‘Crank that’: Bargeman’s Friday lunchtime bops

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‘Crank that’: Bargeman’s Friday lunchtime bops

Photo by Ellida Parker

Photo by Ellida Parker

Photo by Ellida Parker

Photo by Ellida Parker

Ellida Parker

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Assistant Principal Gregory Bargeman is a man of many ambitions: he’s the brains behind the Tiger Cafe, the engineer of the infamous senior block party, and the creator of many Class of ‘19 spirit days.

And perhaps most importantly, he’s the music aficionado who brings the atrium alive every Friday with classics like “Billie Jean,” “Survivor,” and “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” alike.

Bargeman’s music has become a signature feature of Friday lunch. And it’s on the up: this month, he upgraded his sound system with a record player that his sister gave him for Christmas. He dug up old records from family members’ basements and returned to Wilson from winter break with a new collection to play.  

“Something I miss about records is the little scratchy-scratchy sound when you put the needle on. I just never hear that scratchy-scratchy sound anymore, and when I get to listen to that scratchy sound, it brings back memories,” he said.

Bargeman has an affinity for the artists who were popular in his own heyday–artists like Rick James, Teena Marie, and Whitney Houston. When I talked to him last Friday in the cafeteria, he was putting on “My Prerogative” from Bobby Brown’s 1988 album “Don’t Be Cruel.”

“I like being the DJ because I get to introduce music from when I was growing up. I mix the old with the new, I mix it all up,” said Bargeman.

That being said, he cares most about playing music that students will like. While blues is his favorite genre, he knows most kids wouldn’t want to listen to B.B. King and Buddy Guy. “So, I’ll play blues every now and then, but mostly I try to stick with pop and R&B,” said Bargeman.

If students don’t enjoy the music, it can’t achieve the effect that Bargeman strives for. So Bargeman has refined his knack for measuring the response in the room. “I look at the crowd to see if kids are responding, or if they’re moving. I won’t let a song play all the way through if no one’s actually responding,” said Bargeman. His goal is to get people moving in their seats, and he loves when students get up to dance.

“That’s what I like about the way students respond to music. It makes them move,” said Bargeman. Line-dancing songs like the Wobble or the Macarena are a sure-fire way to get this response, says Bargeman. “I play the YMCA, and everyone in the crowd does the whole Y-M-C-A routine, if you know what I mean,” said Bargeman.

Bargeman faces the challenge of satisfying student song requests while keeping the music clean. “Students come and make requests, and I tell them, I can only play a clean version of it. And it wasn’t like this when I was growing up, but there’s so many songs today that have explicit lyrics,” commented Bargeman.

Daily DJing is beginning to wear Bargeman out—he used to play music almost every day, but now just plays on Fridays. He’s on the lookout for a student protege to help him out.

Bargeman’s belief in the importance of the Friday lunch ritual lies in the idea that it’s an energizing reprieve from the rest of the school day. “You’re in class, you’re studying, you’re all serious—and I guess, at lunch you wanna relax, and music will help you to relax,” said Bargeman. “Music helps you stop thinking about, you know, a math problem, or some reading you have to do… it justs, you know, takes you away a little bit.”