The story so far: Freddy Williams hands out business cards and fliers to boost attendance 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.
Freddy saunters up the nightclub stairs shortly after 10 p.m., dragging a silver-colored case of records behind him. He scans the dim room. The warm-up deejay is already in the booth, playing to an empty dance floor. A '70s-era flick plays silently on a projection screen. It could be another long night, Freddy thinks to himself.
It's been a rocky couple of months for Thursday nights at the Blue Room, where Freddy plays twice a week. The weather tonight is balmy. Freddy says that people will surely flock to venues with patios or roof decks, which the Blue Room lacks. May there be a thunderstorm, Freddy prays.
From across the room, there's a nod from the stocky man at the bar. Bluejeans. Black T-shirt. Hair slightly ruffled. That's Ray Kang, Freddy's business partner and fellow deejay. Freddy saddles up beside Ray for a beer and some shoptalk.
Freddy and Ray first met in 2001. Ray, also 33, was hosting a house party. Freddy showed up uninvited after hearing, incorrectly, that there'd be an opportunity to spin.
"I didn't know him from Adam," says Ray, who basically told Freddy to get lost. The two deejays crossed paths shortly thereafter -- this time on more amicable terms.
Both had applied for an opening at the Blue Room. Because their styles of music are similar, Freddy and Ray were asked by club owners to share Thursday and Friday nights.
"We knew absolutely nothing about one another," Freddy says, but both of them were eager to land the gig. They've been taking turns mixing beats at the Blue Room for almost three years now. "Actually," Freddy says, "it has become a really good partnership and a friendship as well."
Ray, the California-born son of South Korean immigrants, came to Washington to work on Capitol Hill. He later switched to a technology start-up and then to a health care consulting firm. Until recently, Ray worked as a producer for Deep Dish Records, a D.C. label that specializes in electronic dance music. Ray spendt his days listening to demos of aspiring musicians who record and mix their own music, deciding who had a shot at a record deal.
It was a dream job, says Freddy, his voice filled more with admiration than envy. Plus, the guy graduated from Harvard. "Intellectually, he's a few steps ahead of me . . .," says Freddy, who has a communications degree from Hofstra University. "That's always a little bit intimidating."
By 10:30, the first sign of a crowd trickles through the door. Maybe tonight's not going to be so bad after all. By midnight, there's a healthy crowd out on the dance floor as Freddy mixes beats in the booth. And it didn't take a thunderstorm to get these people inside.
Unfortunately, they don't hang around long. By 1 a.m., most of the patrons have gone. At last call, shortly before 2 a.m., there are only 10 people in the club, including Freddy and Ray.
Freddy leans over the bar to speak with the manager, who holds up a long white receipt showing the evening's revenue. Freddy and Ray get paid a percentage of the bar take.
It was a "good night," Freddy says to the manager. Now "pay me, I wanna go home."
-- Tyler Currie