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Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2002 / 30 Kislev, 5763

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

Hey, boss! Can you
hear me now? | Great party, isn't it? I said, "GREAT PARTY, ISN'T IT?" Not pity! "PAR-TEE!" Like, "PAR-TEE ANIMAL." Not enema! "ANIMAL!" Like ... let's dance!

Or flee.

Unless you are ready to screw cocktail napkins into your ears and get hit on all night by Yoda fetishists (they're out there), those are your only options at this season's office parties.

And maybe, at such events, blaring music is a blessing. Do you really want to have a heart-to-heart with your boss? Of course not. You want to grin like Bob Cratchit and shrug helplessly to indicate all the adoring things you'd love to say but, alas, cannot because the music is too loud.

So. Fine. Let those deejays do their thing and you can keep your job. But what's with the Megadeth-plays-the-Meadowlands decibels pulsing through the parties where you actually do want to talk to people, like at bar mitzvahs, reunions and weddings? "My aunt said just two things to me at my wedding," confides one friend: "Congratulations." And, "I can't hear a thing."

The problem is not simply one of old fogyism. (Shut up, young fogies.) The problem is that bands really are getting louder.

"The technology has gotten so much better that the amps are able to handle louder noises without distortion now," says Laurie Hanin at the League for the Hard of Hearing. So, of course, the bands crank 'em up.

Why? RGS - Rock Gods Syndrome.

"The musicians are very frustrated that they're not on tour playing their original songs," says Merry Miller, whose Manhattan agency books bands. "They think they're doing you a favor by lowering their standards and playing a wedding." So they blast away their blues - and everyone at the dessert table.

Plus, says Peter, a friend and former wedding band keyboardist, "It's more fun. You start out at a reasonable level and things get a little excited. The guitarist digs in a little, the drummer starts playing louder, you turn it up a little" - next thing you know, they can hear you in hell.

In fact, that's all they hear down there. And it's always "YMCA."

Actually, Peter confides, the problem really boils down to economics. "I don't think we were ever at a job where the client came up and said, 'I want you to play my wedding every year.'"

Since the event is already bought and paid for, the band is looking for its next gig. It does this by propelling would-be talkers out of their seats.

"We want to see the maximum number of people dancing," says Peter, because the more dancing there is, the more fun the party seems. "And that increases the likelihood that people are going to come up to us and hire us for other jobs."

All of which means that the next party you go to will be even louder. Let's just hope the boss is there, basking in your unsung praise.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


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