Things are so great in business class, in fact, that Oakenfold makes an effort to taunt tour manager Jackson and me, who are stuck in the first row of coach, just behind the superstar DJ. "Could you please bring more lobster and fill up my glass of Champagne?" he asks, just loudly enough for us to salivate. He's kidding, of course. Today's long day of travel has afforded no lobster or Champagne, but rather Subway sandwiches between quick stops in Managua, Nicaragua, and Panama City, Panama, on our way to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.
The last time Oakenfold played Colombia, he was greeted at the airport by armed escorts, but violence in the country has dramatically receded under current president Álvaro Uribe, and we are instead met by three unarmed bouncers. Our plans for catching a quick nap are foiled when we're told we must make the hour-long trip out to the venue for a sound check before checking into our hotel. By the time we do, it's nearly midnight, so there will be no siestas before Oakenfold's two a.m. set. Once at the hotel, we barely have time to set our bags down and brush our teeth before we depart for the venue for the second time in two hours.
On the way back to the venue, a squirrelly Colombian journalistfresh out of college and whom nobody in Oakenfold's entourage seemsto know anything about, somehow manages to stow away in our van. Heasks Oakenfold to sign 10 autographs (one alone is a big no-no fora journalist; 10 warrants a Punk'd episode), and Oakenfoldbegrudgingly obliges him. Things turn ugly a few minutes later,though, when Oakenfold, who is trying to catch some sleep in theback of the van, is awoken by the green light on the journalist'svideo camera. It's a tense moment as the DJ accuses the journalistof filming him sleeping and the journalist struggles to explainhimself in broken English. (As one might imagine, the journalistfound his own ride back into town after the show.)
Oakenfold tears through another blistering set, which doesn't enduntil nearly five a.m. Of course there's an after-party, and ofcourse we attend. The promoters secure us a bottle ofaguardiente, the country's vaguely licorice-flavored liquor,though it doesn't go over well with this crowd. Kudos to Oakenfold,however, for his interest in local culture. "You embrace it as muchas you can," he says. "Local foods, sights, drink. What we usuallylike to do is get a couple of days [in each destination]; it'susually not as hectic as this."
The sun is already up when we head back to the hotel. The mass,sunglassed exodus from the venue is reminiscent of a zombie movie.I feel as if I've undertaken a sleep-deprivation study for which Iwill receive no compensation - and I've been on tour only for a fewdays. Oakenfold and his entourage do this on a regular basis, athought that prompts the part of my brain in charge of sleep tobeg, "Make … it … stop."
Paul Oakenfold’s highly anticipated new album, A Lively Mind, is due out next month. He spent 17 whirlwind days touring Central and South America to preview tracks from the record.