Smile Politely

Meet the DJ

When the barbecue’s all been served and the kitchen’s closed on the weekends, Black Dog Smoke and Ale House is still far from calling it a night. Tim Hayden, who’s been DJ’ing around Champaign-Urbana for about the past year (after relocating from Michigan, where he started spinning 10 years ago), is the man in charge of keeping heads bobbing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“I guess my main goal of doing it is just to create a good soundtrack for people to have a beer, people to cut a rug to if they want to,” Hayden said. “At the Black Dog, I feel really comfortable there because it’s super mellow, the staff is super friendly, and Urbana is a fun place to hang out.” Hayden spins twice a month at Black Dog; his next gig will be on Saturday, October 16,  Friday, October 15, and a Halloween weekend date will follow (day TBD).

The bushy-haired head behind the turntables used to write about accessible beer and out-there music for this here website, and he’s retained that sensibility while learning to cater to the crowd. He isn’t a DJ in the sense of the Dubstep crew, blending songs together and matching beats, so he tries to play to his strengths: gauging the crowd and having a diverse selection of tunes. 

“Most of the stuff that I play is stuff that I would listen to at home,” Hayden explained. “I try to play different stuff so it doesn’t get stale. If the style or tempo I’m playing seems to be a dud, I’ll switch it up. If I play ‘Boogie in the Butt’ by Eddie Murphy (laughs) and that seems to get people going, I’ll keep going on that vibe.”

Murphy’s ’80s classic has a special place in Hayden’s heart. “That used to be my soundtrack walking to school in middle school every day,” he recalled. “Me and my friend, we’d get out the jambox, and when ‘Boogie in the Butt’ came on, we never got sick of that song.”

Hayden likes the atmosphere at Black Dog, despite his dietary preferences. “I’m a vegetarian, and I still like hanging out there,” he said. “Last time I DJ’ed, they had a special of smoked nacho cheese on nachos, and I got some of that.

“I was eating the nachos, and I was too close to my turntables, and a big hunk of cheese dropped, and it was going to fall on the record. I swiped my hand in midair and I caught the cheese before it fell on the record. That would have been a real mess. That would have been a whole catastrophe.”

So, if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in downtown Urbana on a Saturday night when Tim’s playing some tunes, drop in and check it out. Chances are you’ll hear something you’ve never heard before.

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