So said Mike Mak when I asked him about the inspiration to put on the singular and peculiar event that was the Long Island Music Conference.
Mak stood tall and tan in the classically Long Island demeanor. Along with the bikini-clad woman on his arm, he managed to combine the two things that Long Islanders seem to all enjoy: club music and the beach.
In the background, Pauly D of “Jersey Shore” fame was DJ-ing the penultimate set of the weekend long event that is the LIMC. Small groups of people, shirtless or in bikinis, danced and swayed near the stage. Behind them, the Atlantic Beach expanded out to a distant ocean. Staring at Pauly D’s computer (decorated in the form of an Italian flag made out of rhinestones) over the small crowd gave the impression of being at a small private gathering. Mak wasn’t in denial about the sparse crowd, but shrugged it off, saying that this year the LIMC was a last-minute deal. He thinks it will be a whole month next year.
I learned a couple things about Pauly D, as a DJ, entertainer and maybe as a person. He knows how to entertain and capitalize on his celebrity. He operates from a stage filled exclusively with his friends quartered off by his own security. The way he interacts with his friends onstage gives the crowd the impression that they’re involved in an intimate experience with him personally, not dissimilar to the feeling of familiarity that “Jersey Shore” inspires in people. He had signs hanging at the entrance of The Sands and around the beach venue for the alcohol he endorses. Throughout his set he frequently referenced the clothing brand Dirty Couture. He’s the kind of guy that has something and knows how to use it to get more of it.
Something about Pauly D I was surprised to learn: he is actually a good DJ. His set was an admirable balance of crowd-pleasing songs with creative twists to make them more interesting. A dark trance remix of Kurt Cobain’s a capella voice from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” echoed out from the PA followed by Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music produced “Mercy” with a bone rattling bass propping it up. The humor that defines his TV personality can also be found in his DJ. His slightly tweaked version of Gotye’s popular post-break up ode turns the chorus into “now you’re just somebody that I used to f—k.” The Pauly D take on the radio inundating “Call Me Maybe” is more like a send-off that stretches and squeaks, wallowing in its silliness. Other highlights included a Lil Wayne remix of the 2 Chainz/ Drake collaboration “No Lie” and a stomping vamp on the 8-bit theme for the classic Nintendo video game “Legend of Zelda.”
The sun set and the crowd became a bundle of silhouettes. The air reeked of salt and canned Corona. Pauly D ended his set with a couple remixes of mid-aught radio rock and it was too dark to tell if it was ironic or not. I turned around and watched the multi-colored lights from the stage swirl and spin across the sand. A film clip played the phrase, “Where’s Pauly?” I knew where he was, but I still wasn’t quite sure where exactly I was. But if nothing else, I knew that there was nothing like this anywhere else on Long Island.