From the archive
There are times in a DJ‘s professional life when he or she must roll with the bizarre punches club life can throw. Surgeon was once harassed by a punter on an acid vacation who thought the DJ booth was a bar and tried to buy a drink. An acquaintance of mine was playing a three-turntable set when one extremely messed-up raver decided that a tonearm would make an excellent souvenir, and ripped one from the three turntables previously mentioned. These events are usually dealt with by the event’s security, since they are caused by patrons who over step their bounds.
There are hazards and difficulties in the DJ booth that must be overcome outside of the odd overdrunk attendee: lousy needles, broken or substandard turntables, missing or inadequate monitors, etc. I once had to play a set with the bass turned nearly all the way down in order to avoid mind-distorting feedback. These issues are usually transient, except in the case of hearing damage.
However, the occasional mishap can have lasting effects. Such was the case this past Thursday. There is a year-old weekly techno, etc., night in Providence called Plastic, and it takes place every Thursday. They’ve managed to book some premiere talent including DJ Assault, Faust & Shortee, DJ Dara, Simply Jeff, and starting last week, me. I was to play a two-hour set opening up the back room, which is usually the drum and bass room, but since that night featured a 4-way drum and bass tag team, it wasn’t. I digress.
Technics SL1200 turntables typically have a small light bulb pointed right where the needle hits the record. This is immensely helpful in low-light situations, such as every nightclub in the world. These light bulbs burn out, as light bulbs tend to do. These light bulbs both burnt out, and when the house lights went down, I was blind.
Fortunately (or so I thought) there were some candles handy, mounted in glass jars. I lit one and set it in front of one of the turntables on a railing.
Lo and behold, I turn up the booth monitor, and the bass kicks the candle directly onto the record I was cueing up, (underworld‘s cherry pie, if you’re curious) spilling molten wax onto the surface of the record, where it was then picked up by the needle. Quickly, I switched to the spare stylus, found another track to play, and didn’t think about the record until I got home.
I had nearly forgotten about the whole mess until I had started putting all the night’s tunes back in their boxes. A flashback led to confirmation: spooge-stains on my precious vinyl. My set hadn’t gone well enough for that much happiness. One of my favorite records was covered in candle wax. (candle wax on vinyl? kinky)
After asking a record collector’s community on LiveJournal about my predicament, I was armed with a few suggestions, namely:
- putting the record in the freezer and trying to chop off the wax
- using a hair dryer and a paper towel, just like getting wax out of a rug
Sadly, none of these worked. I, however, had a brainstorm. A thread on 313 had once revealed the secret Jamaican method of removing labels from records: boiling water! If boiling water was safe for records, surely that could be used to remove the wax!
And here you have it. mkb‘s recipe for removing candle wax from records, from someone who learned the hard way.
- One (1) hot water heater. Your house probably already has one equipped. Ask your administrator.
- One (1) sink with hot water faucet, preferably deep.
- One (1) or more records with candle wax stains.
- One (1) handy towel
- One (1) used stylus so you don’t ruin your good one. Alternately, you may use a record brush
- Turn on the hot water faucet in your sink. Make sure the drain is unplugged.
- Place each of the wax spots under the running water until each has melted away.
- Dry away as much water as you can!
- While the record is still warm, play the entirety of the affected side. This will remove the wax from the grooves. A record brush should have the same effect.
- The warm water has probably warped your record a tiny bit, so put it back in its sleeve and back in the box right away so the other record will smush it back into shape!