The story so far: Freddy hands out business cards and fliers to boost attendance at his Thursday-night gig at the Blue Room in Adams Morgan. If more people don't show up, the club's owners might find another deejay. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/freddy.
People often mistake 33-year-old Freddy Williams for a man seven, even eight years younger. He smokes two packs of Marlboros a week, deejays in hazy bars and nightclubs and sleeps only in fits and starts. Yet his lifestyle hasn't compromised his boyish vigor. The only visible sign that he's getting older: a hairline starting to creep back.
The projection of youth isn't anything new for Freddy. At 16, his lip and jaw were still as smooth and hairless as polished soap. In itself, that didn't bother him. What really killed him, he says, was never being able to slip past a bouncer at nightclubs.
It was the summer of 1987. Iran-contra was rocking Washington, Patrick Swayze was dirty dancing, and Freddy was flashing fake IDs, trying in vain to con his way into clubs. His goal wasn't to drink or even to dance, he says. He just wanted to hang out with the best deejays. Chief among these vaunted spinmasters was Sam "The Man" Burns.
Freddy first met Sam by chance, while both were out buying records.
Freddy recognized the older deejay, a tall man with light skin and a slow, gravelly voice who was then 30. Freddy introduced himself. "I'm trying to get into the industry," Freddy remembers saying. "And I'd like to come see you play. I've heard a lot of good things about you." Freddy had already tried in vain to get into a club called Chicago's, where Sam spun every Sunday night. The same doorman kept laughing away Freddy's various fake IDs.
Let me see what I can do, Sam told Freddy.
I'm not 21, Freddy warned.
Don't worry. I'll take care of it.
A few weeks later, Freddy showed up early at the club, before the line outside had begun snaking down the street. Sam kept his word: He met Freddy by the door and escorted him inside. He's cool. He's with me, Sam told the doorman.
Once inside the club, Sam turned to Freddy. You know you're not supposed to be in here, Sam said. You're not old enough to drink, so I don't want to see you anywhere near this bar.
"I could just tell he was pretty mature," recalls Sam, who at 46 is still playing gigs around Washington. "He wouldn't get in any trouble [because he] was there for the music. That was one of the reasons I probably reached out to him."
So Freddy sat in the deejay booth all night, sipping on Coca-Cola and watching the veteran deejay work. "It was the first of many times I had the opportunity to come in and just experience night-life culture as a whole, and not just the art of deejaying," Freddy says. He looked out of the booth and saw cool cats dressed to the nines mixing freely with shabby fellows in old jeans and baseball caps; he saw white folks and black folks converging under the banner of music, all orchestrated by Sam. He saw his future.
-- Tyler Currie