bar replaced where the kids used to sit on the mats and play with toy donkey’s and little Jesus’. The old wooden pews had been ripped out in favour of a long but narrow dance floor. The pulpit still remained, albeit with a few technical additions like flashing lights and turn-tables, Thats where we saw DJ Maximus – dancing around to the hardcore beats like a priest who’d swapped God for eighteen cans of Redbull.
Over the course of several hours of drinking, dancing and the occasional snog-fest (the latter of which I was only a small participant in, and even then an accidental one) I found myself stood with Max on the pulpit. At the ultimate position of power. A place from where you could control people’s actions, moods and thoughts depending on which piece of music you played. The venue was almost poetic. Max stood me at the pulpit to take over while he grabbed himself another drink. I don’t know why but he figured I could handle it. The place was loud and sweaty. Enough flashing lights to induce an epileptic fit. I loved it. It was electric. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do.
Max was gone an increasingly long time, tunes were ending and I found myself mixing to the next song; the Faithless classic “God Is A DJ”. I was surprised when no one booed. If anything they got more energetic. I had them eating out of my hand. Max returned and I jumped back, apologising for taking over. He said nothing to me, choosing to pick up the cordless mic instead. “Everyone make some noise for Dan The Sharp One!” People cheered like they were at a rock concert. And apparently I was the rock star.
I grabbed the mic myself. “Give it up for DJ Maximus in the house!” Everyone cheered again. I thought I could get used to this.
The night soon turned in to a two-man show. Max left me with the mic most of the time while he laid down the soundtrack. I went forth in to the crowd compering a whole load of drinking games. Dan: The Sharp One had the presence and confidence that his mild-mannered alter-ego could only dream of.
“Why The Sharp One?” I asked Max as things were winding down.
“The official line? You were sharp with the mixing and choosing the music, plus you noticed I was trying to pull at the bar over there and was therefore held up so you took the advantage!”.
I hadn’t seen that. It did explain the red smears around his mouth though. I just thought he really liked Bloody Mary’s! “And the unofficial line?”
“I couldn’t think of anything better!”
* * *
From that night I was hooked. I told Dad what I wanted to do. He just raised his eyebrows and told me to finish the course. Maybe he thought I’d skip on to the next cool fad a week later. Jason was a little more accommodating, especially when he saw what we could do. When Max and me decided to join forces things grew crazier by the week. We got a regular slot every Thursday night at Landmarc, and after my brother saw us do a gig he wanted to use us for the Christmas bash at The Grand.
“You’ll need a better name though” he said, ever worried about the impact of having an event lead with such an uninspired name. “Max And Dan? Sounds like a Japanese toilet cleaner - Macsandan!” he screamed while acting out supposedly comical karate-type movements with his hands. Annoyingly he was right. Not the best endorsement for two guys who were studying a BA Hons in Business Studies with Marketing. In the end it took a Dutch girl studying a BA in Broadcast & Media to solve the problem.