I jumped at the opportunity. One of my cousins approached me quite late on a Saturday night. I had class early the next morning into the afternoon. Originally, I was planning on calling it quits and cozying up to a nice book.
“I’m going with my DJ to a club in Sathorn, I’m leaving at 10:30. I can pick you up and we’ll drive over.”
I looked down at my watch. That was only less than an hour away. I looked back up at my cousin, and without hesitation offered him an emphatic yes. Maybe it was the way he proclaimed the company he was going with as his – the words my DJ, made the whole thing a bit more impressive. Whatever I was getting myself into, I was more than happy to reward myself after a long week.
When the time came, I jumped in his car and off we went to pick-up his DJ. The entire way there we had a conversation of how he got into managing. These concepts were foreign to me. They didn’t exactly agree with how I had imagined the entire industry. I simply thought that the function of managing was just to assemble a string of shows held together by promoters, and to head social media campaigns that used bold graphics that no one actually read or paid attention to. Managing, he told me, was a way of harnessing and nurturing talent. The conversation was an honest look into a love unrelated to his work he did as a coder, although, he did seem to love that too.
Upon our arrival we were escorted to an elevator that was set for the 39th floor. After a brief security check, a hostess brought us to the where the main act was already on stage. After ordering a couple of drinks at the bar, we situated ourselves at a table where we got a clear view of the performers.
I examined the surroundings and found that most if not all of the patrons of the club were non-Thai nationals. Australians, Americans, Africans, Europeans, Britons, every type of accent, every type of dress, every type of mannerism could be observed at this venue but Thai people seemed to be absent. It was a curious observation, and so I pocketed the questions that I had begun to form for later. What was even more perplexing to me was the way the DJ and her partner listened to the performers on stage. There was no dancing, and contrary to the way I had experienced clubs prior, they didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. Instead, they stood stoic, almost expressionless.
It was 3am and the set was near its finish. The DJ turned to us and signaled for our departure. We gathered and we exchanged reviews of the performance. I was pleased. It was apparent however, that the DJ and her partner had their critiques.
On the way back to their apartment a cascade of ideas streamed from the duo and my cousin. It was indiscernible to me, the whole situation. I couldn’t clearly apprehend what was being said. It was in Thai, the conversation, yes, but even so the way in which these words were said confused me. They analyzed the night, it seemed.
“I have a strict learning policy,” my cousin said to me as they exited the car.
“I take them to these kinds of things at least once a week. It’s how we learn new techniques. Not a lot of DJs in Thailand do it, I don’t think. It’s fun. It is very important we improve and learn to improve.”
Interesting. When he offered to take me out earlier in the night, this was the last thing I thought I’d be left with – this idea of learning, at least, in this environment. To me, it was a creative and exotic way to learn. It made sense in other contexts, though. There was no disconnect for me when I had made the comparison to a professional basketball, or soccer player. Aspiring athletes watch and re-watch film. They ask the questions others are afraid to ask. They offer the answers others are afraid to answer. If you want to improve, you immerse yourself in the culture, the language…you familiarize yourself and drown in wells of knowledge related to your craft. You observe others, eager for the same fruits. These things, I already knew. I’ve heard this same song for years and years, especially leaving high school and into university.
I laid in bed and asked myself if I had actually been applying these modules and others that had up until that point been stowed away on a dusty shelf in my brain. I felt my co-op moving sluggishly. It didn’t have the pace that I expected it to have. I didn’t feel like I was doing enough. This dissatisfaction though, wasn’t due to my colleagues or supervisor. It was my own doing. I wasn’t asking the questions I needed to ask. I wasn’t offering answers to the questions that needed answers. I was being too passive.
The following week, I came prepared. Rejuvenated from the experience at the club and in the car, I felt…good. As my teammates would say, it was time to ‘eat’. I wasn’t alone at the proverbial dinner table either. This newfound confidence, stemming from a bit of introspection put me in the right place, in front of the right people.
John is a 4th year health sciences student at The Bouvé College of Health Sciences. With a nose for exploration and travel, John will be writing from Southeast Asia about his experiences on co-op in Surin and Bangkok, Thailand. There, he’ll be volunteering in community clinics, in addition to conducting public health research at Chulalongkorn University. Follow his adventures on Instagram: johnsirisuth.