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Turning the digital tables

MP3Jing opens the floor to amateurs

By Julie Clothier for CNN

MP3Jing is becoming increasingly popular with clubbers
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- It looks like any ordinary nightclub.

On the packed dance floor, clubbers are moving to the music, obviously appreciating the DJ's selection.

But look a little closer at this London club and you will notice that, instead of turntables and endless sleeves of vinyl, the music playing out of the speakers is sourced from an iPod.

After three songs, the DJ steps down.

A number projected on the wall indicates it is time for another person to have a go with their MP3 player.

Welcome to No Wax -- the UK's first MP3Jing evenings, where ordinary punters get the chance to publicly show off the music stored inside their MP3 players.

The first No Wax evening -- wax being a colloquial word for vinyl record; and a play on British trip-hop label Mo Wax -- was held in the middle of 2003.

The concept is so popular, the evenings are regularly held throughout Britain, and the trend has spread as far as Tokyo and Hong Kong.

No Wax co-founder Charlie Gower told CNN that he and another friend -- both of whom DJ part-time with vinyl -- came up with the idea after using their Apple iPods to warm up their sets before switching over to vinyl.

"For regular DJs, the concept is too easy. It's a little boring: there's no flicking through records, there's no pulling them out of the packets," he said.

"So we thought if people who didn't normally DJ wanted to have a go, this would be the perfect way for them to do so."

The format of the evening works in a ballot type system. Those who want to have a go, take a ticket with a number on it.

When it is their turn to take control of the music, their number is projected on the wall.

Once in control, they share a set with another MP3 owner, alternating one of their songs with the other person. After three songs, they step down.

"They have no idea what the other person is going to play so they have to think on the spot of something that will work in well to keep the flow going," Gower said.

He said MP3 players were easily plugged into mixers, making the whole process relatively simple.

"It's not too often you find another use for something that it was never intended for," he said.

In the beginning, die-hard vinyl DJs were skeptical, Gower said. But they soon saw that it was a completely different ball game.

Dwayne Lewars, a 29-year-old graphic designer from London, has been turning up to No Wax evenings with his iPod since they started in London 18 months ago.

He has more than 2,000 songs loaded on to his iPod.

"I am not a DJ. I had never done DJing before this. It's quite a novel idea. You get to play exactly what you want to hear," Lewars said.

"With an iPod, there's so much to chose from, so much variety. It's nice to be able to play it in public. Normally I just listen to my iPod on the train or at work."

But he said playing at No Wax evenings had not spurred an interest in DJing with vinyl.

"I'll leave that to the professionals. This is just a bit of fun."

IPod jukebox nights are popular In New York and Washington DC, where clubbers get to play their own seven-minute set from the 3,000-odd songs stored on the club's iPod.

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