Profile: Adam Boasman
Adam Boasman is a Director of North West wedding entertainment specialists, DFC, and along with running and shaping the business, works as a full-time wedding host and wedding DJ.
When I was asked to be featured in Pro Mobile, I wondered at first what I’d write about. How could I give value to other DJs, both professional and seasoned as well as those coming up through the ranks? It made me stop and think about my journey so far. When I did, experiences soon jumped out at me as being particularly influential on my 25-year career so far.
The first was in 1989, when I was 12, when my father, Ian Boasman, became the owner of Bistro French in Preston - one of the North West’s best cabaret venues. Guests were wined, dined and entertained all night long either by the DJ, or one of a host of international acts and bands we were proud to welcome to our cosy, fun and energetic night spot.
Being an impressionable pre-teen, and wanting to help in the family business (plus, babysitters are expensive!), I started helping out after school in the kitchen. My job became preparing the final course on the Bistro’s set party menu. My father was not only running the venue, but acting as DJ too, which meant that as I worked I was introduced to his greatest musical loves in the form of Motown superstars such as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Edwin Star and Jimmy Ruffin. I loved it. I’d spend my whole shift dancing and making apple pies, sorting out the wafers and singing along using the squirty cream bottle as a fake microphone!
Soon, the venue was so busy that my father hired a resident DJ, which gave me the opportunity to watch what he did too, although I’m sure he only tolerated me because I was the boss’s son! I was in awe. He even gave me the very important job of rewinding the cassettes at the end of the night! I went back and forth from chief dessert maker to DJ pest for years, immersing myself in music and picking up as much experience from shadowing the DJ as I could. I thought life couldn’t get much better!
Then, when I was 18, we were on a family holiday in Europe when dad received a call to say our resident DJ had tragically and suddenly passed away. It was a huge shock, but the business needed to carry on. With the DJ being an integral part of Bistro French’s cabaret offering, I volunteered to fly home that day to ensure we had a DJ for the foreseeable future.
It was a very strange feeling. To be given the opportunity to have my dream job was a huge high, something I’d been aiming for over the previous six years. But also, someone had passed away; someone I admired and looked up to. It literally was that age-old cliché of filling a ‘dead man’s shoes’ and so, for a while, I continued his style and format, not wanting to break the mould and go against the grain.
Within a few months, I’d found my stride. I was DJing six nights a week and Bistro French was a hive of activity day in, day out. From hen and stag nights to landmark birthdays and works parties, Bistro French was famous for a great night out. We’d welcome the full Manchester United or Blackburn Rovers team through the back door to celebrate their end-of-season achievements. Sporting legends like Steve Davies, Kenny Dalglish, David Beckham and Alan Shearer would be dancing on the tables to my playlist and I felt on top of the world. My dream job and my sporting idols all in one room. Life really couldn’t get any better!
In the early days, my Dad didn’t like DJs to speak on a microphone so we didn’t have one (he thought it would sound like we were a Butlin’s holiday camp!). But, with Dad busy upstairs in the office running the business, I figured out I could plug the headphones into the mic socket and use them as a microphone to make the odd announcement and give a shout out or two! However, with international artists regularly performing on our stage, I felt they needed a proper and professional introduction. Eventually, as Dad gave me more freedom to run the entertainment side of the venue, I invested in a proper mic and was able to use it to focus the crowd’s attention onto the stage and give the acts the welcome they needed and deserved. It was at this time that my hosting and compèring skills really started to develop. Despite my rebellion against Dad’s ‘no mic’ policy, it’s interesting that now one of our big rules at DFC is to keep microphone chatter to a minimum when DJing at the evening reception!
As well as DJing and introducing visiting performers I also developed an act myself. I would dress in ‘70s gear and perform a set of well-choreographed dance routines on stage (despite never being a dancer) alongside a dance troupe. This provided us with a back-up act at the Bistro, should we ever be let down by visiting performers, and for a short time I even got myself an agent and travelled round the UK taking my show to other venues. Being on stage and dancing wasn’t a natural skill for me, but it took me out of my comfort zone and helped me to become at ease on stage, in front of hundreds of people at a time, all looking to me to be entertained. These skills simply can’t be taught. Experience of the stage helps in all manner of ways to build confidence and develop presentation techniques. So, even though I look back and cringe at the thought of myself in my purple velvet flares and an afro wig, I know that it was an important part of my journey to where I am now.
In the early noughties, a new venue opened in Preston called Cafe Manyana. I visited and saw the coolest guy I’d ever seen behind the decks. Dressed casual smart, a lit cigarette in his mouth, he blasted out Fat Man Scoop’s ‘Be Faithful’ at full volume and the crowd went wild. At that moment, I realised the true value of a DJ. The whole room was in the palm of his hand. He controlled the energy, the ambience, the way people felt, all in that one moment. He was just so… well… cool! They loved him. I loved him! It was the start of a bromance that continues to this day, for that guy was Robin Kershaw, my best friend and fellow director at DFC.
I was given the opportunity to join the likes of Robin in this uber-cool venue with a weekly Tuesday evening party slot. This was my first gig outside the Bistro, which posed a bit of a problem. I played out from PCDJ Red running on a Dell desktop computer installed in the booth at our venue. This meant I had no other option than carting the whole monitor, tower and a hard drive the size of a brick to Cafe Manyana each week. I didn’t actually tell my Dad, and used to sneak it out!
While I stuck to the party music I knew from Bistro French, Robin played all sorts including dance and RnB. These were genres that I wasn’t familiar with at all, but one weekend he couldn’t work and I was asked to step in to cover his RnB night. “Sure, no problem!”, I told the management. “Can you mix?” they asked. Truth was, I had NO IDEA! So, Robin told me to install Virtual DJ on the massive desktop computer I was still stealing from the Bistro and taught me how to use it in two sessions. I then took two waitresses from the Bistro along with me, who were into RnB, and they told me what to play all night. This worked well until someone requested Ja Rule and I enthusiastically replied, “Yep. I’ll put her on in a minute,” before being scolded and told ‘she’ was a ‘he’ and to shush for the rest of the evening! Despite this, the night was a huge success, and I was rewarded with an unexpected £250 for my troubles – more than I’d ever been paid for a gig. That was the moment I knew that clubs would be the key to increasing my earnings.
The full article can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 81, Pages 15 - 20.